WTOP Top Kids: Bethesda teens work for education in India

Two teens from Bethesda, Maryland, are working to educate girls — 8,500 miles away in India.

Meera Dahiya and Saira Rathod have been working with the Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education for years. And it’s part of a lifelong friendship the two share.

“Meera and I have known each other since second grade, because we went to the same elementary school,” Rathod told WTOP.

Athletics was something they could both focus on.

Saira Rathod and Meera Dahiya at the Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education. (Courtesy Saira Rathod and Meera Dahiya)

They wanted to share the lessons they have learned through sports like leadership, discipline, teamwork, health and wellness.

“Sports is a huge aspect of our lives … literally every single day after school, we go outside and play with our neighbors, or we would be on the school sports team,” Rathod said. “So when we found out they didn’t have any sports, you’re like, wait, we should build a sports court for them.”

“We just got really involved with the school because we love the mission of the school,” Meera Dahiya said.

Dahiya and Rathod have raised $18,000 by teaching a Bollywood summer dance camp in the D.C. area, hosting jewelry shows and spearheading an annual “Holi” festival event, which celebrates the onset of spring for the Indian community.

“It was just really amazing to see like, all the work that we put in over the past four years come into realization,” Dahiya said.

She added that the positive attitudes of the girls at the school was inspiring. And even though they’re college freshmen now, their connection to the Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education remains strong.

“Both [Rathod] and I plan to stay … involved with the school and we really built a strong connection with all the people there,” Dahiya said.

“This is not just a project that we did in high school and that’s, it’s truly something we plan to continue for the rest of our lives and stay connected with.”

This article is part of WTOP’s TOP Kids program, where kids in the D.C. area are recognized for the amazing things they do. The winners are awarded $500. The program is sponsored by Northwest Federal Credit Union. Nominate a TOP Kid you know here.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this report.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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