This inspiring young girl was orphaned when she was four months old. Today, she empowers underprivileged children through education.
Maya Dhal was only four months old when she lost her parents and was brought to SOS Children’s Village in Bhubaneswar. In the love and care of the people there, she found for herself a supportive family, one that saw her through thick and thin, giving her the courage and encouragement she needed to achieve her dreams.
Growing up, her adoptive mother, Ms Sushma Manjari, gave Maya a piece of advice that went on to define her actions as well as the very course of her life:
“Whatever you learn, or whatever you achieve for yourself is good. But you must always share your gifts with those who need it the most.”
It is perhaps this advice that pushed Maya, even as a young student, to help those less fortunate than her.
Maya’s hard work helped her get into the Bachelor of Science programme in Hotel & Hospitality Management.
Her personal experience with education convinced Maya that educating a child can help empower him/her as education helps not only develop a sense of independence, also a sense of identity, something that forms the core of any human being.
“For being independent, basic education is required,” she says.
This conviction in the power of education drove Maya to go out of her way to create awareness among economically weaker sections of society about the importance of education, all while juggling her studies. She urged parents to send their children to school. When they remained unconvinced, she offered to bear the costs of their books and school supplies herself.
With her meagre pocket-money, Maya bought school supplies for 27 underprivileged children. She even began teaching them and helped them with their homework.
Her steadfast dedication and quiet encouragement even pushed many drop-outs to get back to studies.
Eventually, Maya joined Kateni Government Primary School in Bhubaneswar and started reaching out to, and transforming the lives of, more children.
“My life at the village, looking at other children who were once abandoned or had lost their parents, completely changed me for the better. I wanted more and more underprivileged children to be cared for, to be educated. I started teaching poor children so that they can at least be educated, stand independently, help their families and be of support to someone in their society. It is like a chain. What goes around comes back around.” says Maya.
Maya’s success lies not only in her ability to overcome her past and do well for herself, but in her willingness to go out of her way to help children in need learn to stand on their own two feet.
“Maya’s success is being shared as an example in the nearby communities to mobilize other children to opt for such benevolent pathways to fulfill their life’s dreams,” says Ajaya Dash, Village Director of SOS Children’s Village, Bhubaneswar.
Her greatest wish is to see a world where each one of us, in our own way, does our bit to help vulnerable and underprivileged children. She wishes to give them a more inclusive environment to live and grow in and to give every child with the confidence to live life on his or her own terms.