At an age where children are busy spending their spare time in fun activities, six 11-year-olds have started an NGO to help underprivileged children. SHIKHA JAIN finds more about them
We have all learnt about different kinds of social services back in school but never thought of taking them ahead. Being inspired by the concept of Non-Profit Organisation in standard II, a bevy of girls (Avantika Swali, Samara Sujan, Ria Shah, Kavyaa Shah, Zayee Ajmera, and Naisha Dalal) from the Bombay International School (BIS), who knew each other from their childhood thought of starting one – a NGO that is. With the help of their parents, they not only gave a life to their idea but also discovered a school in Dharavi, started by the Art of Living Foundation where children are taught with love and enthusiasm.
“The idea was driven by a topic learnt in grade II in BIS. The kids had gone on a field trip to the Blind School at Worli. The experience touched their hearts so much so, that Avantika came home and said, ‘I am starting my own NGO, and going to call it All Care for Everyone (ACE).’ We all thought it’s just a phase, as standard II kids are so impressionable. But, the phase didn’t end. In fact, she shared the idea with her close friends and everyone was on board,” says Karishma Swali, mother of Avantika Swali, the founder of ACE. ACE, which was conceived in 2014, is now in its fourth year, and the girls are still as enthusiastic as they were back then
Raising funds creatively
They raise funds to support their NGO through a sale of baked goodies, such as cookies and cupcakes, beautiful accessories such as earrings, bracelets and necklaces, t-shirts for all age group and more. Most of the products they sell are handmade by them, and of course with help from their parents and support staff.
“So, our t-shirt designs are ready about a one month before the sale, because the t-shirts need to be made. And with the baking, some make cookies, some make cupcakes. Chocolate chip cookies and vanilla cookies are the popular ones and we have an oatmeal one, too. For cupcakes, we do the usual vanilla cupcakes,” says Naisha Dalal, another founder of ACE.
The girls usually try to have a sale (which happens once in every two months) on Monday or a day before they have a holiday, so they can work through the weekend. The place they host their sale at is a known place, so it becomes easy for others to drop by. All the sale proceeds go towards the education of underprivileged children at the Gift A Smile Foundation and The Dharavi School Foundation.
Lending a helping hand
The foundations require at least Rs 10,000 to educate one child, yearly. And the girls soon realised that they cannot educate one child at a time (some 340-odd children attend The Dharavi School, in Dharavi), and to make an impact they connected with a larger organisation.
“Since our inception in 2014, we educated two children, 2015, we helped four children and in 2016, we have educated 10 children and in 2017, we helped 25 children and our goal for 2018, is to educate at least 35 children,” says Kavyaa Shah, another founder of the NGO. The two foundations also offer various donation schemes and programmes where the donors can meet and see the child they sponsor and other projects like sponsor school buses, computer education, help with kindergarten schools and a lot more.
Zayee Ajmera, another founder of ACE feels privileged to help the underprivileged. “We started ACE with a hope to educate underprivileged children and we feel happy at being able to make a difference. We would like to do more,” says Ria Shah, another founder of ACE. The aim of ACE is to help every child ACE the exam of life were the words by Samara Sujan, one of the founders