Happy New Year 2019 to everyone reading this piece. I am writing after several months ; most of this time was spent in self introspection, travel and reading. I stepped into 2019 with hope thanks to a teenager who I have carried in my arms and never realized when time flew by and she transformed into a thoughtful young lady.
Sometime in December 2018 ; my 15 year old niece Ira who is a 9th grader in Stonehill International School in Bangalore came up with the idea of helping to rebuild a school library. This was a part of her project through 1M1B (1Million 1 Billion) initiative aligned with the UN Sustainability Development Goal. Her broader project area was on floods, causes, prevention and the aftermath of the devastation. While doing her research she came across a news paper article about a school library of a century old school in Chendamangalam, Kerala devastated by the floods.
DDSHS Karimpadam established in 1912 catered to English and Malayalam medium students from the age of 5 to 15 and was an established name in that area. Ira gathered the contact details of the school through net search and sent a mail to them expressing her desire to help. The school was more than eager to hear from a young student in Bangalore who wanted to come to their aid. She told her parents that she wanted to spend her Christmas and New Year break working on this project rather than take yet another comfortable holiday and they readily obliged.
Her parents encouraged her enthusiasm and Ira visited the school accompanied by her mother as soon as her Christmas vacations started. She interacted with the students, clicked pictures, and noted down their needs. She had to collect nearly 1700 books (1000 in English and 700 in Malayalam) as well as raise funds for reconstructing the library area. In conversation, she also realized that the older students could do better with some counselling and career guidance which she had the access to as a privileged international school pupil.
- She created a flyer that she circulated to friends, family and friends of friends for books that would be suitable for children in the age group of 5-15 and in a short span of time has managed to collect 750+ books which are now being sorted and categorized to be transported to the school
- She is working with a startup who have a socio-psychological assessment and well being app for general and career counselling of the students so that they could do a program in the school; https://nsmiles.com
- She is raising money to reconstruct the library along with an NGO Sahayog Foundation
In conversation, she mentioned that all the books that lie in our shelves gathering dust; could be used by someone somewhere to gain knowledge, laugh on a gloomy day or time travel to another land then it would have met its purpose.
When you are on the other side of 40 and someone years younger than you, who has grown up in front of you inspires you to get moving, to give back to the world from where you get; you know that it is time to fill yourself with hope; that the future is indeed in the right hands.
I toast 2019 to Ira and several ones like her in different parts of the world; who are trying to make a difference with their efforts and inspiring others around them. If you want to know more/ or donate books for the school or lend a helping hand please contact
Ira Ratnaparkhe : firstname.lastname@example.org