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Becoming an entrepreneur Shalu’s learning from Gandhi Fellowship

Shalu Gupta, Gandhi Fellowship Alumna, Batch 2016-18, is the Founder of the Utsa Foundation Trust which works to improve the lives of many children by conducting awareness workshops across Odisha. Her

Gandhi Fellowship was a dream since 2014. I had completed my education in Psychology but there was always something missing when I connected with people. I chose to fill the gap through the fellowship. Honestly, I am not the same person I was a couple of years ago and I am nothing but proud of this. We were placed in a block named Chikhaldara, Maharashtra. This small place is like mini heaven. It was my escape to a lot of hurdles in life. The people of this place are the same; simple, natural and untouched by the world.

My learnings in the two years have enabled me to be the entrepreneur I am today. Being a fellow, I discovered the joy in living by myself, tasted the wonders of jungles and its beauty, faced my fears of animals, of darkness, of drunk men, of being a failure but always with a smile and I never gave up. For a girl who loved being at home with her novels 24/7, traveling to work for about 100 km every day was crazy but it’s brought about so much change in me. In all its essence, I learnt how to live a simple life with a minimum amount of money. From visiting small schools to sleeping on floors, from eating Jawar ki roti to cooking black tea, from walking for kilometers to sleeping under the coolers, this journey made me touch the human aspect of life and I am very grateful for it.

My journey of an entrepreneur began in the second year of Gandhi Fellowship. We got to know a lot of cases of abuse during our field visits and from there on we began conducting awareness workshops on child sexual abuse, child rights, and menstrual hygiene. We reached about 2000 children then and there has been no stopping after that. Post Fellowship, I registered my organization in Bhubaneswar on 16th November 2018 and in the one year, we have not only conducted workshops but solved many cases of abuse and drug use among children. We have even helped many dropouts take the path of education again. I wish to see Utsa Foundation reach a million children in the coming years.

              

Glimpses from workshops with children

I believe that with great power comes even greater responsibility and so with that in mind, I choose to work for the nation, not just today but every single day.

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