Mumbai boy 'just' Rs 8.9 lakh away from living Antartica dream

20-year old Kunal Sanklecha, an engineering student, who is the only one from Mumbai to be selected for a 10-day environmental expedition to Antarctica, is struggling to get sponsors for his trip

Kunal Sanklecha, 20, a chemical engineering student at Vile Parle’s DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering, has been selected along with 14 others from India to participate at the expedition. Pic/ Sameer Markande
Kunal Sanklecha, 20, a chemical engineering student at Vile Parle’s DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering, has been selected along with 14 others from India to participate at the expedition. Pic/ Sameer Markande

Twenty-year old Kunal Sanklecha, a chemical engineering student at Vile Parle’s DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering, is just one step away from living his dream to go on a 10-day environmental programme to Antarctica. The expedition is being led by noted environmentalist Robert Swan — the first person to walk both the south and north poles. While Sanklecha’s application for the ‘Leadership On The Edge’ programme has been selected, his next and penultimate challenge is to get sponsors for the same.

A dream in the making
“I have been trying to apply for this programme ever since I read an article about a student from Delhi, who was selected for the expedition three years ago,” says Kunal, who is extremely passionate about environmental causes.

He finally applied this year through Swan’s environmental foundation 2041, which is working towards preserving Antarctica by promoting newer means of sustainable energy. Sanklecha is the only person from Mumbai to be selected, among 14 others, who will be joining the expedition from India.

The expedition is scheduled to kick off in March 2017 from Buenos Aires, and will have around 100 handpicked people from across the globe participating in it. “In the last two years, there used to be an interview and selection procedure where candidates were selected based on their credibility, passion for environment, and cold weather experiences,” said the 20-year-old. However, since it’s the last expedition to be conducted by Swan, there was no selection criteria, and one could just apply on the organisation’s website. “I want to join the expedition to learn more about the latest sustainable technologies, discuss ideas and possible solutions to global warming and bring the lessons back home, so that they can be implemented in Mumbai,” he said. “I don’t want to miss out on the dream, which I have been chasing for the past three years.”

Monetary challenges
Sanklecha is currently trying to reach out to potential sponsors using a crowd-funding platform in an effort to try and raise approximately R9 lakhs for the expedition. As of today, the young Mumbaikar has only managed to raise R10,200 of the total fee. With the November 5 deadline looming closer, Sanklecha is pulling out all stops — from requests on social media to giving lectures at schools and colleges in exchange for monetary assistance — in order to tide over the shortage. “Small changes and actions by a large number of people can help improve our climatic situation to a great extent,” he said. “Our actions in Mumbai do impact faraway places like Antarctica, where ice caps are melting.”

You can contribute at www.ketto.org/fundraiser/MumbaiStudentOnAntarcticMission

Rs 9Lakh
The total cost of the programme, which comprises air tickets, travel insurance and visa, gear and expedition fee

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