Saumyasri Katuri: Bringing harmony into the world
Saumya Katuri, 18, USA
My name is Saumya, and as a core team member of Make The World Wonderful, I lead the organization’s many activities.
I grew up in California with an Indian heritage, both of which have shaped my broad understanding of different cultural perspectives and belief in international cooperation. As an Indian American, I have always believed that I represent a globally connected world.
Ever since I was a kid, I had a lot to do, a lot to achieve and a lot to create. Whether in the U.S. or India, I always found myself teaching self-defense classes for women in my community, stepping up to leadership roles at my school or just helping those around me. No matter what country I lived in, I found a happiness in helping people around me to be happy.
I was 16 when I first met Meghana through the iB Hubs, a pan-India startup hub. A passionate individual, Meghana immediately struck a chord with me. We had many things in commons. One of them was that we wanted to see a world where people understood each other, cooperated with one another and were happy, a world where people live in harmony.
Today, many of the major problems in society are interwoven. To solve them, we need to address the root cause of these problems, which we believe is the lack of harmony.
It was with this understanding that four of us — Meghana, Khyathi, Pranita and I — came together with a common vision to build such a world.
Through our experiences with people, we realized that the first step in building harmony was managing perceptions. To bring harmony into the world, we began with children, the grassroots of society. We decided that creating the right perceptions in children and equipping them with perception management skills was the path we could take.
With a vision of a world where people live in harmony, Meghana founded an NGO, Make The World Wonderful, in 2015. Together, at 17, all four of us formed the core team of the organization.
One of the programs we initiated was the Child Adoption Program (CAP) through which we aim to raise a generation of children in an empowering culture of harmony. Our mission is to establish 2,500 CAP centers by 2023.
As a pilot of CAP, we developed a scalable model with 50 underprivileged children, taking full responsibility of these kids (including food, accommodation, education and health). We focus on transferring values to them as well as fostering positive attitudes among them.
In this program, we’ve practically implemented the fundamental learnings of perceptions with children. We have equipped them with a strong awareness of perceptions to improve their relationships with both themselves and others. We have raised each child with utmost respect, love and care, never using aggressive methods. We have built the harmony we wanted to see in the world, starting with these 50 children.
We also want to make this ecosystem available to all children, including privileged children, because we believe that every child counts.
Let me share an experience of the culture of harmony we’ve created.
We took the children to a fest at a national college where many NGOs were invited. During the night stay at the college, children from other organizations started fighting, pulling each other’s hairs and making lots of noise. Amid the chaos and confusion, our CAPS (Child Adoption Program Students), on their own, took the initiative of asking them what the problem was. It took them several attempts but they were eventually able to calm down the children. Noticing a shortage of blankets, they asked the nearby supervisors for more and meanwhile gave their own blankets to the children. They waited until even the youngest among them slept before they did.
The small step forward that our children took to lead and care for others around them represents the kind of change we want to bring to the world. This is the kind of generation we want to raise, one in which individuals are not only empowered but also driven to empower those around them too as agents of change.
We’ve also led a campaign to raise awareness about our cause and bring people together to get involved. In barely a year and a half, the success of the pilot project has earned us over 15,000 supporters already. We've given talks about harmony in national colleges and perception introductory workshops to over 4,000 students from premier colleges in India. We’ve even been featured in the local press. Now we’re reaching out to the international community and our journey has only just started.
Representing our cause of harmony in the Youth Assembly at the United Nations is an honor and I speak for the entire team when I say that we are extremely excited to be taking our cause of harmony to the global level. I look forward to meeting and learning from passionate individuals and organizations making a difference in their own ways.
I’d like to thank our parents for supporting our passions and my team for always motivating and helping me grow. And a special wholehearted thanks to iB Hubs for their continuous support and guidance. We are here today because of them. They’re our strong backbone in this journey, and their assistance, be it technical, administrative or else, has always been there for us.
4 teenage girls.
You can support the campaign if you too want to show the world how many of us feel the necessity of such initiatives in the world today.