2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominee: Maya Dhal

Growing up in the SOS Village in Bhubaneswar, India, Maya Dhal thrived on the love and support of her SOS family. Her belief that every child should have the same opportunity led her to the slums where she teaches school dropouts and helps them return to the classroom.

As a college student, Maya used her own money to buy books and other teaching materials 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 the SOS Children’s Villages family after the death of her parents. Her fondest memories are of celebrations and festivals.

Although she had access to good schools, Maya studied hard to be accepted to a Bachelor of Science program in hotel and hospitality management. She believes giving a child an education does not require many resources, but that it absolutely requires commitment.

“Because of SOS Children’s Villages I am here,” Maya said.

“This motivates me to help poor children in their education so that they can at least be educated, live independently, help their families, and be of support to someone in their society.”

She is proud of each of her achievements, but is especially proud of her appointment as management trainee in a prestigious hotel and convention center. She was chosen from among 800 student applicants.

Maya’s greatest wish is that everyone would, in their own way, do their part to help the needy and contribute to a better, safer environment to live in – especially for girls.

“Maya’s success is being shared as an example in the community to mobilize other children to opt for decent pathways to fulfil their life dreams,” said Ajaya Dash, Village Director of the SOS Village in Bhubaneswar.

>> See the other 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominees