With Our Hearts founders Nisha (14) and Nimisha (12) is on a noble mission. In the heart of the impoverished Sundarbans, where children grapple with a harsh reality, hope has arrived in the form of two young sisters and their nonprofit, With Our Hearts (WOH). 14-year-old Nisha Tara Saraiya and 12-year old Nimisha Saraiya, the visionary co-founders, have set their sights on revolutionizing education and nurturing young minds in this remote region.
The two sisters landed on this noble endeavour through their personal experiences with remote learning during the pandemic. Covid-19 forced all school children to study and attend classes using computers.
Nisha Tara and Nimisha wondered how underprivileged children would be able to overcome the digital divide and continue their education journey. Further research validated their concerns – underprivileged students in inner-city Chicago lacked computers and their schools lacked resources – so these students had basically stopped studying.
Nisha Tara and Nimisha felt compelled to help these fellow students bridge this digital divide! They started their non-profit, With Our Hearts (WOH), in September 2020. They recruited three of their school mates, Andrew Jain, Alexis Jain, and Gavin Bender to form the WOH founding team.
WOH’s mission is to provide equal learning opportunities to underprivileged students. In Nimisha’s words: “Education is a fundamental right, not a privilege! We want to empower all underprivileged students to achieve their potential by providing access to affordable, world-class educational resources and facilities.”
Since then, With Our Hearts has conducted several local fundraisers like Math Summer Camps, Easter Egg Hunts and corporate events to donate Chromebooks, paid for SAT/ACT prep, and provided reading and math tutorials to students who had fallen behind. WOH co-founders and their volunteer team devoted many hours collectively to tutor students who had regressed because of remote learning.
With Our Hearts embarks on a noble mission to empower underprivileged children in Sundarbans
Nimisha recalled, “Seeing the impact of these donations on the lives of students motivated us to strive for a more significant and lasting change in their educational experience.” Over time, the organization has expanded its reach beyond the local community, and after much research, decided to work with a small village in the Sunderbans, West Bengal.
Nisha Tara and Nimisha spent considerabale amount of time with students in Taki to understand their needs. Reflecting on their visit, Nisha Tara expressed, “When we first witnessed the conditions in Sundarbans, it broke our hearts.” The sisters were confronted with the stark reality faced by the students – broken straw huts serving as classrooms, lack of clean drinking water, and children at risk of exploitation.
The With Our Hearts team also met the families of some of these students and was shocked by their extremely poor living conditions. Nisha Tara expressed her concern, stating, “The conditions were far worse than we could have imagined. The lack of proper infrastructure and basic amenities made us realize the urgency of our mission.”
The WOH team was moved by the strong love for learning and ambitious career goals expressed by these students. They were pleasantly surprised by the fact that the parents of these children, despite being mostly uneducated and living hand to mouth, understood the value of education and had a strong desire to educate their children.
Nimisha shared her emotional response, “We were deeply moved by the resilience of these children. Despite all the challenges, their hunger for knowledge and determination to build a better life shone through.”
“We knew that education was the key to unlocking a brighter future for these children.” Nimisha added with unwavering determination, “We envision a transformation that goes beyond mere infrastructure. We want to instil a sense of empowerment and possibility in every child’s heart.”
Their organization, born out of a desire to bridge the educational divide during the pandemic, has now set its course on building a school that not only offers classrooms but also serves as a sanctuary of hope.
Nisha Tara shared her vision, “We want the school to be more than just a building. It should be a space where children feel inspired, where they can dream big and pursue those dreams fearlessly.”
At Taki in Sunderbans, the sisters have identified several improvement opportunities such as building a tube-well that’s deep enough to provide clean drinking water, providing a school bus so students can reach the school safely, building classrooms and science labs so students can learn by experimentation, and building a computer lab with WIFI so students can also learn from the Internet. They will be working tirelessly so the students in Taki can have a brighter future.
In the midst of adversity, Nisha Tara and Nimisha have become symbols of hope for the most needed, underprivileged high-risk children, illuminating a path toward a brighter and more equitable future for the children of Sundarbans.
With their unwavering commitment and dedication, the sisters and their organization are set to leave an indelible mark on the lives of those they touch, one child at a time.