Girl Scout Gives Back to Help Local Refugees


On a school field trip to Santa Catalina, one of California’s Channel Islands lying southwest of Los Angeles, I started to look at the world with a new pair of eyes. I felt the urge to do something for the world around me. When I learned about how we are hurting animals by polluting the Earth, I decided that I should try to prevent this. I also feel the same way about people and how we could do more to help one another.

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I have been a Girl Scout for about seven years and enjoy getting to work on projects with my co-scouts. We learn about our community and how we can help the world around us. My troop and I completed our Bronze Award by raising awareness of the California drought. We also completed a Journey project by collecting everyday essentials for people affected by the California wildfires. This action leads us to earning our Silver Award, which is our next goal. A year ago, my troop became involved in more serious community service projects and one in particular influenced me a great deal.

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I couldn't agree more with Mr. Churchill’s words. In December 2016, as part of my troop activity, I made holiday baskets for PRERNA, an organization that helps refugee families who are trying to rebuild a new life in a new country far away from their homeland. I thought it was a fun project and it felt good to know that the baskets were being shared for a good cause. When I learned more about refugees in sixth grade and what a hard life they have, I understood the value of those holiday baskets and what they would mean to the families who got them. Refugees come from many different countries, and in many cases, they were forced to leave their home country. They have lost their families, their friends, their belongings and the comforts of their home. Everything, starting with food, the language, the culture, the ways of living would be new to these families. I realized that if this were to happen to me, it would be the scariest thing!

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PRERNA is a great organization that is helping refugee families resettle in a new place, finding them housing, books and toys for their children, jobs and opportunities for them to feel at home. I am so thankful to my troop leader, Mrs. Reena Arya, for organizing the holiday activity for my troop. When we had the opportunity to make the baskets again this past year, I readily participated. It reminded me of what I learned in school and how I missed my family and the comfort of my home when I was out on a school trip for just one week. I was happy to know that our small gesture in making the baskets would give a family some happiness and hope that one day they will feel comfortable in their new country where they can celebrate their holidays. See more photos of my Girl Scout troop and PRERNA volunteers making holiday baskets together.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to help families in need and I hope to continue being a part of PRERNA’s other volunteer activities. Some of the things I can think of doing to help include sharing food as I love to cook. My favorite part about cooking is that eating good food makes people happy. Making food also has an artistic element. When I cook pasta or make a salad, I try to plate it in a way that showcases my creativity. I really enjoy cooking different types of cuisine and sometimes try making some fusion bites, using ingredients from my mom’s Indian spice box with western recipes. I could also organize a cultural day or spend an afternoon with some of the children to play a game of basketball or share music with the refugee families. I am eager to help PRERNA in making someone’s life better in their journey as they adopt America as their new home.

About the Author:

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Ambika Ramadurai is a 12-year old girl who lives with her mother, father and brother in a beautiful suburban area in San Jose, California. She attends middle school and is in the seventh grade where she is on the basketball team and swims for fun. Ambika likes to play other sports, including soccer, volleyball, tennis and martial arts, and says sports have helped her learn how to be a team player. As part of her Indian heritage, Ambika sings and plays the mridangam, a type of hand drum which is the main percussion instrument used in Indian classical music. Music helps her connect with her roots in India and it has been part of her family for many generations. When Ambika grows up, she would like to be a marine biologist to study the way marine animals live and possibly help them.

(NOTE: This blog was written with the guidance of Padmini Sripathi who is Ambika’s mother. Photo consent was received from her family.)