A Day in the Life of our change leader
“I envision a world where women have their voice and a life of good health.” – Tanya Khera, Cohort’20, EduMentum.
Tanya Khera is the Co-Founder of Samanta Foundation. The organization works with the marginalized forest communities – the Van Gujjars and Taungyas, among others, who have limited or no access to education, healthcare, basic amenities like water and electricity. Tanya and her team work in the lower Shivaliks of the Great Himalayan Range in Uttarakhand.
Samanta Foundation works towards equal access, availability, and affordability of opportunities for all communities and strives to enable communities in the areas of education, health, and livelihood. They aim to achieve this through community participation, ownership, and indigenous ideation.
With only 24 hours each day, we wondered how Tanya manages to handle all the responsibilities on her shoulders. Every day, she works hard to achieve the vision she built her organization on. So we thought to explore how her day looks while she ensures to achieve her goal.
An Early Riser
Tanya is an early riser. She believes yoga and cycling help maintain her mental and physical well being. She updates herself with current affairs by watching the early morning bulletin on BBC as she sips her cup of coffee.
“Planning for the day is essential when you have an endless and inspiring to-do list” – says Tanya. Her team drops in at 9 AM to plan for the day, where they reflect on instances of the previous day, decide on what are the tasks for each of them.
The Ride to the field
It’s time to hit the road! A 45-minute swift ride through the winding roads of the lower Shivaliks lead Tanya through the lush green beauty and into the forest area – Samanta’s work-station.
A Jaunt into the Forest
At around 10:30 AM, Tanya reaches the forest. A walk through the forest allows her to interact with the children and their parents. People of the community are thrilled to see her. It’s a brand new day to learn.
Reading as a Habit
As she concludes her interactions with the community, students gather in the corridor of one of the houses, and she engages them in do-it-yourself activities that involve art and craft. The kids are always excited to know what they’re going to be doing each day. They also engage in reading activities to cultivate the habit. The Library session is an important part of the day. It gives her immense happiness when she sees students develop their reading skills each day.
The real life Math
Next, it’s time to learn arithmetic – but with a difference. “ I believe experiential learning yields a lot more than sitting inside four-walled classrooms. So, we learn addition while counting the number of cattle,” says Tanya.
Connect with the community
As classes for the day come to a close, lunch awaits Tanya at a community member’s home. Spending time in the community and taking in their everyday experiences are non-negotiables.
Understanding the Community
Along with education, Samanta Foundation works towards adolescent and menstrual health issues by building capacities of the youth and women in the community. The women specifically face a host of issues – the lack of physical or emotional well-being, or personal hygiene. The only way for Tanya to know is to make consistent visits to homes in the community. “Building the community’s awareness about these issues and the solutions is very important. The lack of information or the access to it is one of the key factors for growing health issues within the community,” Tanya says.
Time to break the Taboo
Menstruation and hygiene are not topics discussed often within the community, or even the society at large. Which is reason enough to talk as much as and whenever possible. Tanya’s awareness sessions on Menstrual Health and Hygiene are frequently attended by all women in the community.
Learning by doing
While cutting their hair or snipping their nails, Tanya finds the perfect opportunity to teach the kids about personal hygiene.
It’s time to learn
At 3 PM, students gather in the corridor of one of the houses with their books, waiting for Tanya to start the next session. It starts with a short prayer and the students clarify their doubts on topics learned the previous day.
Time to Celebrate
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.” An action-packed and eventful day comes to close as Tanya retires with her journal – penning down her thoughts from everything she learned and witnessed that day.
Accompanying her journal is a canvas that’s ready to soak in Tanya’s experiences through her beautiful and artistic expressions.
“I love painting as it helps me gather and reflect on my experiences. I am either thinking of painting or painting on my canvas” – Tanya Khera