Vandana Agarwal

Mother Teresa used to say, "I alone cannot change the world but can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. " Little did I know that a serendipitous encounter with Saint Teresa as a kid would alter the fate of my career. Growing up in the metropolises of Calcutta and Delhi I came to be deeply perturbed by the contrasting silhouette of divided India – flanked by the excess of the gliteratti on one hand and heart-wrenching destitution on the other. This implored me to work for the upliftment of the poor.

As an architect I started my career working with Development Alternatives on affordable housing projects and experiments on sustainable architecture. But I needed to play a more micro level hands-on role and leverage my creativity and design sensibilities. I set out designing and painting saris. I was able to sell over 1000 pieces and donated 100 percent of the proceeds. I have also volunteered at Blind Peoples Association, where I translated several books in Braille and recorded audio cassettes.

Painting has always been my outlet for satisfaction and expression. Over the years, I have held several exhibitions to showcase my work across the country and used the takings to contribute towards initiatives aimed at the greater good of society.

For the last 20 years, I serve at NGOs Manav Sadhna, Earn n learn, Gramshree, Craftroots and Paryavarn Mitra, for the holistic development of women, children and artisans. My association with them as a trustee and designer has been the most fulfilling chapter of my life which has made me a more humble and complete being. We have been able to touch the lives of, train and support so many individuals and families. Today, I like to consider today as my extended family.

“Dreams“ was born as I came across many dreamers in the course of my work. I realized that with a little support and a little effort, we could completely change so many lives. Many friends and family members were interested in joining hands to start small businesses for willing entrepreneurs. This is the way to a sustainable future. How long can charity work for any person and family? Unless it is sustainable, it has no future. This is the idea behind Dreams Foundation.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey thus far and am excited for the hope the future has to offer.

My message to all ----

There is no greater happiness and joy than getting a chance to make a difference. Don’t let go of that chance, do not spend your life working only for yourself and your family.