Parindey: Meenakshi Arya
Alivelihood: Dance for Social Change
Region: Delhi, India
“I want to see every child dance and make a healthy and comfortable connection with their bodies.”
A passionate dancer, Meenakshi dons multiple hats at the Samarpan Foundation where she has been working since 2015. Samarpan Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable organisation that was started in 2006 in New Delhi. They provide global support and assistance for humanitarian, ecological, environment and animal welfare issues. Their community of volunteers are guided by the principle of doing what needs to be done to achieve the greater good of the society. Samarpan foundation’s vision is to shed light even in the darkest corners and their mission is to change universal consciousness by opening minds and hearts.
The children at the Samarpan schools don’t have access to dance and other art forms because they live in remote areas.Beginning her journey as a volunteer with Samarpan Foundation in 2014, Meenakshi is now an academic support coordinator, event organiser and kids’ dance facilitator, with a vision to bring dance into every child’s life.
Meenakshi feels that dancing is not bound by age. Therefore, she conducts dance classes for all age groups. She uses dance as a tool that can help people connect with their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin. This was her challenge when it came to her body and emotions, which she overcame through dance. She also suggests her students to employ dancing after studying as a method to retain what they have learnt. This ensures that the kids have a healthier mind-body relationship and are able to perform well academically.
Meenakshi grew up in a joint family that gave her the skills needed to make and maintain connections with people. She studied in a government school where she always looked forward to theatre and dance activities. After finishing school, she joined a correspondence college and started working in order to support her family. Her busy work schedule left her with no time to pursue dance and theatre. Despite all the difficulties, she never lost the hope of becoming a dancer and at the age of 25, she gave dancing another shot. First, she tried western style of dancing but was not able to feel a connection with it. She then moved to classical dancing, and there she found herself again. During that period, she got an opportunity to work with kids with special needs for two years. That experience helped Meenakshi reflect on the role of patience in her life.
She also conducts dance classes separately to sustain and create more space for dance in this world. Her own journey motivates her to do well and provide the opportunity to other children that she herself never had. She is determined to create a space for everyone to learn and grow.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the children was transport. It was inconvenient for them to travel to the school in the city on a daily basis. The parents were concerned about the safety and well-being of their children. Samarpan Foundation aided in overcoming this challenge by opening multiple schools in the local community. This made it easier for the students to continue studying. Another challenge faced by the foundation was that the children did not receive admission in mainstream government schools because they couldn’t present a valid address proof. Meenakshi, on the other hand, faced her own set of problems raising funds. During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, she could not conduct her dance classes which impacted her income. With her entrepreneurial spirit, she tackled this issue by taking these classes online. Over the years, Meenakshi has transformed from a self-sacrificing person to someone who is committed to her journey of self-love and self-care. She is not only creating space within herself but also for others to grow and dance.
Meenakshi’s work has created a positive impact on the lives of many children. Now, more than 80% of students have received admission in government schools. Samarpan Foundation Schools have contributed to the overall growth of the children’s development by providing them with basic necessities like breakfast, lunch, stationery items, seasonal requirements like sweaters, caps, shoes, blankets and basic hygiene products.
Meenakshi’s vision and dream for the future is to open a dance studio where everyone will be welcomed with open arms. It will be a safe space to form a comfortable connection with dance as well as themselves.
Meenakshi can be reached at:email@example.com