‘Unique’, ‘no other’ or ‘one with no parallel’ in the ancient language of Sanskrit.
My name is a perfect example of irony – it means ‘unique’ but it is one of the most common names in India, which is where I’m from.
Hello! My name is Ananya Saluja, and I’m your average nineteen-year old girl. I am a freshman at Pomona college. I did my schooling from The Shri Ram School. I volunteered during my last four summer vacations in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. I taught children in the schools of remote villages, in both the Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh, through the 17000 ft Foundation. It was the most life changing experience, and the children’s amazing reactions and responses made even the occasional accompanying altitude sickness worth it.
Through this blog I hope to share my experiences with you, and maybe inspire you enough to lend a helping hand and help change the lives of these children.
In the summer of 2015 I volunteered for the first time in Ladakh, visiting and teaching in three villages in Leh district – Liktsey, Turtuk and Tialing. After the trip I fundraised for a playground and a library, and in the summer of 2016 I volunteered and also set up the playground in Matho village. In the years 2016 to 2017, I fundraised for 33 libraries to be set up in the Kargil district of Ladakh. In the summer of 2017 I became the first volunteer to visit Kargil with 17000ft Foundation. I visited and taught in the village of Lankerchey Thang in the Kargil district, and set up one of the 33 libraries there. In the summer of 2018 I visited two villages in Kargil, Salampora (in Dras, the second coldest inhabited place in the world) and Latoo. I also spent a Sunday morning with the children at 17000 ft’s library The Next Chapter, in Leh. Here is a video of some of the many memorable moments from my trips to Ladakh!
Frequently Asked Questions (or things you may just be wondering about):
As aforementioned, Ladakh is in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and is a cold desert. It is in Northern India among the Himalayan mountains. The weather here is often described as a child’s temperament – extremely unpredictable, and I couldn’t agree more! Ranging from an altitude of 9,000-25,200 feet, it is home to the highest motorable road on the Khardung La pass (18,400 feet) and the highest battleground (Siachen). The people here are the most pleasant natured people you’ll ever meet – welcoming you into their houses as if you’re one of their own kin, forever smiling despite being subjected to such difficult living conditions. Seeing the wide grins on the rosy cheeks of the children can melt even your fingers which are sure to freeze from the temperatures which are likely to fall below 0 ⁰C. Running water, electricity and bathrooms are rare, and this land is untouched by first world luxuries like wifi, internet and fast food.
Ladakh is truly a sight to behold, perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited, fit to be called ‘heaven on earth’.
2) Where did you get the idea?
My aunt heard about 17000ft Foundation, and mentioned it to me as a possibility for the summer of 2015. I love both children and teaching, and so I didn’t hesitate before agreeing to her idea. The rest, of course, is history!
3) What is this blog?
This blog is almost like a journal I kept while in Ladakh- a day to day summary of everything I did, the highlights and hardships faced and just how much this experience has changed my life. Most of the pictures and videos you see on this blog have been taken by my aunt or by me. A couple have been borrowed from the staff of 17000ft Foundation, with their permission.
I hope you find inspiration here, to help the children in Ladakh out as well, because I know in the end it’ll change your life more than you’ll ever change theirs.