July 4, 2021 5:18:15 pm
Some weeks ago, when India was braving the second wave of the Covid infection, two girls from Delhi-NCR were busy raising funds for relief efforts. Geetika Jain and Miheeka Bagla, two friends from a South Delhi school sprung into action after consulting with their parents, and decided to do their bit for the society. The girls — both studying in class 9 — held workshops for younger kids (five to 10-year-olds) and taught them art and craft, and cooking.
Between May and June, Geetika and Miheeka conducted 10 such classes, charging a modest fee of Rs 300 per class. At the end of it, they had managed to raise Rs 50,000, which they donated entirely to Shakti Foundation India, for its Covid response fundraiser called Help India Breathe Again.
Totally charged and ready to have another round of fundraising, the girls chatted with Express Parenting recently, and talked about their experience.
Why did you think it was important to participate in the Covid relief efforts?
Geetika: During the lockdown, I kept hearing about how people were suffering and saw my parents doing their best to help friends and strangers. This inspired me to do something about it even if it was a small gesture.
Miheeka: Since the very beginning, I have been taught that every gesture, no matter how small, helps. I wanted to contribute my little seed of hope to bloom happiness.
Whose idea was it to conduct workshops on cooking and craft? What got you interested in these activities?
Geetika: I have always been passionate about crafts and cooking. I love watching videos and trying out new things. Miheeka and I often did art and craft together on Zoom during the lockdown. In one of these sessions, we thought of conducting workshops for younger kids.
Miheeka: I personally enjoy cooking and crafting. In my spare time, I like to experiment with new techniques and recipes. During the summer vacations, I had fun sessions on Zoom with my friends and all of us looked forward to it. It was then that it struck us, to put our talents to good use and raise funds.
What kind of preparations did you do before the workshops?
Geetika: Since we had never done workshops before, we prepared by trying different types of crafts beforehand and seeing which would be unique yet simple enough for younger kids. Also, we did a few mock workshops to make our delivery and presentation style easy for kids to understand. A big part of the preparation was getting the coordination right between us.
Miheeka: Preparations took long and we spent innumerable hours. We had to prepare the pamphlet, the ingredients list, and recipes if it was a cooking workshop; craft templates, step-by-step presentations and materials required if it was a craft workshop. We also tried to find unique things to teach with simple materials available at home as it would be difficult for people to buy items in lockdown. For example, we taught how to make cheese cookies and self-blooming paper flowers.
Did raising so much money give you a sense of gratitude? Would you like to do it again?
Geetika: A big motivator for doing these workshops was that I would actually be doing something to help people in these difficult times. I feel really grateful that I got the chance to contribute to society while doing something that was my passion. We are working towards bringing a new series of exciting workshops and supporting a cause close to our hearts.
Miheeka: Donating the money filled me with a sense of happiness and accomplishment. It made me feel that I could help others in times of need. It was a wonderful experience, and I would love to do it again, though I really hope the pandemic is over soon and it would be for another great cause.
What role did your parents play in helping you achieve this?
Geetika: Our parents were very supportive. They encouraged us in the beginning, helped us at every step of the way, whether it was advertising on their WhatsApp groups, collecting the fees, or being the ‘cameraman’ for our numerous workshops. They were the guinea pigs for our cooking experiments.
Miheeka: Not only my parents, but also my elder sister, and my entire family was a constant support throughout. They helped me brainstorm ideas, organise the classes and also communicate with the participants. They took care of all the registrations and handled Zoom, including setting my camera angle while I showed something. They helped me conduct the sessions smoothly and take feedback for our next session.
Was there ever a hesitation or apprehension about whether the workshops would be successful?
Geetika: When we first thought of this idea, I was excited but a little nervous, as neither of us had any prior experience. But the motivation to do something pushed us to go way out of our comfort zones. We were unsure if anyone would sign up, but the response got better and better as we went along. Before we knew it, we had done a series of 10 workshops during the summer break.
Miheeka: At first, I felt quite hesitant if we would be able to pull off the workshops successfully. Thoughts like, ‘Will I be able to explain the participants properly?’, ‘Will my internet connection be strong enough?’, and ‘Will people even register?’ crossed my mind. Originally, we had only planned one workshop and in the first two days of sending out the pamphlets, very few registrations came. But then, just one day before the workshop, we got an overwhelming response and we had to split it into two batches! Gradually, the registrations increased and people requested for more workshops.
What do your school friends and teachers think about it?
Geetika: Our teachers and friends have been very encouraging and supportive. Some of our teachers also joined and were generous with their praise. They were proud of us and even said they would like us to take a craft session in school once it reopens.
Miheeka: Our friends and teachers were appreciative throughout the process. They joined our workshops to support us in our endeavour and take a peek into the sessions. They were all impressed with our clarity and professionalism.
Any thoughts on why you think children should do their bit in helping the country fight this pandemic?
Geetika: I truly believe every little bit helps at a time like this. The satisfaction of knowing that we might have made things just a little bit better for someone is a feeling like no other. Also, I think maybe if children step forward to help, it will inspire all the adults to be more generous and giving.
Miheeka: Earlier, I used to think we are just children, what can we do? We do not have any money, how can we help? But, when I think about it now, there is always some way that comes through — ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ The online platform offers us great opportunities, which we would have probably not been able to execute optimally in real life. If citizens at a young age desire to work for the betterment of their society, there is no denying a bright future for the country.
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