In a world that is rapidly changing one cannot afford to be a circumstance of change. To thrive, one needs to drive change and make sure that change is for to good of all. Malika Rawal’s story shows that when she empathized with a problem she faced a choice, to give herself permission to create change or to ignore her feelings. Guess what she chose?

When visiting India, and more precisely the villages her parents grew up in, Malika was struck by the spread of disease and poor sanitation in that community. She saw many people who were unable to afford clean water, let alone a toothbrush. She felt an immense connection to the people she met in the village and felt that she can play a role in changing this situation.

After going back to the US, Malika conducted some research on the importance of hygiene and learned that unsafe water and poor sanitation cause 80% of diseases in developing nations, and that access to sanitation, the practice of good hygiene, and safe water supply could save 1.5 million children a year. She realized that she could help protect many lives by increasing hygiene and sanitation.

Malika, then 14, founded the HelpHygiene Foundation with her friend Simran Bhargava as a way to support the youth in her village with education, funds, and products to address the sanitation issues in their community. Malika relies on the support of her community to organize, manage, and participate in drives across the state to collect shoes and hygiene products.

Fundraising more than $50,000 and implementing education programs in more than 25 classrooms is just the beginning of Malika's impact as she plans to expand on regions that are affected by natural disasters. Looking forward, she is excited to not only expand HelpHygiene to youth across the globe but also to spread the changemaking mindset.” Being a young changemaker means the world to me” says Malika. “Through this initiative, I have become more confident, [and] bettered my problem-solving abilities...The joy of helping others and seeing a change in this world is what I hope all youth get the opportunity to do.”

Caroline DelAngelo and Lucy Eills contributed to this story.

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