Currently a junior at Lexington High School in Massachusetts, Sophia Ryterband, has launched a local chapter of the Anchal Project in her hometown. She is raising awareness in her community while exploring new venues to sell the artisan-made textiles created by the women in our program. One of our youngest and most dedicated advocates, Sophia started the Lexington High School Anchal project with a friend in September of 2014. She is the Co-Founder and President and has received school-wide support from the LHS National Honor Society.
When did you first hear of Anchal Project?
When I was 12, I began working on my mitzvah project. Young Jewish people undertake mitzvah projects as they enter adulthood to make a change in the world and help other people. I considered several options, but my ultimate choice was clear as soon as I learned about Anchal Project
What makes you want to support Anchal's mission?
I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in a caring family and a supportive community. Through my work with Anchal, I have become aware of the struggles and risks many young women and girls around the world face every day. The cycles of poverty, violence, abuse, and fear that these women face is very different from my own experience, however, I feel a responsibility to help in any way I can.
One of the most gratifying moments in my life occurred when I received a letter from an Anchal artisan thanking me for my sponsorship. She told me, that because of my donation, she was not only able to create a new life for herself, but also for her daughter. She shared that her experience with Anchal transformed her shame into pride, and her daughter was also proud of seeing her mother’s strength and her new career. My dream is for every girl to have love and have pride for their mothers. I have an obligation to be an advocate for exploited women everywhere, and working with Anchal is helping me reach this goal.
What opportunities have you had to spread the message about Anchal?
The Lexington High School Anchal Project exhibits Anchal textiles at craft fairs, holds school fundraisers, and works with local businesses including yoga studios and restaurants.
What is the most important thing you can tell someone about Anchal?
I tell them that Anchal is not just another non-profit organization that donates goods to the less fortunate; Anchal provides not only resources but also technical skills and training to women in desperate need. Through this program, women can be inspired to support themselves and their families as artisans. Additionally, prostitution and sexual exploitation are subjects that many do not like to discuss, but they are critically important issues that need to be addressed and dealt with proactively.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love music and performing. I am a member Lexington High School’s oldest all female a cappella group, Euphoria. Additionally, I am in a band called Sorry Honey’s, play guitar and write original songs. I also love to act, and I have been in many shows at my high school. Most recently, I had a blast playing Tinker Bell in my school’s production of the play, Peter/Wendy. In addition, I love being a member of my temple’s youth group, along with The National Federation of Temple Youth for the northeast region.
What do you hope to do after you graduate High School?
After high school, I plan to attend college and learn about women/gender issues and public policy. I am also interested in traveling abroad and possibly taking a gap year to do so. I dream to live in a city and simply be happy with whatever I’m doing. I also want to continue working with Anchal and hopefully become an intern!
Do you want to get involved with Anchal project? Fill out our volunteer form and let us know what you are interested in!