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Young Wellesley sisters give back

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By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Sanah and Sanya Goenka have been raising money for the American India Foundation for years now. Their fundraising in 2015 resulted in a donation of $3,225, while in 2016, the girls raised $4,625. The two sisters are Wellesley natives.
What’s the most incredible thing about all of this?

Sanah is in third grade and Sanya is in grade seven. Despite their young age, these two sisters have been involved with community service since their youth. They’ve been making a difference ever since.

Each year, Sanah and Sanya Goenka visit India to see a different site AIF helps. Their past trip was to a site for the blind.  Photos by Katrina Margolis

Each year, Sanah and Sanya Goenka visit India to see a different site AIF helps. Their past trip was to a site for the blind. Photos by Katrina Margolis

“Well, we were always really into community service as a family,” Sanya explained. Their grandparents own a school in India promoting and helping with education for girls. “My parents got invited to the AIF gala a couple years ago and they came back and told us about it, and we got really excited.” The money the girls raise goes towards the AIF Light a Lamp Campaign. “The campaign collects money for kids of migrant workers within India,” Sanya said. “So what happens is their parents are always migrating for work and the kids don’t get a chance at a good education.” A year of education for one child can be provided with a $50 donation. Last year’s fundraising by Sanya and Sanah provided education to 85 kids.

“The kids don’t have a steady education, and they get back into the cycle of poverty because if they don’t have an education, then they won’t be able to get out of the cycle,” their mom, Reshma, added.

The girls go to India every year, especially since they still have much of their family there, but the trips aren’t purely vacation. The AIF gives money to different organizations in India, and the girls have visited different sites each year. Last year, they visited Able, a school for the blind. “It was basically a whole place where people were helping and teaching blind people,” Sanya said. “So they had a braille printing press, they had a class where they were teaching them how to cook, they had a center where they helped them get jobs.”

The year before, they visited a center for the deaf and dumb. “Basically they were teaching them how to cook, and so they could go to help out at hotels,” Sanah explained.

Those who aren’t able to get to India to see their aid at work are able to visit with and meet some of the beneficiaries who come to the United States. “We’ve gotten a chance to meet them and we get to ask them questions … they tell us how its impacted them, and its really great to see how all of your hard work is going towards influencing people,” Sanya said. Sanya and Sanah have both given presentations at their schools to teach people more about the struggles many in India are going through. Sanya began a pen-pal program in her class to several of the students who were receiving aid from their efforts.

The two remarkable girls are involved not only with AIF, but also both Girl Scouts. Sanya is part of the Community Service Club at her school, and Sanah is proud of the work her Girl Scouts Troop has done for those within the Wellesley and Boston communities, as well.

At such a young age, there is no doubt that these girls will continue to change the world around them for the better.

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