A helping hand
Increasingly school students, are using their spare time to go beyond academics into areas like social work, to lend a helping hand to those less privileged.
‘Don't do good work to see results in your lifetime. Do it so that others get motivated. It may be just a drop in the ocean but even that makes a difference’, says Anushka Mandal, a class 11 student, from Kolkata who played Secret Santa to the underprivileged during one Christmas.
Anushka, student of a Kolkata school, says she helped 500 people who were living on the streets by distributing blankets to them during winters in 2012.
She claims to have raised a total of Rs 55,000 from friends and family to buy blankets. Organising volunteers into five teams Mandal says she went around the city on one cold, winter night and laid blankets on people sleeping on the pavements.
‘During winters, there were stories of people dying. I really wanted to do something for them. My mother, who has been in social work since her school days, told me to go to some key companies and some friends and ask them to donate. On December 27, I asked some people to come with me. We went in different directions of the city and laid blankets on the poor, sleeping on streets. It felt good,’ says Anushka.
Anushka says she moved by what she saw at a Chennai hospital when she was a ten years old and has continued to be motivated by that incident ever since.
‘I was diagnosed a diabetic when I was eight years old. I was really young and no specialised doctors were available in Kolkata then. We then decided to go to a hospital in Chennai.There I saw the doctors giving medicines and injections to diabetic children, who could not afford it. That motivated me to help the needy,’ says Anushka.
Anushka was among other school children who went to Washington recently to represent the country at the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.
Maneka, a class 12 student from Gurgaon aspires to become a social entrepreneur and deal with social issues.
‘I taught English in slum areas near my house. There I met a girl named Pooja, who told me how her family received only three litres of water a day. I thought of writing about her story and about the benefits of conserving water,’ says Maneka.
The school girl, who says she aims to become a social entrepreneur says she self-published her book titled Rohan On A Water Saving Spree.
Written in a narrative style the illustrated book targets children aged 5 to 11 and shares important and practical tips to save water within their homes.
While Maneka works towards conserving water, city-based boy Aakash Pawar strives hard to combat social evils like child marriage and child labour. A class eleven student Aakash Pawar has been teaching underprivileged children and conducting development programs for them for the past seven years.
‘In class four, I used to play with some underprivileged children near my house. Gradually I started noticing that out of them three girls were not sent to school and assigned household chores, while the boys went to school. When I was in class 6, I started persuading people to send their daughters to school,’ says Aakash.
Today with 20 members, his organisation, which receives funding from other NGOs and individuals uses simple, yet innovative methods to teach the children.
‘I make them play puzzles. Spell out different words together and use simple games like Name, Place, Animal and Thing to teach the children,’ says Aakash
‘We have two hands. One is for us, while the other is to help the needy.
Today, people are using their hand for their own prosperity but we should use both and make a difference to the society," says Aakash.