In the world which is constantly changing and evolving, you run the risk of becoming obsolete if you are not adopting. ‘Survival of the fittest’- decades old as this biological theory slash adage is, it shall never lose its relevance even if human race was wiped out and ruled by robots or machines.

I am Rishi Banshiwal, co-founder of ‘Reaching Sky Foundation’. This social initiative is aimed at making the youth of India ‘fit’ for survival in this competitive world and makes them employable by imparting them the most important skills and education. Currently I am a United Nations Volunteer, working on a National Project which promotes volunteering among youth all over India to get involved in matters critical for the development of the country like the sustainable development goals. We are working on opportunities so that they can improve their skills, networks, competencies and feel much more confident about themselves and then go on to become success stories and inspire others in their respective society.

I belong to a family which has a deeply rooted culture of volunteering and I imbibed their habits whole heartedly. It is a maddening world and it takes being more than ‘good enough’ to make a mark in the society. I come from a humble background and I realized it was need of the hour to make people, especially our youth, resourceful and thus came the idea for this initiative.

After completing my graduation I worked with many young leaders and organizations in Delhi/NCR and executed 8+ social projects. I got hungry to learn more and realized I needed to develop skills to deliver the best, if I were to stick to this field and make a social impact. So, I took up a managerial Course (MBA) from a socially inclined University in Agra – Dayalbagh Educational Institute. In the last semester of my MBA, post finishing my internship with another social organization, I registered my dream social venture. Through this initiative I wanted to give power and awesomeness to our youth which promotes lifelong growth. After discussing this idea with co-founder Sunidhi Kant, we decided to give it a name – ‘‘Reaching Sky Foundation”..

Riding on a wave of passion to make an impact, we started with empty hands and a big dream. We wanted to save money so we painted the walls of our office by ourselves and converted a rented store room into a breathable working office space within a month. I also learnt new skills like designing, video-editing, web development etc. which made me very productive. We embraced and utilized new technology to solve day to day problems. It’s difficult to show someone what you are working on at the initial stage and there are apprehensions as to what should be the next step. It is important to have faith and take suggestions and criticism in a positive light.

My passion and my efforts for promoting volunteering and supporting youth were rewarded when as I was awarded as the “Youth Champion” in September, 2016 by iVolunteer Awards! This was extremely humbling and motivating moment for me and it energized me double up my efforts to keep up the good work.

Today, the small initiative started in a rented room is a big movement, giving opportunities to hundreds of youth to help change their lives by changing the life of others. In the last half decade of working with youth and children on quality education at more than 10 slum sites and by mobilizing more than 25,000 volunteers , I have managed to streamline my passion for volunteering in a more effective and deliberate way and the rewards have been immensely fulfilling! On the field, when I see my students excitingly waiting for our team to come and teach the lessons we have planned, it makes all the hard work worth it. When the volunteers who devoted their time in being the resourceful persons on field tells me that they had the best time of their lives and they feel much more confident and competent about themselves, I feel our efforts are important and relevant for the development of our society.

I feel that I am the luckiest person because I chose to work for my ‘passion’ rather than for a ‘job’.

Rishi Banshiwal

Co-founder ‘Reaching Sky Foundation’| Social Entrepreneur

Saumya Aggarwal – Youth for Peace International

Hi everyone, I am Saumya Aggarwal, a 20-year old, currently in 3rd year of college and the co-founder of ‘Youth for Peace International’.

We began in December 2015 with a vague idea, yet we knew that we wanted to create a platform to promote peace and harmony in our society. It was in the middle of 2016, when we met few peace scholars who helped us in transforming our small idea into a large community. Today, my organisation conducts workshops to spread awareness on the issues of peace-building and conflict transformation. We help people to know themselves first and guide them on how they can work in a team setup. Gradually, we move towards conflict-resolution negotiation and then finally sustainability. We help the candidates to negotiate in daily life. For us, peace means non-existence of conflict. We wish to generate a thought process in people, through which people don’t jump into conflicts easily and think about the other person also.

When we were doing research work at refugee camps, I used art as a tool to heal the psychological trauma people we met had undergone. Art is very close to heart as it helped me when my mother was dealing with cancer. At the refugee camp, there was a strong communication barrier so we made extra efforts by conducting interactive activities. Now, we do multiple donation drives for the development of these refugees. After witnessing all this, I have become more empathetic towards people and thankful for the life I am leading.

My routine is pretty hectic as I manage college and social projects simultaneously. Listening to music, searching for opportunities, painting and watching TED talks on YouTube helps me unwind. I was really thrilled when one of my paintings was displayed in UN’s headquarters in Bangkok. It was selected as the best painting from among the artworks of various artists.

I like to keep busy. These years are the most crucial ones of my life. I can make or mar my life. When my mother was in pain she never showed it and that silent courage has taught me the biggest lesson of my life. My journey so far has not been easy as I have received my share of criticism. People have had issues trusting me because I am a young female leader. Also, I had to work extra hard to establish my credibility in the organization. But I have a great passion to accept challenges and now that I have realised my mission in life, why not work towards it from the beginning? I plan to make this initiative a revenue generating model and also to pursue masters from Harvard University soon.

Saumya Aggarwal                                                                                                             Co-founder Youth for Peace International | Social Entrepreneur