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26.09.2017

Srishti Bakshi isn’t a professional athlete, nor does she think of herself as a social activist. What she does believe is that one small step can make a difference. And many small steps - walked over 3,800 kms to be precise - can do much more. With this in mind, corporate worker bee Srishti has begun her walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, to help empower women and raise awareness about women's safety through an enterprise called Arrow By Crossbow.

We speak to the 30-year-old as she rounds up her day 5 walk in Tirunelveli, TN. "When I moved to Hong Kong to work at an FMCG company, I couldn’t stop thinking about news stories from back home about the eroding public safety for women,” says Srishti. She didn’t think there was enough being done about the problem, so decided to walk across national highways to get your attention.

What she does believe is that one small step can make a difference. And many small steps - walked over 3,800 kms to be precise - can do much more. 

It took a year of planning, beginning in October 2016. Srishti applied to the United Nations’ campaign, ‘Champion For Change’ and her selection led to several collaborations with experts in the field of social enterprise.

The Cowherd & Her Calves 

Besides building killer calves, Srishti also wants her walk to positively impact the villages and towns she passes through. And so she's forged corporate partnerships, including one with Google's Internet Saathi forum, allowing her to conduct digital literacy workshops for women every five days across 106 villages and 52 towns. Workshops will also include sessions on hygiene, safety, basic law and infrastructure and a final collective mural painting.

Besides building killer calves, Srishti also wants her walk to positively impact the villages and towns she passes through

The journey has just begun, but Srishti has already encountered stories will stick with her for a long time. "I met Sheena in Kanyakumari, who started a tailoring business when her marriage fell apart. She used WhatsApp to build her network and two years later, she is about to open her first retail store in Tirunelveli." Great conversation thread. 


Even Do Gooders Need An Entourage

During her walks - no planes, trains or cars are used - Srishti already feels like a celebrity, with locals asking to take selfies and several motorists nearly swerving off the road (they're working on that) in an attempt to get a glimpse at the Crossbow convoy. Srishti’s team of twelve includes a photographer, nutritionist, social media managers, a moving travel desk to plot the map for her next few miles and a makeshift food truck to feed the crew. Police officials, highway patrol teams and enthusiastic locals tag along on occasion.

The Crossbow crew has over 200 days of walking left, so you can join in too. If you have relevant skills to bring to the table, even better. Lazy bums, chip in by contributing to Srishti’s crowd-funded campaign. And on this modern version of the Dandi March, you can also follow her on social media, minus the sweat and sunburn.

Getting there: To contribute or join her on her trail download the app here. Follow Srishti on Instagram for regular updates here.

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