Denise Castañon, editor at “PDX Parent”, was one of the first from the media to approach me for information on my Kid Governor election. She had three questions for me and I just had to write my answers and send it back. We are doing a ton of opinion writing and narratives at school so this one was pretty breezy for me. I just sat down after dinner and wrote my answers down. I figured my handwriting isn’t the best, :), so I had the answers typed up too.
- How did you feel when you found out you’d won the election?
I was very happy and surprised as I did not expect it to be this big. I also felt honored that I got such a great opportunity.
- What made you so passionate about ending homelessness?
I think it happened gradually, over the last year and half. At first, I was just learning to cook from my mom and made some YouTube Videos of my cooking. Then, around my school’s Jogathon fundraiser, instead of lemonade stands or cookie sales, I decided to raise money making dosas (Indian savory crepes). I even gave a name to my service, RFK- Raaga’s Fun Kitchen. Seeing how much I was enjoying cooking, my mom took me to a homeless shelter with an institution called Chetana Foundation- they cook and serve food to the homeless every Sunday. Before going there, I used to be really scared of such places. But it made me feel good to see how happy the people at the shelter were with our food. Later, my mom told me about JOIN and how they go beyond simply providing a meal and how they help transition the homeless into permanent housing. We even went and visited JOIN in Portland. Since then, I really felt connected to their mission. I have hosted four fundraisers for JOIN so far.
- Tell me a little more about the cooking fundraisers you’ve held to raise money for a homeless shelter? What did you cook, who else helped you? Where did you sell the food?
My parents are from South India and my mom is the one that taught me how to cook. So I mostly cook Indian food. I love making desserts like Carrot Laddu, Gulab Jamun, and Ras Malai. I have also made appetizers like samosas and vadas and sides like Dal Makhani and Butter Chicken. My parents help plan the menu and let their friends and coworkers know about it. My mom helps with grocery shopping and figuring out how much to cook. I research the recipes online. We have a kitchen in our backyard and that is where we cook. We don’t have any official license to cook in our kitchen. So we don’t publicly advertise our fundraisers and just invite friends. We had done fundraisers where people ate in our backyard. We also had lunch boxes to go that people came to pick up. My mom made a Facebook page too for RFK, you should check it out. 🙂
A few weeks later, one of my mom’s friends sent her a picture from her copy of PDX Parent magazine. It is so interesting to see my responses stitched together and made into a magazine article!