MAYA DHAL Maya helps slum children get back to school Growing up in SOS Children’s Village Bhubaneswar in India, Maya Dhal (24) thrived on the love and support of her SOS Children’s Village family. It motivated and enabled her to excel academically and get a good job. Her belief that every child should have the same opportunity has led her to the slums to teach school dropouts and help them return to the classroom. Maya Dhal. Photo: SOS Children´s Villages As a college student Maya used her own pocket money to buy books and other teaching material for 27 children living in a slum in Bhubaneswar. Most of them had dropped out of school, but returned with her support. Maya was only four months old when she joined her SOS Children’s Villages family after the death of her parents. Her fondest memories are of celebrations and festivals – “the gatherings, the love and the bonding we shared apart from ordinary days”. Although she had access to good schools Maya studied hard to be accepted in a Bachelor of Science programme in hotel & hospitality management. She is convinced that giving a child an education does not necessarily require many resources, but rather commitment. “Because of SOS Children’s Villages I am here. This motivates me to help poor children in their education so that they can at least be educated, stand independently, help their families and be of support to someone in their society,” said Maya. Maya Dahl as a child at the SOS Children's Village Bhubaneswar. Photo: SOS Children's Villages. She is proud of each of her achievements, but describes her appointment as management trainee in a prestigious hotel and convention centre as one of the biggest. She was chosen out of 800 other students. “Maya’s success is being shared as an example in the SOS Children’s Village and the community to mobilise other children to opt for decent pathways to fulfil their life dreams,” said Ajaya Dash, Village Director of SOS Children’s Village Bhubaneswar. Mayas greatest wish for a better world is that everyone in their own way does their bit to help the needy and contribute to a better, safer environment to live in, especially for girls.