A youthful philanthropist: Edison, N.J. student Srestha Mukherjee

Edison, N.J. high school student Srestha Mukherjee, with students of The Blind Boys Academy in Kolkata. Photo: provided by family

Srestha Mukherjee, a senior at John P. Stevens High School in Edison, N.J., founded an organization to help students with special needs back in 2020 when she enrolled for summer classes at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

That non-profit, “Embrace Ausome” (embraceausome.org) has  the team members located in different parts of the country, where they have opened chapters and meet virtually on a  regular basis, to support each other’s initiatives.

Srestha’s latest outreach is to The Blind Boy’s Academy, a sister school of Kolkata’s Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Narendrapur which her father attended.

The BBA is a residential institution for education, training and rehabilitation of the visually challenged boys. It offers general education up to the 12th grade along with providing training in vocational music, computer, agriculture & animal husbandry, embossing braille books in six different languages and multiple other areas.

The school made an impression on Srestha when she visited India over the years. “Embrace Ausome” provided her an avenue to do something for them.

Edison, N.J. student Srestha Mukherjee, poses for a photo with the students at Blind Boys Academy in Kolkata. Photo: provided by family

She consulted the principal of the BBA to determine the priority areas where she could help. The students there would benefit to learn English from somebody who natively speaks the language.

As a high school senior in the U.S., she had the knowledge and skills to help them, but the challenge was to gain their trust and have them open up. It is an all-boys school with all-male teachers and here was a high school female student trying to teach kids from grades 9-12 a language foreign to them. Through her passion for music, she was able to establish a deep connection with the students and build trust.

Over time, it became easier and she was able to have the students open up and work with her in improving their mastery of the English language.

Before going to India in the summer of 2022, Srestha had also raised around $1000 through her fund-raising initiatives. She contributed that amount to BBA to help improve educational functions at the institute.

Srestha learned how these kids met and overcame challenges, retained their positive attitude to life, and even found ways of how they could contribute to society.



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