Worship Ravikanan with cerebral palsy takes initiative to help these children
While on a visit to a government school as part of a field project, Upasana Ravikanan developed a first-hand understanding of inequality in education.
Two years later, he started a social initiative, GoPaadhai, which works around the purpose of accessing educational resources in schools.
Eighteen-year-old Upasana, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound, sees her initiative fully ready to put on wider wings.
He is one of 19 changemakers selected from 12 states for the second edition of Ashok Young Changemakers, a one-year program that will equip them with knowledge and perspective to find solutions to many other global challenges.
“I was in ninth grade and as part of Kartavehve doing a diploma in public problem solving initiative at HLC International, we went to the area of a government school. It was intended to help us understand the various challenges there. Classes in government schools were as large as mine, but they lacked facilities.
The most poignant moment came when Upasana noticed that a group of children had left a puzzle unfinished on the floor. When he told them about it, they were told that many pieces were missing, and they would never be able to complete that puzzle.
It was heartbreaking to see children deprived of basic teaching material for worship. “School pictures, children and my conversations never left me, and I used to discuss it with my music teacher, Sithalakshmi Maam, who broadened my horizons and asked me to do something about it.”
Through a music teacher, she came to know an institution working with the ASSEFA Foundation in Kannavur, Kannaiyarpet, Cuddalore.
Upasana then turned to his gated community in Siruseri, which helped him realize his dreams.
This is the beginning of Gopadhai's journey.
“We raised 15 15000 to support a teacher training program,” she says.
Soon, his friends cheat in his support. For example, Arjun Mohan, who lives in Pelican Nest, a gated community in Thoripakkam, led another fundraising initiative for Kanavu. This time, they were also looking for stationery and storybooks. Here, he collected more than ₹ 11000. Many other friends went door-to-door to raise money.
During the lockdown, Upasana received a request from the Inklink Charitable Trust, which works with the underprivileged from Kannagi Nagar to raise money to purchase a data card so that children can attend online classes.
Gopadhai volunteers again turned to their respective communities for donations; And now, the army of volunteers had increased.
“In 2018, I had 10 friends who helped me raise money. The next year, it increased to 15 and now I have over 20 people as volunteers, and some of them have grown up, ”said Upasana.
They raised around ₹ 20,000. Upasana and his friends are now working towards building resources for a school in Ramanathapuram.
Currently in a gap year, Upasana is spending time at her disposal for her volunteer Alma mater, Where she conducts classes for students in grades 1 and 2 in mathematics and English. Her mother, Aparna Ravikanan, says, “HLC International has played a key role in my journey for my daughter to become independent, empowered, and inclusive.”
Later, in July, Upasana will enroll for a graduate program in psychology at Ashoka University.
To find out more, visit instagram.com/gopaadhai