© Trisha Photography

I am an 18 year old student attending San Jose State University. Although I was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, I lived in Mumbai, India for 7 long years. Having lived there for those years opened my eyes to the harsh cruelties and inequalities of the world at a young age. Surrounded by an interminable amount of poverty on the streets of Mumbai made me vow that regardless of where I ended up in the future, it was my duty and responsibility to help those that are unable to help themselves.

When I migrated back to the United States during the summer of 2010, the picturesque views left me awestruck and I found myself developing an interest in photography. As I became more keen, my abilities sharpened. I started doing photoshoots for friends and eventually decided to showcase my work on a photography website. Over time however, I realised that although my work showcased talent it did not showcase purpose. I wanted to make a difference and use my talent for a worthwhile cause. I decided to make all profits from purchases and photoshoot charges go directly towards charity.

Gradually over time, I took it a step further and decided to use the money to purchase necessities from Walmart (including toothbrushes, toothpaste, granola bars, hand sanitizer, gloves, beanies, socks, chips etc) and make Blessing Bags to distribute to the impoverished throughout the streets of San Francisco. To raise awareness for the cause, I even directed and filmed a short filmed called Givin' Is Livin' to share with my fellow students and friends.

During winter break this past year, my parents and I took a trip back to India to visit family. During which, I had the opportunity to visit Banganga, one of the larger impoverished and economically deprived communities within the city of Mumbai. As soon as I set foot in the neglected locality, I was warmly received by curious and eager children of all ages who were enthusiastic to learn. Despite their sufferings, not one sulked or looked unhappy. Some attended municipal school, where the poor quality of education hindered their abilities to make their dreams a reality and some were unable to attend school altogether because they had to either go out and work to help support their families or stay home to take care of their siblings while their parents worked hard to earn. I met children who wanted to become doctors, teachers, policemen, policewomen, engineers and some even cricketers. Regardless of the harsh circumstances under which all of them had to survive, every child wanted to become something extraordinary in life.

 

When I first planned this trip, I was almost certain I would be able to give those children hope but frankly, the result had been quite the opposite. I learned that if children from a community like Banganga can dream of becoming doctors, engineers and so on, then privileged children like myself are wasting the amazing opportunities they have by refraining to "dream too big" or by setting goals that are "way out of reach". I wish that all privileged children gain an insight into the grim realities of the world so that they realize how lucky they are and how grateful they should be.

 

My aim for this project is not only to help those countless children who's happiness is not dictated by material possessions, but rather by the small things in life we often overlook and take for granted but to also convince those of us that are blessed to have food to eat every day and a roof to sleep under every night to do everything in our power to uplift those that are deprived.

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.

- Mahatma Gandhi

TRISHA SHAH

Photographer |  Social Entrepreneur