Reflection: Books Sorting for Project Mission Million Books

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One of our NGO partners, Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, has been a part of and initiated many great campaigns for: the disabled, for those in low-income communities, for those who were a part of natural disasters, for the innocent affected by terrorism, and for many more who are in an urgent need of help.

Last weekend the ConnectFor team had the pleasure to host a books and clothes sorting event for ‘Project Mission Million Books’ — one of many initiatives by Ratna Nidhi. This initiative aims to distribute 1 million educational books and distribute them across 10,000 educational institutions across Maharashtra to facilitate the education process for children from under resourced communities.

While India is developing, illiteracy remains high, in certain parts of the country. In spite of the fact that children from low-income communities are able to attend schools, their right to an education is hindered by their finances.

The ConnectFor team hosted an event on the 17th June, 2017 where 13 volunteers took out 3 hours from their Saturday morning to help the team sort books and clothes.

The day started off with an induction session by Amruta, from Ratna Nidhi, briefing volunteers on the activity, what the organization does and why they have taken up this initiative. Soon after, our volunteers were shown the area of the activity and got into sorting books right away. They were so engaged in the activity that they realized how fortunate they are/have been to be able to afford a high quality education. Volunteers that joined us were mainly high school students who related to the cause, and genuinely felt for the under privileged. A few others that attended, purely came out there for nostalgia, to go through these educational books and remember the times when they studied, and to help further pass the knowledge on to those who need it.

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A special volunteer, Khushi Vora, celebrated her birthday at the event, where she brought along a few friends to help her sort books. They looked like they were having a blast! Not everyone can say they spent their birthday volunteering for a special and good cause. We were so impressed by her gesture, that when NDTV approached us to feature our student volunteers as part of their Behtar India campaign, we immediately thought of Khushi. Along with her, several of Khushi’s friends plus a few other students were interviewed. The sincerity with which the volunteers responded to the interviewer from NDTV, made it very clear to Maniti and I, that these kids, knew exactly why they were here and what they were trying to achieve by joining us last weekend.

The task of the event was to segregate books and pile them up in cardboard boxes, with category names written on them. The kids and the others seemed to be enjoying the activity, where each and every volunteer took the initiative to work as a team. Maniti and I, were not only content that the volunteers were getting along, but also extremely appreciative that the volunteers could tackle issues with the sensibility that you wouldn’t expect high school students to have. There was a specific instance where books were over-flowing in the cardboard boxes, certain books didn’t fit into any category, and eventually there was a mess at the facility, leaving volunteers with no space to walk. While we convinced the volunteers that Ratna Nidhi would take care of the situation, a few volunteers in particular took the initiative to make categories on their own, create space to pile up more books from overflowing boxes and label them appropriately.

For the 2 hours that they did sort books, volunteers had managed to sort all the books that were previously messily placed into boxes and sorted them in neat piles. Since we had half an hour to spare before they all headed home, we engaged them in a clothes sorting activity where they had to fold clothes and neatly package them. This was a much needed activity as volunteers did seem a little tired post the book sorting and thus needed something a little more relaxing where they could engage in proper conversations with all the other volunteers and get to know them a little more on a personal level.

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