At that time, we had about 15 people in our group and none of us had any clue of how and where to start with. We chose 'promoting education' as our goal which we thought would be an appropriate choice considering our age and financial background (all of us were students).
We started by gifting children exercise books and textbooks by saving money from our pockets. But soon we realized, that even though our efforts got a lot of appreciation, the net result of only gifting these to children is almost negligible as they come from backgrounds where most of them are first generation learners and have got no-one to guide them.
Instead of handing over books to particular children from various places, we started building libraries in under-developed schools. Till date we have built libraries in 4 schools by collecting old books and buying certain textbooks after consulting the school authorities. In one of these schools, we provided all the required equipment for their physical science and biology laboratories. At present, we also conduct regular tuition classes at 3 places in Kolkata where nearly 80 children from slums and orphanages come to study.
We visited a school in Nagrakata, North Bengal last year where all the students of the school come from tribal communities. Most of their parents work in tea-garden and don't have a steady income. Although the school has got very minimal fees (less than Rs 150 in a year), during winter the students couldn't attend school as they couldn't afford to buy sweaters. This December we went there and besides gifting books for their school library, we gifted each of the students with exercise books and stationery kits and a sweater.
In the next 1 year, we have plans of building libraries and laboratories in 10 rural schools where an approximate total of nearly 4500 students come to study.
We plan to spend around 15 - 20 thousand rupees on new books and collect around 300 old books including storybooks. To build laboratories, it takes around 45 thousand rupees for biology, physics and chemistry equipment.
For more insight about our work, visit our website www.ngopanacea.org.