BENGALURU: Schoolchildren from the city prove age is no yardstick of volunteerism. Three girls celebrate special occasions with the less privileged, and have begun other social initiatives.
At 13, Nikhiya Shamsher, a student of Greenwood High School, is registering her own NGO, Women Have the Same Set of Teeth as Men, to promote women and child education. She wants to encourage women to take up science and maths, to teach the maths to the underprivileged whenever she is free.
“Aristotle said women have fewer teeth than men, which proved to be wrong. He always considered women inferior to men,” says Nikhiya, explaining the name of the NGO.
It all began when she donated her old school bags to her maid’s children. Her maid thanked her later, saying her daughter started going to school because she now had a school bag. Nikhiya also observed that children froms slums around her house worked, instead of going to school.
That motivated her to start Bags, Books and Blessings. She designed a few posters and put them up at school. With her principal’s help, she reached out to parents, asking them to donate bags, books and stationery for the underprivileged children at Parikrma Centre for Learning and Angels Orphanage.
She also raised around `4 lakh, and set up 12 science labs to make practical exams for Class 12 students hassle-free. “They had to travel far for practicals as their schools didn’t have labs. They also had to learn several experiments in a single day,” she says.
Anwesa Chaudhury, a Class 7 student at Vibgyor School, found her maid crying a few years ago because she couldn’t afford to send her son to school. Anwesa spoke to her parents and got them to sponsor his education.
She felt sorry at the plight of such children. Last April, she wrote Prime Minister Narendra Modi a letter, asking for equal education for all. To her surprise, he responded, appreciating her concern, and sent her a Panchatantra book.
She and nine of her classmates also celebrated last Christmas at Zion Foundation’s home for orphans. “Anwesa sang and her friends played the violin. The orphanage children also performed,” says her mother, Devyani Chaudhury. “I gifted them pens, crayons, blankets, books and chocolates,” says Anwesa.
Simone Sharma is studying in Class 5 at Jain Heritage School, where concern for social issues is considered part of the curriculum. She celebrated her 10th birthday at Amee House, a shelter with 37 rescued dogs. “The dogs ate the cake too. They wore birthday caps and partied with us. We also left a cheque for the shelter,” she recalls.
Simone cares for stray dogs in her neighbourhood. She frequently checks on them for signs of injury. If she finds any, she asks her mother to take the dog to a vet.
“Once, a stray was run over by a car, and lost a leg. The animal welfare associations we called tried to get hold of the dog for a month and failed,” says her mother, Ekta Sharma. “Simone and her brother managed it in a day. CUPA then got his leg amputated.”
Anwesa’s Letter to the PM
Dear Modiji, I am Anwesa Chaudhury, a student at Vibgyor High School. I request you to see that all children whether they are poor or rich, boy or girl, whether they are special need or not, get basic education (sic).
Dear Anwesa, I am moved by your concern towards the children belonging to the weaker sections of the society. I wish you the best for your bright future.