Thinking of kids outside our borders

Local branch of nonprofit organization helps children in India travel to school


Aliya Zakir

Coppell High School juniors (top row) Mehak Gandotra, Sana Shine, Pranathi Kommaraju, Sahasra Bajjuri, (bottom row) Swati Kulshrestha, Nandini Petluti, Mahek Khandelwal and Akshadha Challa lead Think Kids, the youth chapter of international nonprofit organization: Think Peace. Currently, Think Kids is focused on a Cycle to School project with a goal of providing bicycles for children in India who live too far from school to walk, limiting their access to education.

Iniya Nathan, Student Life Editor

There are many places in India that do not have electricity. There are many children that do not have proper clothing or shoes. Unfortunately, there are also those that do not have access to education.

Think Peace, a registered nonprofit charitable trust under the Indian government, was founded by Kiran Chukkapalli to create an equitable and prosperous India for all of its citizens. Currently, Chukkapalli is traveling across India to create solutions to the problems he sees. According to Coppell High School junior Nandini Petluri, Chukkapalli has traveled 11,000 kilometers around the borders of India, went to 12 states, 80 camps and visited 36,000 families to collect some statistics and facts about refugees.

Think Kids, the youth chapter of Think Peace, was founded by Petluri in 2015 and revamped in 2020. Think Kids is currently focusing on the Cycle to School Project, which is a part of the nonprofit organization’s most recent project is the Refugee Aid Project (RAP), a project intended to help the refugees that are seeking or have sought asylum in India live better lives.

The Cycle to School Project’s goal is to provide bicycles for children that live too far from school to walk, which limits their access to education.

“Unfortunately, there’s not enough students in [refugee] camps that [Think Peace] can build schools like we did [before],” Petluri said. “It’s just not possible with the resources and even the space. So what we’re trying to do, as a temporary solution for them, is to provide them with bicycles so that they can bike the multiple kilometers and come back faster, easier and safer.”

Petluri has been involved with Think Peace since she was in third grade, joining after hearing about it from involved family members. She moved to India in fifth grade, which opened her eyes to the severity of conditions. After moving back to Coppell in ninth grade, Petluri decided she wanted to have a chapter established here.

Petluri has worked to help get light, books and better school facilities in India. Think Kids has raised enough money to give bicycles to children in a village of North Delhi. 

Since its conception, many of Petluri’s friends and peers have joined Think Kids, which has helped the organization grow larger.

“I joined because there is not enough awareness and there’s not enough people helping refugees in India [to] solve all these problems,” CHS junior event director Pranathi Kommaraju said. “My favorite part [of Think Kids] is knowing that I’m doing something to help people because [refugees are] not getting the help they deserve. Knowing that I’m in some way helping them makes me feel a lot better about what we’re doing. What we’re doing actually has an impact on people’s lives.”

Kommaraju has helped coordinate clothing drives and bake sales as means for fundraising, and many Think Kids members also fundraise door to door. There are plans for a future fundraising event during Halloween, although exact details are yet to be confirmed.

Most of the people who joined Think Kids were involved with Think Peace beforehand and wanted to dedicate more of their time and effort to the cause.

“The project that especially got me interested was [the] light project [where] they were trying to bring light to Araku Valley in India,” CHS junior Akshadha Challa said. “It was about getting [people’s] basic needs met, like electricity. We did fundraisers [in] Dallas and it directly impacted the village in India.”

“We started with the door to door approach,” Challa said. “We tried to get people involved and that worked in our favor really well. We had some sponsors and donors who donated upwards of $500 because they were so interested in what we were talking about. We had a clothing drive [where] we collected as much clothing as possible to turn whatever we received for the clothing monetarily into proceeds for the Cycling to School Project.”

Think Kids has been expanding rapidly, with chapters starting in Valley Ranch, Flower Mound, Frisco and areas in India where help can be more direct and hands-on.

“Coppell, even though it is the first branch, [is] the weakest branch. All of our other teams are extremely ambitious as well. We’re really excited to watch those,” Petluri said.

Despite how far Think Kids has come since its conception, they are still looking for more hands to help their cause.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Petluri said. “The more volunteers the merrier.”

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