Nearly twenty-six years ago on July 24th, 1994, my Naani delivered me in an emergency home-birth situation and, as a result, saved my life. Last summer, on July 1st, 2019, she passed away with my mother and I directly by her side. It was difficult, but it also made our family’s mission and passion to help girls complete their education feel more urgent.
As some of you already know, my late Naani was a feminist who understood the importance of education for young girls in a patriarchal world, and advocated for it [among many other things] her entire life. She was a doctor in India back in a time when it was frowned upon for women to work, least of all as doctors. Later on, she became a young widow and single mother in a society full of people who looked down on her for her situation (and wrongly so).
The importance of girls and women completing their educations is something she passed down to all her children (including my mother) and, as a result, her grandchildren as well.
In the year since her passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to keep her legacy alive, especially as her only granddaughter. Aside from my creative practice, as she was an artist, too, the thing I keep circling back to is our shared passion for ensuring girls everywhere, especially those of color, are able to complete their educations. Like her, my mother, and all the men in our family, we are of the unwavering conviction that this is altogether crucial, markedly in the face of all the varying but guaranteed circumstances constantly working against little girls, their successes, their dreams, their livelihoods, and their general happiness.
Now, it’s almost the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, and in the midst of a pandemic and extremely heightened moment in the #BlackLivesMatter movement (both of which have the power to impact the futures of little girls everywhere, and Black ones especially), I request the best birthday present of all: a donation to give little girls the education, opportunities, securities, and simple joys every single human being on this planet deserves.
While this fundraiser is set up in regards to my 26th birthday, this isn’t the end — in fact, this is only the beginning. That’s why I plan to kick off a lifetime of actively advocating for this cause with a goal of raising $1,001 before July 24th, 2020. I know that’s a lot of money, but that still gives us 48 days to make a significant change. Stand with me and my Naani today — stand for little girls and a future that can actually be female after all.