Meet Ayushi Sharma. An enthusiastic, super cute, happy-go-lucky 25-year-old. She has such a breezy personality that you can’t help but fall in love with her. But her inner being supersedes her external good looks and happy demeanor.
The reason we at GTI is bringing you her story is because of the selfless work that she is doing and we feel nothing much sheer pride in associating with her and bring her story out.
Armed with a B Tech degree, she has already worked with big companies traveling multiple cities across the nation.
Originally from Himachal Pradesh, a mountain region from the northern part of India, Ayushi always knew that she had to struggle doubly-hard to make a mark in her career. Being a small-town girl, lacking the confidence and sophistication of a metropolitan city, she prepared herself to be chiseled so as to metamorphose into a precious diamond someday.
Ayushi is a girl whom everybody wants to be friends with because she has this infectious smile that can even light up a dark alley. But it’s the same smile that had caused her a lot of agonies too as she was reprimanded even if she smiled too much or too often so as to not attract the gaze from the strangers lurking by. Ayushi belonged to an orthodoxy, patriarchal family which went by the obsolete philosophy of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.
It’s funny how in our country, those “four invisible people” that represent the social fabric of our society becomes instrumental in sucking the joy out of people’s lives. Our parents’ constant threat to what might those “four people” say rules over everything rational in their existence, throughout their lives.
There was an instance when Ayushi felt so abandoned that she just left her home without giving it much thought and by the time she was hauled back home the next day, the entire town was gossiping that she had tried to elope!
People caught up at such messy crosswords in life either end up dead or in depression. But Ayushi just became more and more determined to change everything that was going wrong. She promised herself that no matter what, she would make a name for herself and make her parents proud of her as it tore her apart to think that she had caused them such shame and misery. And she did. She completed her education and fought her way up the corporate ladder that further opened up new avenues and challenges for her to conquer. But when she had bagged almost everything that she had set out to achieve, Ayushi didn’t feel jubilant. Something was amiss. She felt claustrophobic looking at all the petty meanness around her. Her mind was in turmoil. The competition was cut-throat and she found herself to be a participant in a mad rat-race. Slowly, amidst all the inner conflict, sadly, she saw herself becoming one of those people without any morals, that she loathed so much. Before the tide of power and greed could engulf her, she dared to break free. She took the path less traveled. It wasn’t the conventional thing to do. To have the courage to throw away the castle you have build with your bare hands to the wind.
Ayushi had heard about this amazing organization called ‘PAGIR’ (People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights), which was doing some phenomenal work for the differently-abled people in Leh, Ladakh. She started reading as much as she could lay her hands on the available information. She found out that ‘PAGIR’, founded by Mohd. Iqbal, who himself is differently-abled, in the year 2007, was created with the sole purpose of creating a just, equal and inclusive society at one of the remotest, challenging and beautiful places on the earth, Ladakh; for people with disability and to improve the quality of their everyday life.
The more she read, the more she felt convinced that she had finally found her ‘true calling’!
It was during this time, while still at work, she met Akhil Dabral, became friends and eventually fell in love with him. From the tormented childhood till now, all Ayushi had craved for was respect, space, and comfort. Akhil promised all that and more. They got married in October 2018. This one-man became the family that Ayushi never had.
Eventually, Ayushi took the plunge, called the shots, and put in her resignation to work as a Volunteer at the organization that had gotten her soul stirred. She joined ‘PAGIR’. And Akhil stood by her like a rock, even though they were just five months into their marriage. Currently, Ayushi is at Leh. She felt drawn towards this cause maybe because she hailed from the hills so she knew the everyday challenges that these people have to endure such as poor transportation networks, opportunities, and amenities. And to top it all, the freezing temperatures during most of the year. Or maybe simply because she has a heart of gold. She wanted to make a name for herself and her family. She is doing it every day now making her life large. Because of her daily interactions with the natives, it didn’t take her long to open them up, bring them out of their shyness, counsel them in every step of the way, and even before she realized it herself, she had become the center of the universe for them.
Ayushi didn’t just give up on a thriving career, or put her married life on hold but also braved severe climatic conditions. She felt nauseous and light-headed for many days in the beginning to having nose bleeds and other severe health issues but she refused to give up on these people. She has no regrets though. She is getting to meet influential people such as the Additional District Deputy Commissioner to the Army Captains of the area, every day, to bring about a change. Since Ayushi has the technical know-how, she has proposed to initiate an E-Commerce platform for ‘PAGIR’ which would host all the handmade products made out of recycled waste created by the special segment of the society that is usually scorned and looked down upon. She has even been delegated the task of managing a ‘PAGIR Cafe’ at the heart of the Main Market in the town which will also sell ‘PAGIR’ merchandise. To add yet another feather to her cap, the organization offered Ayushi to join the Board as one of the members.
After getting inspired by many people on her way she registered her own NGO in Leh named ‘HIMALAYAN HELPING HANDS’. They strive to provide employment opportunities for the youth, the differently-abled all alike, by establishing manufacturing units for the production of handmade products brought to existence by the residents of the NGO. They support education, sports, culture, and environmental issues.
The journey has just begun for this beautiful young woman. Some may call her mad but she doesn’t mind for she knows that the road she has taken may be full of bumps but the destination is paradise! She would have a soul-stirring, inspirational story to tell her children and hopefully her grandchildren someday. A story of hardship and sacrifice that will make generations after her feel proud of her.
We at GTI wish you all the very best for all the mammoth task that you have embarked on. Who needs a Batman or a Superman when we have such Bravehearts among us!
To know about ‘HIMALAYAN HELPING HANDS’ and the fabulous work they are doing, you may check out the following links given below: