He is an educationist; a country representative for Glocal International Teen Conference (GITC) 2020 from India; among the top 10 global finalists for the VTRAC Programme by Harvard University; an invitee for the PennApps, the world’s biggest hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania; a Birla Young Indian awardee who works as a writer for visually challenged students and is the founder of Be Dauntless Foundation that empowers underprivileged children with quality education.
In these challenging times of Covid-19 pandemic, 18-year-old Kanhaiya Varshney is running a Meal To Heal campaign under the umbrella of Be Dauntless Foundation to provide two times meals and basic necessities to needy individuals at their doorstep. Born to a businessman father and a homemaker mother, Varshney is pursuing B Tech CSE from Jamia Hamdard.
Saurabh Tankha caught up with the teenager to find out more about him and his initiatives…
When did the idea of Be Dauntless strike and how did you go about it?
I had been teaching slum kids near my home for a couple of years and during this period, I got to know that society still practices evils like child marriage, gender discrimination and child labour. All this despite innumerable efforts by the government and NGOs at various levels. So after much deliberation, I thought to make a contribution from my end to bring about a change in the system. This was when Dauntless Foundation was born in June last year — to transform the lives of underprivileged children through quality education. Since we took off, Dauntless Foundation has empowered more than 5,000 lives in India. It is my belief that students with the passion for a cause and a solution can empower the world for the better.
How supportive have your parents been in this effort of yours?
In a lower middle class family, your family and relatives force you to pick up a secure job which can fetch you a fixed income and secure future. But what I have been doing is unconventional in our family. Despite all odds, I am working hard to follow my passion for humanity and making this world a better place to live in.
You write in your introductory note that “we have identified families who are in dire need of our help through a proper survey”. How and by whom was the survey undertaken and what were the findings basis which you started supplying meals to them?
We have Dauntless Saviors who risked their lives and went door-to-door to understand the requirements of the poor and needy. We did a survey in a slum called Sonia Gandhi Camp, South East Delhi. We listed down the family who didn’t have ration cards and couldn’t access government benefits. And then extended all help possible.
When did the Meal To Heal scheme start?
On the second day of the nationwide lockdown.
How do you define “basic necessities”?
Basic necessities are the items which are required for a person’s survival.
How many people have benefitted under the Meal To Heal?
We have served more than 15,000 cooked meals till date. Also we have provided them with grocery and PPE kits.
Do you only visit a specific area every day to extend the scheme or you explore new areas too?
We focussed on one zone at a time to provide meals twice a day on a regular basis. We are not doing this for the sake of doing it.
Where do you get your financial aid from?
We worked day and night tirelessly to raise funds through the crowdfunding platform.
Is Be Dauntless into other community services?
Our main vision is to provide quality education to underprivileged kids so that each one of them, especially those on the streets can live a life of dignity, respect and can get a better livelihood.
In the next three years, we aim to empower two million lives through quality education. Also, we will expand our work to 28 states to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals of — No Poverty, Quality Education, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being and Climate Action.