Dear Friend,

I vividly remember, one night, my mother clutching me tightly and trembling as a man threatened her life over unpaid debts. I wanted to say something or cry for help, but I was too young and scared.

We lived in a village outside Bangalore where our community was powerless to confront threats and violence. We were very poor, having to beg our neighbors for food on many occasions. The humiliation was devastating, and the vicious cycle of poverty and indignity seemed unbreakable.

At the age of four, I was fortunate to receive admission to Shanti Bhavan where I discovered a world of possibilities. Most importantly, Shanti Bhavan helped me find my voice. Over and over again, I was told to ask questions, be curious, and speak up. I learned that I had a voice that deserved to be heard.

My confidence grew as I excelled in academics. I loved math and science, and pushed myself physically, playing on the boys’ soccer and basketball teams. I overcame my shyness by singing in the choir and speaking up when I had doubts.

Today, I am happy to say what all this has led to—I have received a full scholarship to study at Swarthmore College. With the education and the skills I gain, I will soon have the means to rid my family of their debt and offer them a comfortable life. We will never have to live in fear again.

I couldn’t have done this without you. You made my dream a possibility. I am now committed to using my voice to uplift others and pay forward what you gave me. Thank you for believing in me.


With heartfelt gratitude,

Shanti Bhavan Class of 2023
Swarthmore College Class of 2028