Her father, Dr. Srikant Jichkar, was one of the most educated persons in the country, she was an engineering drop-out. While she eventually went on to complete her graduation and post-graduation, she was cut-out for something more purposeful. When most teenagers are concentrating on studies and trying to figure out what career options they want to choose, Maitreyi Jichkar was establishing her “purpose” – a purpose of making a real impact to people’s lives.
Maitreyi Jichkar, in an exclusive chat with HerStory, talks about her purpose, her social initiatives and more…
“At the age of sixteen, I was clear with one thing, that whatever I do, I wanted my work to have an impact on people’s lives,” says Maitreyi Jichkar. “My mind was occupied with the thought of making a difference in this world. Maybe making a difference to the world was too ambitious, but I wanted to start somewhere.”
To accomplish this purpose and in memory of her late father, at a young age of 18, Maitreyi started the Dr. Shrikant Jichkar Foundation and established a youth lead platform Zero gravity.
As a part of Zero gravity, Maitreyi Jichkar formulated “Project Happiness” with a motto “Maximum happiness to a Maximum number of people”. She got together with a group of youngsters and decided to come up with a platform that empowers people to become change-makers and leaders. “In Project Happiness, we design activities, campaigns, and events of kindness that inspire people to give attention, affection, and appreciation, creating a pandemic of happy people,” says Maitreyi.
The founder and Chief ‘Happiness’ officer of Zero Gravity, Maitreyi Jichkar affirms “The world doesn’t treat all lives as if they have equal value, and we thought there was something that we could do about that and thus began our story.”
“What have you done today to make yourself proud? I was fixated on this question and decided to something about it. This paved the way for forming Zero Gravity which literally means nothing can hold us down”
The youth volunteer network Zero Gravity also operates The Happy School Project. It is a government school makeover project that implements the concept of Building as a Learning aid (BaLa). The project aims at enhancing the learning experience of students in government through visual imagery. It is about developing the school’s entire physical environment as a learning aid.
Maitreyi Jichkar and her NGO also run another project on similar lines – The Shelter Home Makeover project. The project is aimed at transforming shelter homes for women and children into places that inspire behavioral and psychological change. Though various mentoring programs and makeover of the physical space, women, and children are introduced to a way of thinking that helps them shift their outlook towards their lives and future possibilities.
“It’s been 10 years since Zero Gravity started and I am so proud and grateful to every person who has been a part of this journey in giving maximum happiness to a maximum number of people through quality education, healthcare, and sustainable livelihoods.” says a beaming Maitreyi Jichkar.
Her Father’s Daughter
Maitreyi Jichkar tells us, “My father has been my greatest source of inspiration. With 20 degrees from different universities, he was rated as the most educated person in the country. He was a Home Minister at the age of 25. The more you know about it, the more you want to find out (read more about Dr. Shrikant Jichkar here) He was also an academician, social worker, photographer, stage actor, a brilliant orator and founder of the famous Sandapani school. His dynamism, his intellect, his legacy of work – he always had extraordinary ways to do ordinary things.”
“He was deeply loved by the people he had served. Just the way he led his life and how beautifully he had raised me and my brother made a profound impact on my personality. He encouraged us to always be learners and never consider any job lesser. He always taught us to celebrate the people who are with us on our journey because nothing can be achieved alone”
Zero Gravity is a growing family
Zero Gravity is hugely popular in Central India and has a team of motivated, enthusiastic, self-driven youth. The organization is expanding to different cities and states and would continue to be heavily focused on The Happy School project and The Shelter Home Makeover project. “Both these projects are very close to my heart. We are looking at slowly scaling up our Happy School Project with government schools all over the country by working in collaboration with education departments of various state governments.” says a determined Maitreyi.
Project Hindustan is another key project that Zero Gravity is working on. It is a holistic rural development project that provides solutions to rural problems and empowers locals. In the near future, it would launch scholarships and fellowships for deserving individuals.
A message to youngsters
To begin, begin – don’t wait. Don’t fear of being unrealistic. Have sleepless nights, embrace them – that’s where the magic happens. When everyone else is asleep, you have the opportunity to find your ‘purpose’ and compose your life’s story that you’ll be excited to share with the world!