THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Three years. 150 trips. 1,435 women travellers. Bitten by the wanderlust bug, these women have been travelling and experiencing the true spirit of adventure through 'Appooppanthaadi', an all-women travel group started by Sajna Ali, a techie-turned-traveller. And now, Appooppanthaadi is gifting 'travel' through 'Prayaana', a travel fellowship of around `4,500 which offers a platform for women to travel and experience the world!
As many as five women will be given the fellowship and can travel to one destination in South India, with all the expenses being taken care of by Appooppanthaadi. The solo two-day travel will let the women travel to any of the five destinations in South India viz. Dhanushkodi, Gokarna, Hampi, Nelliyampathy and Pondicherry. “Any women with a desire to travel can apply for the fellowship. The idea is to offer a platform which will let the women travel, with all expenses taken care of. The preference is for women who don't have the economic capacity to travel. It is all about budget travelling and after the journey, they will have to upload a vlog," says Sajna.
The travel dates will be in the month of April and the fellowship is open to women across India. Kids below the age of 5 years are allowed to travel in the fellowship along with their mothers. Prayaana was launched on February 21, on the first death anniversary of Sajna's father Ali Koya. “It is the worst day of my life. Prayaana is very special to me. And I was trying to make the day a little brighter by launching Prayaana,” says Sajna. “For the past three years, Appooppanthaadi has been taking women across the country. I have come across women who ardently wish to travel but are limited by the monetary aspect. Prayaana is for them,” says Sajna.
It was the pictures that her father always showed her, of the places he travelled, when he was working as a lorry driver that inspired her to travel. “The subject was always the lorry, but the magnificent landscapes that formed the backdrops would always enthral me. He would talk about the places he has been to, the people he met, the culture and the traditions of the land. All I wanted was to visit these places. So, after I started working, I decided to travel. And that was the start,” Sajna recalls. Seeing her solo journeys, a lot of women started requesting Sajna to take them also along in the trips. And soon, Appooppanthaadi was formed.
“I actually wanted to give the fellowship for ten women. But mobilising fund was difficult and I couldn't get any sponsors as well. This is just the start and soon more and more fellowships will be given under Prayaana. "The dream is to have more women travel to more destinations through the fellowship,” says Sajna who believes that travelling changes you, in ways nothing can! “My inspiration for doing this is the change I see in the women I travel with. Travelling changes you, and changes your life. I am not going to let any women sit idle at home. Mind you, they are all going to travel the world,” she says.