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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Thanks to Smitha Ramakrishna’s efforts, over 3,000 children in India’s slums are getting safe, clean drinking water. Ramakrishna received an honorable mention in the Action For Nature International Young Eco-Heroes competition. When Ramakrishna, 14, of Chandler, Ariz., visited India with her parents, she was concerned that many children attended schools without clean water supply. She returned to the United States with a plan—and a children’s chapter of ASHA was born. ASHA is an action group that supports education, health care, and other basic needs in India. Taking her work one step further, Ramakrishna also founded AWAKE, Water Activists Karing for the Environment. “(My) vision for the future is to provide clean potable water to more villages in India. Water is a basic necessity and not a privilege and I find it my responsibility to continue in these efforts to ensure potable water to many kids,” says Ramakrishna. As part of her efforts, she organized two walk-a-thons in Tempe, Ariz., and raised over $4,000. The funds were used to purchase a treatment system to provide clean drinking water for children living in the slums in India. In March 2006, Ramakrishna presented her project at the Second Children’s World Water Forum in Mexico sponsored by UNESCO. Today, she spends 10 to 15 hours a week volunteering time for social causes. “I feel that it is not the honorable mention that is important but the publicity of my project is more important. Also, the chance to help more underprivileged kids through this project is important to me,” says Ramakrishna. She invites all children in the Metro Phoenix area to participate in the Asha Arizona Kids chapter ( “I would like to tell my peers to get involved, be active, and that we can make a difference by working together.” Now how’s that for a young superhero?

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 36-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...