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What is your fondest memory from your time volunteering abroad with IVHQ?
Life in India is a chaotic assault on the senses. The unforgettable sights, sounds, and smells make me feel more alive than anywhere else I have ever been.
Of the thousands of memories I hold dear, my favorite is of the morning I entered a local slum of 25,000 people before dawn and watched Squalor to Scholar’s first students wake up in a cold fog, wash themselves under a communal water pump, use cow pies to cook their own breakfasts, and then don their pristine new uniforms as they set out toward the first day of school in their entire families’ histories.
Why should you be the IVHQ Volunteer of the Year?
Over the past 12 months, 8 of which I have spent in India, Squalor to Scholar has grown from an idea to a full-fledged non-profit organization that is now giving 116 slum children world-class educations and opportunities to escape the shackles of the caste system.
Most of the children receiving our support were on predestined paths toward young marriages, lifelong illiteracy, and lives spent toiling in the urban slums of Northern India. I spent two months researching their plight and understanding their needs before finalizing the most sustainable and impactful solution to their inequality and lack of opportunity. Just one year later, we have radically transformed the lives of our 116 students and their families. We have brought education to the forefront of every local parent’s mind and highlighted the path out of poverty.
Although I am honored to be considered for this award, Squalor to Scholar’s rapid success would never have occurred without the collaboration of many Carmelite Sisters, social workers, translators, teachers, physicians, and volunteers who have made our pursuit possible. Your vote today is a vote for them.
What benefits will the award money have for your designated project?
The $5,000 will be used to take 20 talented and determined children from the slums and enroll them in one of the most prestigious schools in their city. This will cover the costs of their tuition, extra tutoring, uniforms, books, and supplies for their entire first year. We will then find each of these students sponsors to fund their continued education through college and into their professional careers thereafter.
What is your long-term vision for this project?
Squalor to Scholar is a sustainable, scalable, and long-term commitment. Within 5 years, Squalor to Scholar will be educating 450 students. In 14 years, we will watch the children who benefit from this award money graduate from high school and attend their first day of university. By that time, more than 1,000 scholars from impoverished and persecuted backgrounds will be following in their footsteps at some of the most prestigious schools in their areas. These educations will have an extraordinary impact on our students, their families, and the communities in which they live for many generations to come.