It’s always inspiring to see teenagers show sensitivity and a sense of social responsibility. Here’s how an 8th grader in Bengaluru shows the way to other school children.
Part of the excitement of moving to a higher grade in school every year is buying new books, bags, water bottles and other supplies. Or so it is, for some privileged children at least. Many others make do with what they already have, struggling to just about buy the bare necessities like books and uniforms.
When 13-year-old Nikhiya Shamsher, a student of Greenwood High School, Bangalore, donated her school bag to her housemaid’s daughter, she received a thank you note in return. This note, written by Roja, a 4th grade student, inspired Nikhiya to look at the world differently.
Roja, whose happiness on receiving the bag knew no bounds, wrote in her note that up until now, she had never owned a school bag. She had always carried her books and stationary in a poly bag.
Roja’s joy gave Nikhiya both a new vision and mission. The ripple effects of that one donation have changed her life and those of many other students, both privileged and underprivileged, in beautiful ways.
“This incident got me thinking that there would be many more people like her [Roja], and my friends and I should donate our bags to them. So I called some of my friends and together we donated some of our bags and books to people who needed them. After this, I thought, why not include my entire school in this,” says Nikhiya.
And this is how the project Bags, Books and Blessings came into existence. Nikhiya’s school principal, Mr. D’Mello, helped her get started by sending out emails to parents, allowing her to put posters around her school, and by writing to different organizations to help spread the word. All her teachers were very supportive as well.
“By the end of the year I had collected many many bags and books. I think there were around 2,500 books, about 150 bags, water bottles, a lot of stationery and stuff like that”, says Nikhiya exultantly.
She made sure that each donated item was carefully checked to ensure a good condition; everything was counted, cleaned, arranged in packets, and was finally ready to go. Out went Nikhiya with some of her best friends and volunteers to spread joy in a school and an orphanage in Bangalore.
Her day concluded with joy on the faces of the kids receiving books, bags, blessings, and more – it was a day full of smiles, fun and even some exciting magic shows.
According to her website dedicated to this project, “Bags, Books and Blessings aims to collect re-usable bags, books and school supplies and donate them to less privileged school children. Every year thousands of needy children go back to school without basic supplies. It is natural as their parents struggle to even put food on the table. But together we can change this. We can pool our re-usable school stuff and donate them to needy children. It will give them the much needed equipment and the confidence to go to school.”
What would be the next logical step for a project such as this? Says Nikhiya – “I am trying to include other schools by encouraging them to participate in the project. I am also trying to expand this in a way that I am able to create chemistry, physics and biology labs in schools that don’t have them.”
“I am entering my 8th grade. I just finished my 7th grade exam.” During my conversation with her, before I knew how old she is, this sentence came as a wonderful surprise. Thinking back, I do not remember myself worrying about the world at all when I entered my teens. Nikhiya, who at such a young age also wants to start her own NGO, is an inspiration to say the least. She has a world of opportunities before her, and she plans to utilize them in the best possible way.
“I am kind of trying to make a better India”, she concluded with a smile.
For this, and all her upcoming endeavours, we congratulate Nikhiya and wish her the very best.