Syracuse University’s Forever Orange Week culminated on March 29 with the Orange Circle Awards, an event that honored altruistic members of the Syracuse University community who have done extraordinary things in the service of others. Among the 2018 winners was the Nanhi Kali student organization at the School of Information Studies (iSchool).

The Orange Circle Award recognizes Syracuse individuals—including students, faculty, staff, and alumni—who go above and beyond in their daily lives and who possess a deep responsibility for extraordinary acts that better society. In addition to Nanhi Kali, other winners this year included alumnus Rob Long ’12, G’14 and the student groups Uplifting Athletes and The Shaped Clay Society.

A project of the Mahindra Foundation of India, Nanhi Kali supports education for underprivileged girls. The Hindi name, Nanhi Kali, means “little flower bud.” A group of passionate students from the iSchool runs Nanhi Kali’s Syracuse University chapter, recognizing that the education of women and girls is beneficial to all societies worldwide.

“The organization sends them to school, they provide supplies, so that the student feels like they’re a part of the school and that they can hold their heads up high as they attend the classes,” said Art Thomas, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the iSchool, and the faculty advisor for the Nanhi Kali student chapter at Syracuse.

“About 7.8 million girls in India don’t get to go to school and are married off before the age of 10,” explains Sushma Bhat G’18, president of Nanhi Kali and a student in the iSchool’s Information Management master’s program. “It’s typically believed that they should marry, raise kids, and take care of their household.”

The opportunity of an education can change an Indian girl’s entire life outlook.

“We have fought battles against honor killings, child marriage, and female infanticide,” said Shashank Nadig G’18 an Information Management graduate student and the organization’s marketing director. “I feel like the final piece of the puzzle of totally empowering women is education.”

On campus, the organization holds events and fundraisers events like “Diwali Night” and the “’Cuse Cup,” throughout the year to generate awareness of their mission and bring in donations to support the girls in India.

“People are amazed to know that a contribution of a mere $50 could help educate a girl child in India for the whole school year,” said Romil Shroff G’18, Information Management graduate student and volunteer engagement director for Nanhi Kali.

“So far, we have raised enough money to send 200 to 250 girls to school since 2010,” remarked Bhat. “When you receive the names of these girls, and look at their pictures, it just makes you so happy. Educating 1 girl, or 50 girls, might not seem like a very big thing, because there are millions of uneducated girls – but it’s one step at a time, and hopefully we can get to a point where everybody in this world is educated.”