While most juniors are overwhelmed with standardized testing and challenging coursework, Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior Kosha Patel has found the time to establish her own charity, which aims to give back to disadvantaged communities in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in India. With the help of her sister Nidhi, Patel launched “Jumpstart India,” an organization with the goal of providing impoverished children in these regions with school supplies, clothing and access to education.
The reason why these children were put in this situation in the first place is that their families have been displaced by the Sardar Sarovar and Narmada Sagar projects, which are controversial irrigation efforts made by the Indian government. Families affected are mostly indigenous Adivasi groups and the construction of the dams have caused over 200,000 natives to be forcibly moved 1000 miles from their tribal homes. They have been provided with either slum-like tin sheds or a small sum of money with which to construct their homes in these relocation sites.
The Indian Supreme Court even reviewed the situation and ruled that the state must provide adequate living conditions, medical facilities and schools for families affected. However, the state government affected by the ruling has not adequately fulfilled those conditions, resulting in underfunded schools and unclean water.
That is where Jumpstart India comes in. Patel reached out to ten affected schools in the region and plans to reach 30 in total in the short-term. Her organization takes a two-step approach: first improving the educational environment of the schools, then encouraging attendance by providing the students with the tools they need to succeed.
Patel got the idea from family friends in India, who had been donating and supporting the tribal people with money from their own pocket due to the lack of government oversight. Realizing the many resources and networks she could tap into in the U.S., Patel created a crowdfunding campaign to share her cause with family and friends.
While the project itself is not officially associated with MSD, Patel herself is involved with the school’s chapter of DECA and plans to incorporate this organization as well as other clubs on campus to give her project as much exposure, funding and supporters as possible.
In order to raise money for her cause, she is planning to organize kickback nights with local businesses to raise awareness of her cause in the communities of Parkland and Coral Springs. Being at the head of this project has given Patel a different outlook on her own life.
“This project is charity driven and has really [shown] me to appreciate my own school and the small luxuries that I live with. When we handed each and every kid their new materials, whether it be their new uniforms or their new backpacks, you could see the amount of appreciation by looking at the smiles that were on their faces,” Patel said.
In order to reach their goal of raising $5,000 to support those 30 schools, Jumpstart India needs a jumpstart of its own from the local community. People interested in the Jumpstart India mission can learn more and donate through their Facebook page and YouCaring page.