Dr. Asha Pawagi founded the Nachiket Bal Wachanalaya to take books to children in rural Maharashtra in India.
“I tell parents that reading for pleasure opens up a child’s mind,” she says.
“It encourages them to learn on their own, it fosters a questioning mind. A child who knows what is going on in the outside world will ask why his village gets electricity for only two hours a day.”
Today, she is Asha tai (elder sister) to thousands of children. Children for whom she has opened the world of books.
She came to Canada in 1970 with a Master’s in Chemistry.
“Those days, the information about India was coloured by stereotypical images and my MSc was considered at best, as equivalent to a BSc. I am not complaining, that’s just how it was.”
She stayed home for the first few years to raise her children before enrolling at the University of Toronto to get her PhD in Biochemistry.
Nachiket was started with funds from her daughter Manjusha and son Harish, and continues to be funded by individual donations.
“You just need someone to bring a child and a good book together. That is my driving force,” says Dr Pawagi.
Posted: Feb 3, 2015