India inspired a passion for community development work in Hayley Bolding, one of four young Victorians shortlisted for the state section of the Young Australian of the Year Award.
Bolding, now 30, was just 23 and working as an intern with a not-for-profit organisation in the Indian city of Mumbai, when she saw an urgent need for capacity building across similar bodies. She founded Atma – which means 'soul' in the Hindi language – to support local groups in their efforts to give children a better chance at life through education.
Working on her laptop at a local café in India's financial capital, Hayley raised funds and established partnerships that have helped thousands of children and young adults to complete their schooling, and access health and nutrition programs. The organisation also established a kindergarten and skills centre in Dharavi – notorious as one of the world's largest slums. Hayley’s business acumen has expanded Atma, which has partnered with 15 organisations which combined, impact the lives of over 11,000 students. Six years on, Hayley is a well-respected leader in her field in India, while also working tirelessly to mentor others and raise awareness in Australia.
"I am incredibly humbled and excited that Atma’s work has been recognised. I would like to thank my community in Lakes Entrance for their support, as well as all of the Australian and Indian friends who have supported our work and Atma’s vision to bring quality education to underprivileged children in India," Bolding said.
Hayley joined the Australia India Institute last month as a special projects officer. Nominees for the Young Australian of the Year award were announced today and the state winner will be announced on November 22nd.
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH HAYLEY BOLDING PLEASE CONTACT: Alexandra Hansen 0423 951 135