Every step counts

Local nonprofit supports Chantilly and schools around the world


Roshni Puli

Sophomore Arnold Chinbat, Rocky Run Principal Amy Goodloe, Rocky Run English teacher Jeannine Magwire and Spanish teacher Zoraida Vazquez run for a cause at the Asha-Jyothi 5K.

Reva Rajan, staff writer

The cheering crowd takes off, knowing every step is promoting a brighter future. Each dollar donated benefits schools and improves health conditions in the villages of India. The organization, Asha-Jyothi (AJ), began in Chantilly by Charger parents whose goal was to promote education as well as improve healthcare in India, where they grew up.

“The fundraised money goes to a multitude of campaigns in India, all based on two main motives: promoting healthcare and educating the underprivileged,” senior and AJ head volunteer Roshni Puli said.

The organization not only aids programs in India, but it has also reached out to the local community by donating money to schools to foster an environment for innovation.

“Over the years, our organization has grown to multiple fundraising events and a partnership with FCPS schools,” Puli said.

AJ is currently partnering with Chantilly to partially fund the Innovation Lab being built in the school library. The lab aims to form a stimulating environment in which students can explore their creative side in an open space.

“The Innovation Lab is a home to creators of all fields and backgrounds where they have access to tools like 3D printing and can put their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) skills to use,” Puli said.

AJ started small but transformed into a full-scale operation with hard work and determination.

“Asha-Jyothi was founded on one main principle: helping children and families in need,”  Puli said. “With the help of a few initial donors, AJ started off as a small non-profit intent on raising funds through a 5K.”

Volunteers are dedicated to this cause, constantly finding new ways to advertise and meet with other volunteers.

“Our core group is familiar with the ins and outs of AJ,” Puli said. “We are always open to teaching new volunteers how to get involved.”

With each passing year, every annual run at Fairfax Corner has gained more participants. This year marked the run’s 10th anniversary, and many Chantilly students and staff members came out to support the organization. The volunteers reached out to the local community to raise awareness about the cause and get more people to register for the run.

“This year was by far my favorite because I had a larger role on stage,” junior and AJ volunteer Akshay Ganta said. “I also helped get people to register in school.”

The core volunteers were especially excited for this year and the many special elements they included to celebrate the 10th anniversary.

“This year’s theme was Red, and it was very special to me since 10 years has passed since the beginning of Asha-Jyothi,” junior and AJ volunteer Pranav Kode said. “I got all my friends to volunteer and celebrate this momentous occasion.”

In the last 10 years, AJ has brought light to the lives of many children in India and America alike. The charity has stayed true to its principle of improving education for kids by promoting innovation around the community and world.