No one is born extraordinary; we become extraordinary by our deeds and hard work. Lavanya Nandimandalam is one such ordinary girl from Mumbai who is treading an amazing path at the tender age of 16, and her achievements are commendable.
Who would believe that an eleventh-grade student at Dhirubhai Ambani International School is not only publishing interviews for the STEM stories section of Geeky Girl Reality, planning to help with the construction of a Water ATM in a village, and also raising money to build science labs for municipal schools? She is also working for distributing solar lamps and installing solar panels in many households, making mechanical washing machines along with other girls, and looking for ways to solve the issue of waste in India by developing a formula which helps recycle waste to form a cleaning solution. Yes, Lavanya has many feathers in her cap.
This Friday, we meet Lavanya Nandimandalam who aspires to be a chemical engineer in the future. Lavanya is different from other girls of her age because she has a deep interest in empowering rural India. Lavanya, a female STEM student who always noticed the lack of women in STEM says that her imagination was set afire by an interview of Dr. Anuradha Majumdar, faculty at the Bombay College of Pharmacology, she read, which inspired her to conduct these interviews herself and Geeky Girls Reality posed as the ideal platform for her.
Lavanya, whose hobbies include baking and playing golf is doing a serious job. Working as a volunteer with a large network of women’s self-help groups (SHGs) of the empowerHER foundation, she is taking part in the Women Empowerment Program, Project WaSH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene), their education program, and solar lamp distribution program. She is helping with the micro-financing, self-employment, micro-entrepreneurship, medical treatment, and financing of children’s education.
So, what all does Lavanya wish to achieve through empowerHER? The answer she gives shows her deep understanding of the issue.
“Investing in livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities is the direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive development. Self-reliance, economic freedom, and pride in the work that they do are an important ingredient of woman’s empowerment.”
Lavanya Nandimandalam feels proud to have conducted information dissemination programs through the legal jaankar program (training on legal services), government jaankar programs (information about government schemes), and health jaankar programs (training on woman’s health and hygiene).
And, who are her inspirations or role models? Her grandfather of course, who despite the wishes of his illiterate parents to help them with maintaining their farming fields, continued to walk 8 kilometers every day without any footwear just to go to school. Due to the lack of electricity, he used to study under the lamp post on the road after returning in the evening. After graduating from one of the most prestigious schools in India, Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur), he went to Germany. Her grandfather returned to India and continued to work hard. Working 20-hour shifts each day he eventually started his own lubricant company, which is remarkably successful today.
Lavanya, who has learned extreme hard work and perseverance from her grandfather, has gathered rich experience about society and humanity at a young age. We wish Lavanya a huge success in life and hope she becomes an inspiration for many more Lavanyas!