Written by: Rebecca Alger
After learning the art of henna on a trip to India in 2009, junior Jayshree Sarathy wanted to find a way to bring together her love of art with charity. Earlier in 2012, Sarathy started Handfuls of Hope, a program designed to use culture to donate money to Asha for Education.
Asha, which means hope in numerous Indian dialects, is a non-profit organization dedicated to make sure that all children in India receive a basic education. “This is really important to me, because I feel that education can really lift a community,” Sarathy said.
Sarathy believes that education can change the socio-economic status of India because it enables children to reach new heights in life. “Their cause means a lot to me personally, because I go to India every year and see firsthand the immense poverty many children live in,” Sarathy said. “If I can help just one child have an education through my charity, it is worth it.”
Sarathy aspires to educate others about the necessity of education, and how it can change a nation. “Education will promise a better future for both the child
and the community for generations to come,” Sarathy said. “That is why although the task of educating all the children in India seems impossible, helping just one child or just one village is worth it. I hope my charity will not only change children’s’ lives but also raise awareness about the problem and how everyone can make a difference.”
Sarathy works with the Asha chapter at Stanford in order to for her business to receive more public interest than she would otherwise. “By working with Asha Stanford, Jayshree will receive some support from us with publicity of her venture as an unofficial Asha fundraiser,” Asha chapter coordinator Harendra Guturu said. “In addition, she will be able to discuss with us on which project she would like her donation to benefit.”
Sarathy is typically hired to do henna at birthday parties, wedding and engagement ceremonies, international festivals or just for fun. Menlo Park parent Shelia Jimenez hired Sarathy for her ten-year-old daughter’s birthday party. “By hiring Jayshree I was delighted to contribute to charity while also providing an entertaining outlet for the youngsters at my daughter’s party,” Jimenez said.
There are no set prices for Sarathy’s designs. Clients get to choose the amount they pay Sarathy. She typically receives donations between $5 to $25, which shows just how much difference leaving the price range open can make. “The unique thing about my charity is that I don’t charge a specific amount for henna designs, Jayshree said. “People can donate how much ever they want to, and will receive a henna design in exchange.”
Sarathy is not alone in setting up an individual program made for donating money to Asha because Asha solely collects its funds through its own fund-raising activities and from donations from groups or individuals. “In 2010, the SF Bay Area Network of Indian Professionals donated proceeds from their annual Gala, Guturu said. “In 2011, Ankit Jain held a Bollywood Costume Party and donated proceeds from the event to Asha Stanford.”
Jimenez believes that Sarathy’s business helps not only Asha for education, but also the people that she exposes the culture and art of henna to. “Exposing my own daughters to accomplished, talented, and bright young ladies provides them with positive role models,” Jimenez said. “And on top of her personal accomplishments, I find it admirable that Jayshree has the desire to help those who are less fortunate than herself. Observing other youngsters putting their altruistic ideals into action can do nothing but benefit my girls.”