Speaker: Anjali Desai

Lessons from Slum Children

Anjali Desai is a polymath. Originally from Houston, Texas, she came to India in 2003 as an Indicorps Fellow. Her two-year fellowship on community development and women's empowerment turned into nine years and counting in India. She has worked on earthquake relief projects, been a cornerstone of Manav Sadhna's volunteer and education programs, a founding member of Seva Cafe, and director of Gramshree. Trained as a writer, she has produced two books, one the definitive travel guide on Gujarat and another on Ahmedabad. This work makes her a leading world expert on the history, culture, and geography of Gujarat. With an innate ability to marry beauty and service, Anjali has an exquisite aesthetic sense and has designed clothing, physical spaces, print and online art for her various projects. 

Several years ago, Anjali was walking through a slum when a young girl approached her, hardly 14 years old. She told Anjali she had not been allowed to attend school, but she wanted to be educated. Now her family was going to marry her off, what should she do? Moved by that interaction, Anjali established a street school in that slum community. The children named it Patangyu ("Of kites"). The school was built by the local children with waste materials found in the community. The teaching is progressive, values-based, mixed-aged, and driven by peer learning. 

Anjali recently returned from a 900km walking pilgrimage in Spain, most of which she did in silence. 

Known for her tireless energy and work ethic, Anjali has a natural ability to make those around her smile. To hundreds of people, she is a wise counselor, a trusted confidante, and a close companion. Deeply balanced and aware, she regularly practices yoga and meditation. Whether it's inner or outer work, Anjali has mastered the ability to create value, no matter the circumstances.

Please join us this Saturday to hear more about Anjali's journey and how she has "bloomed wherever planted..."

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