Youth Ambassador: Prahasitha Ponaka
"My journey with Akshaya Patra started when I was a young girl. My dad would donate annually and as I got older, I started to contribute some of my money as well. I became an Akshaya Patra Youth Ambassador in 2016 and I was given the challenge of raising $1800. I didn’t want to fundraise by hosting events or going door to door, those ways didn't excite me. I wanted to do something different.
At the time, my aunt had made me some earrings out of paper and I was extremely fascinated by the craft, so being a jewelry lover myself, I decided to learn. As time got on, I slowly became better at it and started to become really creative with it. One day, I realized I should start utilizing my talent and passion for making earrings and that was the day my fundraiser, Earrings For Philanthropy was created.
In the beginning, I was a little skeptical on whether people were going to be interested in them, but as I explained to people that the earrings were a means to spread Akshaya Patra's message and how for the price of each earring a child can eat for three months, tremendous support started pouring in. I hear stories from supporters saying how strangers would come up to them asking where they can purchase some earrings as well! As I kept on spreading the mission statement of Akshaya Patra, some people started connecting so well with the cause that they just started donating without asking for a pair of earrings in return.
It became a statement in my community that everywhere I went, I would see people from the Indian and non-Indian community would be wearing my earrings. It always brought me such joy to see how a pair of earrings could bring so much impact.
Another thing that makes very happy is how children come up to me and ask how they can help in my cause. Being part of the new generation and not having much exposure to the outside world, they became so involved with my fundraiser to the point where they would donate their birthday money or allowances to help their fellow peers in India.
I am very happy to say I have exceeded my goal of $1800 and still continue to make earrings to support such an amazing cause.
This summer, I hope to go visit some kitchens in India to see how the efforts and support of the campaign, Earrings For Philanthropy, has helped the children in reaching their dreams. I hope to spread the mission of Akshaya Patra to as many people as possible and make sure every child in India has a nutritious meal and the equal opportunity for everyone to achieve their dreams. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey and Akshaya Patra for allowing me to be part of a such an amazing campaign!"