What began as a casual dinner table conversation between a 16-year-old boy and his parents soon turned into a weighty philanthropic discussion, wherein a quick decision had to made. Shaken by the Nepal earthquake, Shantanu Singhal, a Class XI student of Sanskriti School, on a sudden impulse, decided to help in his own little way. How, when, what was all secondary. What was important was that help must reach those who needed it urgently. So, even before he went to school the next day, he ascertained that his contribution would be made generous and urgent.
With the help of Ashu Gowswami of Namaste London and Tamara lounge, two lounges in London, an NGO by the name of MC Foundation was established. All the funds would be collected through this medium. Friends, family, acquaintances—everybody known to the boy and his family—recognised his effort and donated magnanimously. “The total amount raised was Rs 16 lakh. In fact, it was slightly more, but as soon as we raised that much, we immediately bought supplies and sent them off to Nepal,” says the lad, who decided to take Thulo Dhading, Gungtole and Jardeu villages under his wings. “We reached ground zero after several gruelling hours. What was fascinating was that even on wrecked routes, there were local adventure companies offering options for camping, trekking and bungee jumping. Despite such havoc, they still wanted to carry on with life and earn a living,” says Singhal whose journey came with many challenges—darkness enveloping the roads, abrupt turns, uncertainty of the future, and the need for security made the boy realise how fragile life is. It also made him aware of the importance of reaching out, and, therefore, regardless of all the setbacks, he continued to troop on. “When we finally reached, the villagers welcomed us with warm smiles and half-wilted flowers. It showed that they had been waiting for long. I’ll never forget that day,” he says adding, “Because it has taught me to value life and people part of it.”