A Young social activist who took to 7 states her work for children & women
We all nurture a passion but few translate it into action. A passion left unanswered results in a dry life; an act driven by passion can transform lives. This defines the journey of Rashi Anand and the dream she nurtures.
Rashi is the founder of Lakshyam, an NGO working for street and underprivileged children in Delhi. The idea behind the noble venture was the sheer number of street children in Delhi that totals over a lakh. What are these vulnerable kids falling prey to? Drugs, beggary, pickpocketing and prostitution to name a few. Rashi discovered zeal among these children to do something meaningful in their lives; they only needed support.
Today, Lakshyam has a school in the name of Sakshyam located in Vasant Kunj in a slum area where 300 children are provided necessities such as education and taught crafts. The organization also conducts workshops with street children under the flyovers, in the red light areas and at the railway stations to aware them against drug addiction and tobacco intakes.
Since its inception in 2004, LAKSHYAM, established itself for the welfare of the society, and mankind at large. Engaged in a number of social welfare activities like child welfare, health, education and women empowerment, Lakshyam has rigorously aimed at implementing effective and innovative solutions to improve quality of life of the not-so-privileged communities.
Rashi's efforts have taken Lakshyam to such heights that it has a presence across seven states namely Jharkhand, Delhi, Bangalore, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Himachal pradesh and Karnataka.
Rashi can recall vividly a scene of a group of street children playing enthusiastically, cheering and chirping. But what did they play with? Discarded tyres, empty plastic bottles and stones. She compared the picture with kids more privileged who are blessed with real toys and play inside swanky homes. This instigated her to start a campaign named Lakshyam Toy Library in under which huge boxes were placed in 12 esteemed schools of Delhi and students were motivated to donate their toys. The response was surprisingly huge with a collection of over 60,000 toys and books in the boxes. These were distributed to street children in Delhi. As the number was massive, Lakshyam tied up with organizations in different states as a result of which toys were sent to rural villages of Bihar, Kurnool village, Theni district and Refugee camps in Dharamshala to name a few.
Lakshyam Toy Library aims at delivering toys and books from the privileged kids to the not-so-privileged ones. Till now, over 2,00,000 toys and books have been distributed across India. Lakshyam's Butterfly Program provides Remedial Education Centers for students, in order to fill the gap in the government education system. Lakshyam's Rooh Program tirelessly strives to educate the women of India and empower them with the confidence to lead a healthy lifestyle.
At the age of 18, Rashi was the board member of Lakshya, an NGO founded by her mother Poonam Anand who has worked for tribal women, against naxalism and in the red belt area in the state of Jharkhand.
She has opened an orphanage in Ranchi city. Also, she has worked for three years with blind, deaf and dumb children.
Rashi considers her mother as her idol and fondly recalls all the trips she made with her as a child to rural and tribal villages. Her travels have made her sensitive to the problems of the underprivileged. "I feel blessed that even at a young age of 25, I have been able to touch the lives of at least 7381 people, making a difference - small or big - in those lives," she says.
"Starting at an early age, a major problem I found was that few took me seriously as this field is known to join people at a later stage of their lives. To establish the authenticity of the NGO was tough too. But I could do it because of the support
from my family and friends," she says.
Professionally, Rashi is running her event management and advertising agency named Mirrorz for the last five years, through which she handles national and international level events.
As her forte lies in event conceptualization and implementation, she has used her skills to arrange fund-raising events for Lakshyam. The first was for ‘Being Human’ where street kids got a rare opportunity to meet Salman Khan. For its smooth functioning, Lakshyam received donations from Khan on behalf of Being Human.
She launched an event called Fashion for a Cause in which kids from RK Puram red light, Delhi, were made to walk the ramp. Much funds were thus generated to help those kids. The entire fashion industry including Bollywood glitz and Delhi socialites supported the event and made it a success. It was incredulous to see the pickpockets and drug addict kids walk stylishly on the ramp, their lives changed for a night. The same hands that brushed them away were now clicking pictures. She says her aim is to change the lives of many more little stars.
She has been awarded the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Entrepreneur India Summit 2013, one of the biggest entrepreneur conventions in the world, hosted by Franchise India Holdings Limited, Asia's largest integrated franchise solution company in association with Indian Franchise Association (IFA). BBC has also showcased a story on Lakshyam and Ms. Raashi Aanand's work in the social sector.
Rashi's aim is to see every woman stand on her feet and every kid enjoy a normal childhood. She feels that every one of us must give back to the society in any way possible, be it voluntary or monetary services. She says that if we go into these shunned areas and have a first-hand experience of the lives the dwellers lead, we'll know how valuable our lives are.