India Recap- A Friend From Afar

India Recap- A Friend From Afar

Posted by : Cici Pandol   /  



Meet Alok! A 14 year old boy from the slums of Kalwa, India. He’s skilled in front-flips, envy worthy breakdance moves and is the newest member of Sundara’s Kalwa soap workshop!

We met Alok when we traveled to India in May to check out our partner Sundara’s new workshop. It was a sweltering 98 degrees outside and far more humid than what our team in Northern VA is used to.

Our CEO was prepping for some video interviews on the third day so I took the time to explore the slums for myself. I set off to capture the vivid colors that painted the city, accompanied only by my camera.. or so I thought.

Alok with SoapBox's graphic designer, Jason Rosen

I took a break from snapping photos and noticed a kid following me around. A curious Alok, who is in grade 9, peppered me with question about what I was doing and why I wanted to take so many photos of his hometown.

I never really understood the caste system until that day. All of the people from the slums were in awe of the attention they received from the snap of my camera. As soon as I would take a photo their faces would light up with smiles reaching ear to ear. Nobody had paid them attention like that before. As we continued to chat and walk, this boy turned into my personal tour guide of the slums.

Alok with SoapBox’s graphic designer, Jason Rosen


Alok with a SoapBox shirt


Alok would organize other kids for pictures and translate for me. As the day began to wind down I told the people I photographed that I would have the pictures printed for them to keep.

 Alok with a SoapBox shirt 

After we had returned home a Sundara team member reached out and let me know that had been Alok hanging around the Sundara workshop waiting for the day the pictures would be ready. He became a familiar face to the employees of Sundara his involvement with them grew as well.

Alok with his picture of him and our graphic designer,  Jason Rosen.

Alok with his picture of him and our graphic designer, Jason Rosen.


Through all of this, Alok is now one of the newest members of the Sundara team in India! He helps gather the local kids when Sundara needs them and works with them to guide visitors and reporters from the train station. He also helps with setting up photos and videos just as he did with me during my time in Kalwa.

Keep an eye out on your Hope Code to see if your purchase is going to the workshop where Alok is working!

-Jason Rosen, SoapBox Graphic Designer

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