While most school children in the city are preparing for exams or Diwali holidays, students of Sacred Heart School, Kalyan are busy collecting money for the victims of the recent earthquake in Sikkim.
"The school launched the 'Operation One India' campaign where we collected Rs 16.5 lakh, with which we have bought 3,000 good quality blankets," said Rajendra Jadhav, creative head of the school. The school believes that these blankets will be of immense help to the victims as Sikkim faces severe winters.
The earthquake, which measured 6.8 on the richter scale, occurred on September 18 killing more than a 100 people in Sikkim and Nepal.
"We are working in collaboration with footballer Baichung Bhutia who has promised to ensure the blankets reach those in the area which was the epicentre of the quake. The idea of the campaign was to inculcate a feeling of oneness in students as the northeastern states are usually neglected," added Jadhav.
Class 10 students, twins Mark and Moses Cheyaden, and their two elder brothers, who are ex-students of the school, collected Rs55,000 for the cause in the last tswo weeks. "Every student had to collect at least Rs 600, with a minimum donation of Rs 50. We went to local MLAs and corporators who readily gave us donations rather than going to individual houses, where most residents slammed their door on our face," said Mark, 14.
The students of Sacred Heart are not the only ones who are reaching out to those in need. Greenline, an environment forum of the Don Bosco Development Society has tied up with the Archdiocesan Value Education Centre (AVEC), in order to start a project called AID Sikkim 6.8. The two organisations have contacted over 150 city schools, urging them to donate money or everyday items to the victims of the quake.
"We told the students to go green this Diwali, by refraining from buying firecrackers. Instead, the children can use this money to aid the project," said Father Savio Silveira, director of Greenline.
Using 6.8 (the magnitude of the earthquake on the richter scale) as a symbol to represent the cause, students have started collecting money in figures such as 68, 680, 6800 and so on. They have also collected blankets and other basic supplies that might be useful for those whose homes need to be rehabilitated.
Greenline and AVEC have received enthusiastic responses from students of Dominic Savio School, Andheri, Sacred Heart School, Vashi and St Joseph's School in Wadala. "Many are also approaching us by themselves in order to find out where they can send the money and to what use it will be put," added Silveira.