A young philanthropist: Srestha Mukherjee, student at Edison, NJ

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Srestha Mukherjee, a high school student from Edison, NJ, with students from Blind Boys Academy in Kolkata. Photo: provided by the family

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

This non-profit organization, “Embrace Ausome” (embraceausome.org) has 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.

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

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The BBA is a residential institution for the education, training and rehabilitation of visually impaired boys. It offers general education up to the 12e degree while providing training in professional music, computer science, agriculture and animal husbandry, embossing Braille books in six different languages, and many other areas.

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

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

She consulted with the director of the BBA to determine priority areas where she could help. Students there would benefit from learning English from someone who speaks the language natively.

As a high school student in the United States, she had the knowledge and skills to help them, but the challenge was gaining their trust and getting them to open up. It’s an all-boys school with all-male teachers and there was a high school girl who was trying to teach children in grades 9-12 a language that was foreign to them. Thanks to her passion for music, she was able to establish a deep connection with the students and establish a relationship of trust.

Over time it became easier and she was able to get students to open up and work with her to improve their English language proficiency.

Prior to heading to India in the summer of 2022, Srestha had also raised around $1,000 through her fundraising initiatives. She donated this amount to BBA to help improve the educational functions of the institute.

Srestha learned how these children encountered and overcame challenges, maintained their positive outlook on life, and even found ways to contribute to society.

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