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In 2006, Connie Blunden, Greenwich Academy’s outreach coordinator and global studies teacher planned a trip to India in collaboration with Greenwich Academy alumna, Shaheen Mistry. Mistry dropped out of Tufts University in the late 80’s, to move to Mumbai, with the intention of working with homeless children and children from lowest income areas. While enrolled in the University of Mumbai, Mistry inspired friends to join her efforts. After establishing a presence in Mumbai’s slum areas, as a home tutor, she started approaching business owners and spiritual leaders about using their spaces, after hours, as schools. Her request fell on deaf ears. Finally, a priest asked when she would be ready to start. She jumped at the opportunity and replied, “tomorrow.” Once the project was proven a success, doors opened more readily for bright-eyed children from Mumbai’s slum zones.
Blunden asked Joan Mendelson and me to join the trip. We led a group of Greenwich Academy teenagers to India, during monsoon season. Blunden initiated the trip and coordinated all the logistical details. I planned the curriculum. The Greenwich Academy girls, Blunden, Mendelson and I, each carried an extra suitcase, filled with necessary supplies, which were then donated. We worked with adorable children, who were no different than all other groups of children in their ability to learn and laugh. At the end of the week, the kids from one of the Akanksha centers proudly invited our group for a tour of their village within the city.
At the Indian government’s request, Mistry left Akanksha in 2008, to spearhead “Teach for India.” Akanksha continues to thrive…
“Currently, Akanksha reaches out to over 6500 children through two models: the after-school or center model and the School Project.
Akanksha has 3 centers and 21 schools in Mumbai and Pune.”