Pooja Veerareddy, 18, of Shreveport, Louisiana, a senior at Caddo Magnet High School, co-founded a nonprofit organization that has provided under-funded hospitals in the Indian state of Telangana with critical health-related supplies since 2017. For many years, Pooja’s grandmother had to travel between Telangana and the United States to receive treatment for renal cell carcinoma. “Following her passing, we became aware of a need for medical supplies in many government and other low-budget hospitals in the region,” said Pooja. “I personally felt it was important to give back to the community that my parents and family are from.” With help from her father and sister, Pooja created a charitable organization called the Vijaya Project, named after and in honor of her grandmother.
Pooja persuaded the CEO of a Louisiana hospital to partner with her family and donate medical supplies, such as catheters, coronary stents, coronary balloons, peripheral stents, arterial sheaths and angioplasty wires, for government and private hospitals in Telangana. She then wrote letters to hospital administrators in the state to obtain documentation to bring the items through Indian customs. Once her family had the donated supplies in hand, they spent weeks packing them into large suitcases that they could deliver, in person, to various hospitals. As of 2020, they had made three trips to India, transporting more than $86,000 worth of crucial supplies. “I was humbled to have been a small piece of the large picture that improved the services in their hospitals,” said Pooja.