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Pennsylvania Girl Scout Travels to Rural India to Provide First Aid Lessons to Over 1,000 Students

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September 25, 2015 (Hummelstown, Pa.) –Ambassador Girl Scout Shreya Thakur, 17, from Hummelstown, Pa. didn’t let over 6,000 miles or a language barrier stop her drive to provide rural students in Bihar, India essential lifesaving skills. She saw it as a challenge, which inevitably earned her the most prestigious and highest award in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award, through Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA).  

“Although I knew that it would be hard to create a Gold Award Project so far away from home with unfamiliar people speaking an unfamiliar language, I knew that nothing was impossible if I believed that what I was doing was beneficial and important to people,” said Shreya.

And it is important to the people of rural Bihar, India, where hospitals are far away and hard to access while injuries happen frequently. “If someone falls unconscious or severely injures him/herself, it takes approximately 28 minutes, if not more, due to traffic and availability, for an ambulance to arrive. In that much time, a severely injured or unconscious person can possibly die.”

Bihar holds a special place in Shreya’s heart because it is the village where her mother grew up. Enlisting the help from her grandparents, who live in Bihar, Shreya pulled together a list of eight middle and high schools where she could teach essential First Aid lessons to the students. With locations established all she had to do was translate her Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid knowledge into Hindi.

With much work and practice Shreya developed and used her newly acquired Hindi skills to create lessons and presentation aids that covered topics essential to life in Bihar like CPR, choking, external bleeding and/or broken bones, head injuries, heat stroke, diarrhea and dehydration in a language her students could understand.

“Communicating was the biggest challenge,” said Shreya who collectively taught First Aid and CPR to over 1,000 students in a 3 week span during the summer. “I connected with the village community and the children I taught because I laughed with them when I made mistake in my Hindi and we formed a sense of friendship.”

In addition to her lessons, Shreya conducted CPR demonstrations with the students where they had the opportunity to practice using a manikin. She also provided the schools with First Aid boxes and students with index cards with vital First Aid lessons and numbers for nearby ambulance services.

“I hope that the students realized that they have the power to save peoples’ lives,” said Shreya, “I hope the knowledge they gained inspired them to make a difference in their communities.”

And in doing so, Shreya discovered that she could also make a difference in her community and the global community. “If I keep looking for ways to make a difference with projects, similar to the Gold Award, I know that I will end up more confident in my teaching ability, more able to interact with others and work with them, and more willing to inspire myself and others to help those in need,” said Shreya.

The Gold Award challenges Girl Scouts in grades 9 – 12 to change the world, no matter how big or small their impact might be.

“Shreya has shown us how one girl can change the world and make it a better place,” said Kelsey Evans, GSHPA’s Program Manager. “Shreya demonstrated extraordinary leadership within her Gold Award project, and challenged herself to go above and beyond the call to create a sustainable global impact. She is an inspiration to us all.”

Earning the most prestigious award in Girl Scouting is just one of many accomplishments that Shreya has achieved, which includes earning her Girl Scout Silver and Bronze Awards. Shreya is active senior at Hershey High School with activities like Science Olympiad, Model United Nations, Science Fair, National Honors Society, French National Honors Society, Pulse, and varsity tennis. After she graduates in 2016 she plans to pursue a degree in biology and medicine.

Shreya and other Gold Award recipients from across central and northeastern Pennsylvania will be honored at a special Centennial Gold Award luncheon in June 2016.