Rubina, 23, a nursing student, can't wait to get her first salary. No, she doesn't want to shop, dine or go holidaying, but to donate her first earnings to the Leprosy Patients' Children Education Fund (LPCEF).
"My father is affected by leprosy; it is a struggle to make ends meet. On top of that, I was a girl from a Muslim family. Had it not been for the LPCEF, my life would have been very different. I also want to contribute to this initiative, so that it can help many more children like me," says Rubina (who goes only by her first name).
Like Rubina, Dipali Barman a Class 10 student, Furqan Alam who is pursuing his MBA, and Shrikant Behera who studies MCA - all of who had come to attend an annual fete organised every second Saturday of February each year - are among the 151 children who have benefited from this fund.
In 1974, the Cathedral Church of the Redemption located in Church Lane near Rashtrapati Bhavan started this fund to help educate children from financially weak background besides those who have been affected by leprosy. "We generally adopt these children in their formative years and take care of their education till they become financially independent. We started with 34 children. Most of them are from in and around Anandgram, Tahirpur, where a lot of leprosy patients are found. This is an attempt of the church to help give a better life to those affected by the disease," said Francis, (who also goes by only one name), honorary correspondent of the initiative.
"Besides funds we collect every year through the fete, we depend on donations from various members of the church that helps us run the initiative successfully. Last year, we collected R39 lakh, this year we aim to reach R50 lakh," said Kamlesh Jacob, convener of the fete.
Pledging her support for the initiative, chief minister Sheila Dikshit who was present at the fete said, "We are a caring government and will be very happy to support such a noble cause."
Hundreds who gathered for the fete, besides supporting the noble cause, also enjoy the festive atmosphere. From savouring lip-smacking food from various regions of the country, to shopping for clothes and utensils to playing games, the fete offers all. "I and my family look forward to the fete every year," said Nandini Patnaik, an HR executive and a church member.