Although some might be unaware of Shaheen Mistri, they are certainly acquainted with the non-profit organization Teach For India, which she has been heading since 2008. Not only that, Shaheen has been running the Akanksha foundation that she established in 1991, with the aim of improving the lives of children from low-income communities through quality education. An educator who has been putting her beliefs into action since the past 25 years, with plans to do more.
I grew up to realize that I got a lot of joy from being with children, and special joy from seeing how opportunity could unleash potential.”
A young child herself, Shaheen started volunteering from the age of 12. She elaborates, “I grew up to realize that I got a lot of joy from being with children, and special joy from seeing how opportunity could unleash potential.”
Shaheen overcomes every hurdle faced with grace and strength; driven by her passion to better the lives of children. “My 25 year journey has been up and down – as is any long journey with a vision that is still distant. The vision of all children attaining an excellent education drives me through the challenges and moments of struggle.” She strongly believes that leading a life of purpose and meaning would make the world a much better place. She would know, she has been doing it every day for most of her life.
Given her vast experience as a social activist Shaheen shares the reality of what it’s like. “I think the most important thing to know as a social activist is that this work takes commitment. It takes time and struggle. It is the work of failing repeatedly. It is the work of needing to come together to build a shared vision.”
My 25 year journey has been up and down – as is any long journey with a vision that is still distant. The vision of all children attaining an excellent education drives me through the challenges and moments of struggle.”
Shaheen’s devotion to the children she works with is evident in how she speaks of them. “My Akanksha and Teach For India children are my biggest inspiration in this work. They do little and big things every day to show me how incredible they are.”
Discussing future plans of both organisations, Shaheen says, “Akanksha aims to scale up its schools and become the largest, most effective network of government schools that have outstanding, holistic outcomes. Teach For India wants to build student, Fellow and Alumni leadership to reach one million children in the next five years – and to truly redefine what an excellent education looks like.” You too can be a part of this brilliant initiative -Visit apply.teachforindia.org to submit your application for the 2017-19 Fellowship programme by 13th Dec 2016.
A woman of noble thoughts, kind deeds and great wisdom, Shaheen has inspiring words for those wanting to get into her line of work, “Do it. It isn’t perfect – but it’s greatly needed. And it shapes you and gives you more than you could possibly imagine.”
A tough path shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your purpose. The pros far outweigh the cons. Ask Shaheen Mistri, she is the perfect example.