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At 16, Tech Trek Recipient Radhika Is Already Making Quite a Difference
Radhika Mitra, AAUW Fremont branch
2005 Tech Trek recipient and a student at Irvington High School,
couldn’t get the young Indian boy out of her mind.
|One of the AAUW Co-Presidents, Jeanne Delp,
with Radhika at the Human Slavery Trafficking Event
On a visit with her parents and
family back to their native India a few years ago, she was riding in a taxi when
a ragged homeless boy, who lived under the highway, came to the cab’s
window while the light was green and tried to sell her a handmade necklace.
Then the light turned green, and
as they rummaged in their bags to buy something from him, a rickshaw
came by and suddenly trampled him.
“I felt bad that I never
found out what happened to him and that I wasn’t able to help him,”
said Radhika. “But I came to realize that I wanted to help
people like him who are in need and who have artwork to sell to others.”
She then thought
long and hard about how she could help and who she could help.
“I’ve been around
artists all my life,” explained Radhika.
“My dad is an excellent photographer; my grandfather is a writer
and plays piano; my 14-year-old sister Ritwika is a singer; and my
mother Susmita loves interior design. So it just seemed
natural to me to help struggling, poor artists and craftspeople like
the boy in India who don’t even have the materials and training to
turn out their works of art.”
The whole family
became very enthusiastic about Radhika’s idea and they all worked
together to help her realize her dream.
Her father Souyma,
who is a marketing manager at EMC, did all the paperwork to establish
a 501(C) 3 non-profit status for the agency they named Renaissance Now.
He also created a compelling web site for the charitable
endeavor. Her sister videotaped interviews
with artists which are now on the website. Everyone lent
a hand to make the non-profit a reality.
“They chose the name
Renaissance Now,” said Radhika, “because the family loved the
European Renaissance period of art and culture and wanted
to help create a renaissance of the same kind in our world today.”
purpose is to help underprivileged artists and their communities
around the world create great art by providing tools, teaching them
modern marketing techniques and displaying their products via the website.
Now the non-profit
has grown from a family affair to an organization with many volunteers
who are as enthusiastic as Radhika about helping poor artists make
their mark in the world.
Their first Renaissance
Now assignment was to go to a week-long fair in India where underprivileged
artists and craftspeople sold their wares. To help them out,
Radhika and her family distributed tool kits to make their creative
work easier and more saleable.
“What we discovered,”
added Radhika, “was that the artists needed more than tool kits
– they needed training, quality control education, help with packaging,
understanding of sales channels and shops to display and sell their art work.
We saw our work cut out for us.”
“The reason the
family chose India is because they are familiar with the country
of their birth. They can also stay with relatives to reduce expenses.
This allows them to direct all of their funds to helping the
artists in need. Their charter also encompasses helping
other artists in a variety of communities around the world.
But what has all
this to do with AAUW Fremont Branch?
By happenstance Mary Lynn Pelican, our branch’s co-VP of membership, met Radhika at
Irvington High School while mentoring a student there.
her experience as an AAUW-sponsored Tech Trek camper at Mills College
in 2005 and also mentioned she had started a non-profit organization with
her father to help impoverished artists.
|Mary Lynn, Radhika, her sisters, and her father
at the Human Slavery Trafficking Event
Radhika,” said Mary Lynn, “was a lucky coincidence. I
immediately had the passion to help her with her non-profit organization
by connecting her with AAUW.”
Mary Lynn invited Radhika
to our annual Women’s History Luncheon, which is a fundraiser
for Tech Trek scholarships.
Mary Lynn also told Randy Fewel,
then president of the chapter, about Radhika’s dream of helping poor
artists realize their dreams. Randy connected Radhika to
Sister Caritas of the Sisters of the Holy Family, who were organizing
a Human Trafficking Conference on June 20, 2009. This fair
raised money for people – men, women and children – who have been literally
sold into slavery by trickery and falsehood and now find themselves
stranded, alone and helpless, away from their families and countries.
Radhika and her family
put together a booth and sold some of the craft items they had collected from India.
“We had just
one of each craft item from the fair in India and we pretty well sold
everything. We raised $1,000 for Renaissance Now and all
the attendees who bought the items were very impressed with their
beauty,” said Radhika.
The 16-year-old Irvington
High School junior is grateful to AAUW for listening to her dream of
helping artists and helping them realize that dream.
“I’m so appreciative
of all the help that AAUW has given me – as a recipient of a Trek Tech
scholarship as well as the chapter’s support of Renaissance Now,”
If you would like
more information about Renaissance Now and the work that Radhika Mitra
and her family are doing to help artists, please visit their website at