Bengaluru: Not many school-going kids would bother to share anything, let alone their pencils and pens or other colourful stationery and even discarded school bags with their peers, let alone the under-privileged.
Most kids are too obsessed with flashing their possessions, both in and out of the classroom. But 13-year-old Nikhiya Shamsher of Greenwood High School in the city is no ordinary young girl. How is she different? Not only does her heart beat for the needy, she's done something about it.
Nikhiya has been collecting used or reusable bags, discarded books, pens and pencil and other school related materials and has been giving it away to students who cannot afford to buy any of this.
And in keeping with being a denizen of the IT capital, this teen has opened a website called Bags, Books and Blessings.com, as an initiative for her project to get more study materials for the less-privileged.
“They deserve to study and be as happy and as excited about entering schools as much as we are. For that I encouraged my friends and schoolmates to donate their bags, books and school supplies so that many more children like my maid's daughter Roja would be fully equipped to go to school,” says the 13-year-old, elated at the way her initiative has taken off.
Shamsher’s project was inspired by her maid's daughter, Roja. She had given Roja, a fourth grade student of a local government school, her school bag. Overjoyed, “Roja wrote a thank you note to me saying that she had never owned a school bag and that it was her first bag, otherwise she would carry her books and pencils in a plastic bag. I was so moved by her note, I made it a point to do the same thing for many other children who are not as lucky as we are,” Nikhiya said.
This small act of charity made Roja more confident and enthusiastic to attend school. And that's how Shamsher's Bags, Books and Blessings project was born.
Her plan of action was simple. She sought permission from her school Principal D'Mello who was not only supportive, but also gave her valuable advice on carrying out the project. "I wanted to start with the students from class 1 to 5, as at this age the children outgrow things faster, especially the uniforms and shoes. It would mean there would be a lot of donations coming from kids in this age group", she added. She designed posters and put them up on every corner of the school.
Her target audience being small kids, who probably might forget to inform their parents, she urged the Principal to send e-mails to the parents about the donation. In her free time, she and her friends took turns visiting the classrooms to ensure all the kids and the teachers were well aware of the project.
Within weeks, she was snowed under, collecting more than 2,500 textbooks, 150 schoolbags, over 400 pairs of shoes, 300 compass boxes, 270 water bottles, 100 lunch boxes and notebooks, 75 colour boxes and crayons, 6 bags full of jackets, and two bags full of stationary items like pencils, erasers and sharpeners from just five grades in their school.
Donated to the kids of Parikrma Centre for Learning, and Angels Orphanage, her plans don't end just here. “I want to open my own NGO and set up Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics laboratories in schools which are deprived of such facilities. But for that we need to collect funds and set up the organisation first" she said. And yes, she's only thirteen....