The world is still grappling with drinking water shortage and sanitation problems. Many researchers have been trying to find a solution for these vexed issues. Meeraa Ramakrishnan and Nainika Reddy Kommera from Hyderabad have been working towards this goal for the past two years. What is unusual is that they are both just 16 years old. Their efforts have resulted in many underprivileged students at government schools getting access to drinking water through Avaagat, the foundation set up by the two girls.
Talking about their joint campaign, Nainika says, “Initially, when we visited government schools, we were looking at helping them with sports; but we saw that it was good drinking water that they truly wished for. So we focused our energy on this.” Avaagat co-founder and recipient of the Diana Award 2021, Meeraa says, “We’ve built the project so that it is sustainable, and we hope to see it grow further in the future. Our target audience is people close to our age, so interacting with them always pushes us to do more.” Esta-blished in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Diana Award recognises those aged between 9 and 25 years for their social or humanitarian work.
Meeraa says “Winning the award has helped our project connect with several others across the world. The wonderful network of change-makers I have been able to meet inspires me to contribute more to society and work harder to live up to Princess Diana’s legacy.” The young crusaders have been classmates and friends since Grade 5. Talking of her collaboration with Nainika, Meeraa says, “I had the opportunity to work on a social cause with one of my closest friends, so the experience was extremely enjoyable.”
The girls are supported and encouraged in their endeavour by their parents. But balancing studies and engaging in social work after school hours is challenging. “The project initially took up around 10 hours a week, and we had to give up school time to meet the cause. However, because there were two of us working on this initiative, we were able to manage it well and ensure that our academic progress was not hindered,” shares Meeraa. The dynamic duo, who also share an interest in basketball, reading and dancing, will soon be heading to the USA to pursue higher studies in biomedical science.