Ashweetha Shetty @ BodhiTree Skills, Tirunelveli

Ashweetha grew up in a small village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu – playing in the mud, throwing stones, stealing fruit and catching fish ! At 13, she  chanced upon the autobiography of Helen Keller, and a realisation dawned upon her – the power to transform life lies within oneself A good student , fascinated with teaching, she started a tuition centre for basic subjects. As the strength of the class grew, so did her confidence.

Ashweetha’s parents are beedi rollers, and she had to struggle and convince them   every time she wanted to study further.English was not her forte. She scored well in her graduation mainly through her memory and good handwriting! In her final year of graduation, she read about the Young India Fellowship in a Tamil magazine. A librarian helped her create an email id; a friend lent her a phone for the telephonic interview; with no money to travel to Delhi, the interview board arranged the final conversation on Skype. Ashweetha got the fellowship and left for Delhi. Despite initial struggles, the Fellowship opened her horizons. Good education and a respectable job, isn’t that the dream? Yet she felt something was amiss. Not everyone had the exposure to opportunities and improved soft skills needed for success.

Returning to Tirunelveli, she founded the Bodhi Tree Foundation to empower rural graduates, by imparting soft-skill training and exposure to opportunities. They conduct 3 hour awareness sessions about opportunities – fellowships, scholarships, government jobs, private jobs, entrepreneurship, etc available for rural college graduates. They also conduct focused two day training programmes on professional development for Arts and Science students and a course on positive attitude for polytechnic and engineering students.

In one year of operations 2500+  students attended awareness sessions, 600+ students trained for professional development and positive attitude in 20+ colleges. She now partners with organizations like LeapForWord with whom they aim to improve the English . Ashweetha is an Acumen fellow as well. She’s now looking at raising more funds to expand her reach, team, and programmes.

Plustrust supported Ashweetha for her personal expenses during the initial days of setting up the Bodhi Tree Foundation.

condensed from report by SNIGDHA SINHA