Three high school seniors in metropolitan Atlanta are creating change globally through their foundation that addresses healthcare needs of young women
By: Suzanne Dent with photos from Mimi Su
When you ask a high school senior what she's into these days, you expect her to say TikTok or K-Pop. You don't expect her to tell you how she and two friends created a foundation that helps women around the world feel safe and secure by providing healthcare information and products.
But that is exactly the story you hear when you chat with Mimi Su, a senior at Alpharetta High School. She and friends Pooja Kandikuppa and Shivaani Komanduri are the co-founders of the Women's Health Awareness Foundation, which seeks to address a variety of healthcare needs of women globally.
When they were juniors, the three young women heard about Giving Point, an Atlanta organization that teaches teenagers about social entrepreneurship and introduces them to the tools they can use to create change in the world.
"The biggest thing was the confidence Giving Point gave us," Mimi says. "They kept emphasizing that we should have passion for the projects that truly inspire us."
Pooja and Shivaani have family in India and understand firsthand some of the healthcare challenges women face there, including a stigma about puberty and feminine hygiene. The fledgling social entrepreneurs had found their passion. They used the Giving Point training to start their foundation and presented their plan at a Giving Point summit.
"I'm proud to say that we were the only ones out of 15 groups to be awarded a $500 grant after the presentation," Mimi says.
Not only was their nonprofit validated, they now had their seed money. Digital fundraisers followed, and the foundation went to work providing toiletries and other essentials at hospitals and domestic violence shelters in metro Atlanta.
With these local drives successfully behind them, the founders have returned to their original goal of helping young women around the world. The foundation is working with another charity in India to provide information pamphlets and feminine hygiene products to 200 elementary-age girls in India.
"This is a big deal because it will be the first time we've seen our goal come true," Mimi says.
The three social entrepreneurs are now raising funds for charities in Africa to help provide basic healthcare in several communities. The long-term goal is to find more international organizations to work with.
"Learning about different cultures made me realize there's a lot in the world I don't know, and there are a lot of things I want to learn," says Mimi.