Harsha waits eagerly for Diwali. His father isn’t going to buy him new clothes or any gift; he cannot afford it. So why is Diwali so special to him? Because “woh aate hai. Chocolate, cake, khiloney, school ki cheezey aur patakey detey hai, (They bring eatables, toys and things I can use at school),” he says. After a long pause he adds, “I take the crackers home and burst them along with my parents.”
The “Woh (they)” Harsha, is referring to are the Rotaractors of Vapi Riverside and KBS College. For the last three years these youngsters have been visiting eight schools on the outskirts of Vapi and distributing 650 education kits, along with food and crackers. “Some of the students here are so poor that they fill up their pockets with the food given to them and take it home for their parents,” says Rekhaben, a teacher at Sintadav Government Primary School, Valvada. She adds that the children eagerly wait for the Rotaractors because they bring with them the things the students’ parents cannot dream of buying them in the whole year.”
I have no words to describe how the children embraced us upon arriving at the school.
— Rotaractor Sophiya
The kit includes a pencil box, eraser, sharpener, crayons, notebooks, cake, chocolates, crackers and a diya. “I have no words to describe how the children embraced us as soon as we arrived at the school,” says Sophiya, a Rotaractor from KBS College. She added, “this is my first year in Rotaract and I can’t wait to make more of such wonderful memories.”
Deepak Tiwari, President of the Rotaract Club of Vapi Riverside, explains that during their annual event Arpan, they reach out to the affluent families in Vapi. “Many of them come forward to donate new clothes and other basic necessities for the poor and needy. We talk to them and collect donations for the school children.” The Rotaractors also pool in their contribution and buy the kits.
“We hope we can increase the number of kits next year. When we visited these schools for the first time the children had the most wonderful smile on their faces; that’s how the project got its name — One Child One Smile,” adds Tiwari.