Sisters Sanya and Sanah Goenka (15 and 11 years-old, respectively) have been visiting India every summer to meet family. During their trips there, they witnessed the effects of homelessness, poverty, and illiteracy firsthand. They wanted to help in whatever way they could. They were inspired by their great-grandmother, the Late Smt. Radhadevi Goenka, who was a renowned social worker, staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and a freedom fighter. She started the Bhartiya Seva Sadan as a consequence of her resentment of the prevalent education system in the British rule and a lack of girls’ education. Her idea materialized with the Society starting a pre-primary school, middle and upper school (Smt. Radhadevi Goenka Public School http://rdgpsakola.ac.in/about/school), and then the Smt. Radhadevi Goenka College for Women, founded in 1965 (http://rdgakola.ac.in/about/college/#) with the generous allocation of 23 acres of land. It was the only Women’s College in the Western Vidarbha Region. Today there are over 2000 students studying in the school and college, from pre-primary to postgraduate level.
Following in their great grandmother’s footsteps and keeping the family legacy alive to give back to the society in whatever way they can, the girls decided to take on multiple charitable projects and causes. They have conducted fundraisers to finance cataract eye operations for the poor and to buy bicycles and other necessary supplies for the students at the school and college.
Help Empower has also raised over $8000 to support the American India Foundation ( www.aif.org ) Light a Lamp campaign, which provides shelter and education to displaced underprivileged children of migrant workers. Together, the sisters have raised funds that helped educate over 150 children.
The two sisters decided to start their own nonprofit with the goal of directly impacting and controlling the funds they raise and in return helping to empower underprivileged children with strong education and skills to lift them out of the cycle of poverty and propel them towards a better future.