Sudarshan Thirumalai

He was only ten years old. Effortlessly weaving through the heavy traffic, while going from car to car trying to sell flowers. I could imagine his familiarity with the traffic patterns at the stop light came with hours of practice every day. The risk as well worth the little money he made from his job, as it would help feed him and his family. At the time I could only feel bad for him, and maybe buy the flowers he was selling, but ultimately I realized that I would have just caused the problem to become worse. This was only one such instance that I have seen, as I have visited India over 20 times throughout my life, encompassing a total of 2 years there. Seeing numerous children in different parts of the country work from a very young age not only made me feel lucky, but also sparked an attitude for change in me.

Years later, my mother became an active supporter of Akshaya Patra by raising money through annual productions at her dance school. I was exposed to the charity, as I was part of the orchestra for these productions. Through Akshaya Patra, I had finally found the solution to not only the boy’s problem, but the solution to every child in India too poor to invest time into school. It was extremely inspirational to have seen the growth of the organization, from when my mother first got involved, to what it has become today.
After realizing how little money was needed to sustain a child throughout a year, I decided to conduct a dress down day at my school, knowing that every dollar can impact the livelihood of a child. A year ago, I recommended and campaigned Akshaya Patra to the school’s campus ministry and the idea was immediately welcomed! They agreed to include it into their schedule for the fall of the 2015 school year. A week before the dress down day in October, the school posted notices and made announcements regarding the magnitude and success of Akshaya Patra. It definitely spread the word, and inspired many to donate as much as they could.

The Monday after the dress down day, the amount collected was announced; I was humbled and overwhelmed by the $2,300 that was donated. It was a feeling of great accomplishment. In the years to come, I hope to look for many other ways to actively support Akshaya Patra, and spread the word of its noble cause.