Student philanthropist to donate funds from photography exhibition

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MANCHESTER — Philanthropy and photography seems to be the perfect combination for Burr and Burton Academy senior Aashna Kinkhabwala, whose photography exhibit "Peace, Love, Create," will premiere at The Gallery at Equinox Village on Friday.

Kinkhabwala, who will attend Northeastern University in the fall, received her first camera when she was 7 and has donated the funds from her creative endeavors for almost as long.

"It was actually my grandfather who got me interested in photography, and bought me my first camera," said Kinkhabwala. "I love to travel and do anything related to photography."

Kinkhabwala has traveled extensively for her age, visiting Costa Rica, Morocco, and Cuba through academic programs. Having traveled with her family frequently, she has also visited India on multiple occasions to visit family members. The photos in Kinkhabwala's upcoming exhibit are all relics of her travels to India.

"The photos are from four different places in India that I've been to," said Kinkhabwala. "I thought that was appropriate as I'm raising money for a school in India."

All of the proceeds from the "Peace, Love, Create" exhibit will benefit a school for disabled students in Ahmedabad, India known as Apang Manav Mandal.

"We went back to India one year and my uncle, knowing that I liked this kind of thing, brought me to the school to volunteer," said Kinkhabwala. "Since then it's been something that I like doing."

Throughout her creative career Kinkhabwala has made philanthropy a top priority, donating at least 25 percent of her proceeds from the work that she's sold. Upon entering seventh grade, the young photographer decided to begin her own non-profit organization under the moniker "Peace, Love, Create," to streamline her contributions.

"Ever since I started selling my work I've always wanted to donate some of the proceeds," said Kinkhabwala. "It started with charities in the U.S. like Make a Wish, Special Olympics, and the World Wildlife Fund."

After visiting the Apang Manav Mandal school, Kinkhabwala decided to concentrate her charitable work in the interest of the institution.

"This school teaches the children a skill they can use to support themselves so they can lead the independent life that they wouldn't have otherwise been able to," said Kinkhabwala.

Kinkhabwala hopes to raise at least $1,000 through the exhibition, which will run at The Gallery at Equinox Village from May 19 through June 8.

Though the exhibition is temporary, Kinkhabwala has no intention of discontinuing her artistic and charitable passions.

"It's my own thing, so I'll always be doing something with it," said Kinkhabwala. "It's kind of who I am, and I like doing this."

The student hopes that by attending, community members will be able to learn something new and hopefully feel compelled to support her cause.

"For this exhibition, it's a nice way for other people to get involved as well," said Kinkhabwala. "They're looking at these different photos and learning about another culture, and hopefully buying them to help this school."

Prior to the opening of the exhibition Friday, Kinkhabwala will give a presentation on Apang Manav Mandal and their humanitarian work starting at 5 p.m.

The Gallery at Equinox Village is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (802) 362-4061.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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