“If a lot of people do small actions, that affects change. It’s not just one person going in and making change.”
Name: Anya Satyawadi
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Education: Shady Side Academy
Passions and Interests: Science and research, debating, raising awareness for the environment
Transformational Experience: GLA Belize
Making an Impact: Created the Albert and Maria Fund with her peers to advance Belizean education
Before her trip to Belize, Anya Satyawadi didn’t know what it was like to travel to someplace so different than home. That’s why the chance to travel to Belize with Global Leadership Adventures struck her as an incredible opportunity.
This was something totally out of the box for me.”
Though she had never worked with children in a one-on-one environment before, her service project with GLA in Belize involved a lot of interaction with kids. It was in this setting that she really took a shine to her new environment. It’s also when she noticed something unique about the culture’s connection to education.
As Anya tells it: “Whenever I travel, I love to immerse myself in the culture of the place I am visiting. GLA and our mentors really allowed us to do that in Belize. We had the opportunity to work at the school to help clean it up and do a little bit of painting. During one of these times, we also spent a lot of time with the family that owned the snack shop. I would talk to their kids and we would discuss their life in Belize. It was interesting to to know about kids our age and younger, and the different trials they had to go through that we didn’t. Even when we were teaching the kids, I noticed, almost immediately, that many students understood the concepts we were teaching them, but did not have the confidence to tell us the correct answers.”
Anya believes that because a lot of parents weren’t able to afford an education and attend high school during their own childhood, this lack of confidence has become pervasive in families. With finances being a constant challenge, school always takes a back seat to earning a living.
As her GLA program neared its end, Anya decided to change that.
Something that my GLA trip taught me was that there is no way to fix all the problems that the world faces in one shot or even one hundred shots. However, the way to really help a community is to continuously go back to a community, and make it clear that you’re invested in the success of that community.”
The Albert and Maria Fund was founded by Anya as an effort to address the educational gap in Belize. Anya approached her GLA director, Kelli, and pitched the idea for the scholarship. The plan was an immediate hit with her and her fellow students on the program.
After I talked with Kelli about my idea, I told everyone on my trip (all 25 of them) about my idea. Everyone is extremely excited to help, and we have all decided to have fundraising campaigns in each of our communities to raise awareness of Belize’s education problems and give back to St. Matthew’s.”
The first goal is to begin by funding two children, one boy and one girl, through the completion of their high school educations. All of the money raised by the funds will cover their tuition at St. Matthew’s school and the books they need for their classes.
Their long-term goal is more expansive: to award these scholarships to a new pair of students each year. To do that, they are working to make sure the first pair of students succeeds.
In Belize, government funding for education is extremely limited, so things like covering a basic high school education, books, uniforms, and fees are often left for families to fund on their own. So every dollar donated makes a big difference in the outcome of these students.
Right now, the funds for the first two students are only a bit over a tenth of what is needed to get them through to high school graduation. Though the hill seems steep, Anya is relentless in her pursuit of a better world for these kids. As she likes to tell it:
My life philosophy would most definitely be to never give up, no matter what, never think that you cannot bounce back from a problem.”
We couldn’t agree more!
If you’d like to help support Anya’s scholarship program, you can click here to contribute and learn more.
Programs Anya attended:
GLA Belize: The Initiative for Children™
Curious about exploring your own GLA adventure? Check these out:
- GLA Belize: The Initiative for Children™
- GLA Costa Rica: The Initiative for Children™
- GLA Guatemala: Children of the Maya™
- GLA Ghana: Children of Africa™