LeBow Sophomore Plants Seeds of Hope in India

Story Highlights

  • Rina Patel founded Aahana to help poor women and children in India.

  • Aahana is Hindi for "the first rays of sun."

  • She is incubating her nonprofit at the Baiada Institute.

Sophomore Rina Patel, a LeBow marketing and legal studies student, became inspired to make a difference after visiting India and witnessing extreme poverty first-hand.

She describes what she saw, and how it made her feel: “Children playing in rags, so untouched by the reality of the world they are living in, seemed almost unreal. Despite their circumstances, the children who had nothing were bright, witty, and unstoppable. With millions of children deprived of education and the basic necessities, I knew I had to do something.”

In response, Patel, whose parents grew up there living in similar conditions, founded Aahana, an organization which assists young women and children who face extreme inequality living in some of the most impoverished villages of Gujarat in India. Aahana is the Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship’s first nonprofit organization. 

Among its initiatives, Aahana, Hindi for “the first rays of sun,” is currently supporting an orphanage called Mamta School. It’s for deaf and disabled children who come from some of the poorest, most isolated villages in the state. Patel says that she couldn’t have done any of this work without her strong support system in India.

Here at Drexel, Patel has says she has received tremendous support and guidance from Mark Loschiavo, executive director of the Baiada Institute, and Terri Zobel, Baiada’s director of programs and services. She regularly attends Baiada’s educational programs.

Three main sponsors: RAASadelphia, Bhangra at the Bell, and the Indian Cultural Association at North Penn High School, have been instrumental in helping to expand Aahana by creating awareness around the Philadelphia community.

Aahana is currently starting a student chapter and branch organizations at Drexel, the University of Central Florida and Rutgers University, among others. To read more about Aahana, visit www.aahanaindia.org; email info@aahanaindia.org; or fill out the form on the “Get Involved” tab at www.aahanaindia.org.




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