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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

"NIRVANA PROJECT" is Born: A Story of SHE Scholarship Student

 An artistic student Nagaraju's dream is making a real progress! 

Meet a young talented Nagaraju P. He is one of YGB's 210 SHE (Scholarship for Higher Education) students, which funds destitute teen students' higher education for five years. Coming from a very poor family in Chamarajanagar, outside of Mysore, Nagaraju was so happy to receive this scholarship to continue his education in a college in Mysore, majoring commerce. In December 2016, I visited Nagraju's home, as Professor Jayadev (Deenabandhu Trust, YGB NGO Partner) had already sent me  his incredibly beautiful and powerful drawings by emails. I wanted to meet him and ask his future plans. 
Nagaraju showed us his beautiful drawings at his home during our visit in 2016


When we first met in 2016, Nagaraju was undecided about pursuing his art. His father wanted him to take a government job for a stable income, as he makes very small wage as a daily laborer with little education.  They live in a simple two room home in the village of Chamarajanagar. His mother is a housewife also with little education. 
In 2017, I met with a passionate Jyoti Jaiswal, an owner of Om Sutra online yoga accessories company based in New York. Jyoti's mission is to empower women, artisans and talented artists by creating job opportunities with fair wages for a sustainable livelihood.  I immediately shared Nagaraju's designs with Jyoti, who was very impressed with them that she agreed to create bags with his design and market on her site. As Nagaraju's designs started traveling virtually from Chamarajanagar to New York, the new "NIRVANA PROJECT" was born. As Jyoti puts it, "this project is about Nagraju's transformation and reaching to his dream..." I thought this is a beautiful name for this project which came together magically, but actually with tireless work by Nagaraju, Jyoti, Prof Jayadev and Mr Menon in Mysore. 

The Nirvana bag illustrates a meaningful picture of transformation of King Siddhartha to the Nirvana state of Lord Buddha is a wonderful representation of transcendental bliss and it’s hand sketched by the  artist Nagaraju P. 




This January, we were happy to see the first samples of NIRVANA PROJECT bags!! Here, YGB's first SEVA TRIP participant Ambassadors and Supporters proudly modeling these high quality bags with Nagaraj's design!! With Lauren Peterson(Los Angeles), Beate Scholtz (LA), Sharda ten Hove (The Netherlands/Thailand), Anouk Prop (The Netherlands/Thailand) and Bonnie Ikemura (LA)

We travelled to Kolkotta carrying the NIRVANA bags! At Ramakrishna Mission Belur Math on the Ganges River with YGB Ambassadors Lauren Peterson (Los Angeles), Mina Lee (Abu Dhabi/Korea) and Beate Scholtz (Los Angeles)
I met with Nagaraj this January again. I was very happy to hear that he decided to continue to pursue Art and tries to become an artist though it may not be the easiest path. His thank you card is filled with deep sense of gratitude and also most moving message is that he wants to establish himself as an artist to help the poor children in his community. Actually, this is a common message and strong feeling among all the students here. They are so compassionate and thoughtful. I was most touched to receive my portrait by Nagaraj!

No dream is too small or too big to pursue. I am again empowered and inspired to witness how our small contribution can seed an opportunity to live up to somebody's potential. As YGB, we will continue to follow up his story and I look forward to sharing it year after year.  This is a true learning process for myself and for YGB as well. We hope to support Nagaraj's dream, one bag at a time, while creating more sustainable income opportunities for local women tailors as the NIRVANA PROJECT takes off!!

Pre-Order this great bag now and get 20% off while helping Nagaraju's dream come true!!




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