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 realised, that even though our efforts got a lot of appreciation from that time only, 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.
We started thinking of new projects, which would be more meaningful and beneficial. Being students ourselves, it is not possible to always devote time, but still we thought of activities which would involve teaching sessions or other interactive sessions where we can actually spend some time with the children, understand their problems and guide them accordingly. At present, we conduct regular tuition classes at 3 places in Kolkata where nearly 80 children from slums and orphanages come to study.
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 also provided all the required equipments for their physical science and biology laboratories. Over the years, even though the government has taken several initiatives, still there is a lot of work which needs to be done as there are many Government aided schools which have over 1000 students but only 200 books in their library half of which are magazines. The condition of low ranked private schools are even more miserable as they don't even have the minimum Government support. 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. Even though 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.
For more insights about our works, visit our website www.ngopanacea.org .