My love of reading has brought me to many places. This episode is one of them. I really like reading and so when I learnt that my Mum sponsors a Girls School in India, I got thinking. This Girls School was a Learning Center managed by a group called iimpact and is in a remote village in Jharkhand. Mum said they didn’t have a library, so I had the idea that we could make a library for them. Initially I thought I might be able to help only 1 learning center (30 girls approximately) but soon it became a much, much bigger idea and I decided to raise the money to build a miniature library for all 40 learning centers in the District. That would mean raising 2000 SGD! All of this planning got me extremely excited as a positive new thought bounced into my head: I’m going to help 1200 girls out there in the world. It seemed like an impossible goal to meet at first and I was unsure whether this project would be left hanging like a dead leaf, or whether it would blossom. When my family and I settled down in the living room that evening, all of us had a whole bunch of ideas of how to raise money. We sat down together, with pots and pots of tea, discussing how I would collect all this money.

My first idea was to raise the money through my good behavior. Mum and dad had a system at home: red coins and green coins. Basically, the amount of good and productive things I did would earn me green coins. If I did mischievous things and was rude, I would earn red coins. All my green points would be the amount of money I would earn, after subtracting my red coins from the total. So, with this new agreement in mind, I tried to work harder and be kind and helpful so I could on more green points! In one month, I earned approximately about 75 Singapore dollars and only got five red points! Money was arriving. Indeed, it was, but at an excruciatingly slow rate. I needed more money, and quick! I couldn’t leave all those girls waiting. Once again, I asked for help to brainstorm. My family and I retreated to the living room where we talked about a variety of ways money could be raised. My father said that he knew of a friend, whose son had hosted a ‘Reading Marathon’ and had earned money from contributing relatives and friends. Mum and I loved the idea of hosting a Reading Challenge with all my friends. Once again, excitement settled into my soul.

A change! I was finally being a Changemaker. I created a pamphlet for my reading challenge to give to my fellow friends. There was a letter explaining the reason for the book challenge, the steps to follow and finally the contribution form to record their pledges and the progress of their book reading. The aim was to read 15 books in 45 days! Tough, but not impossible. I handed out the pamphlet to friends in my neighbourhood and condominium. My friends, Nakisha, Saachi, Anurati and Savitur joined in. Soon, I got busy trying to read and finish 15 books in 45 days while also encouraging my friends to do the same. I raised 700 SGD myself while my friends raised about 300 SGD more. We had 1000 SGD in total but still not enough.

Here is what I wrote :

Finally, I sought mums help again. She thought a bit when I consulted about more ideas and then announced, “I challenge you to a book report writing challenge! The same aim. But this time you have to try harder than just seeking donors from within the family and friends circle”. I looked at her, dazzled and then replied “ok! I accept the challenge – 15 book reports in 45 days”. I went out to fish out the form where I had recorded all my books on and started  writing book reports on most of them. This time though I went further: I wrote a letter to the world to ask them if they would like to contribute to my cause.

img_6896Mum helped me post it onto her Facebook. And so many kind people came forward to help me. I was even more motivated than ever! I got to work, writing, editing, getting feedback, editing and finally publishing! Mind you, it’s quite a lot of hard work. However in the end my hard work paid off. Each time I finished a report, my mother posted it on her Facebook and alerted my donors of my progress. I got so much support and encouragement for both my blogs and my cause. And when I finished the challenge, I got money in the post that was sent as cheques by overseas relatives and friends and received cash from friends in Singapore. It’s funny how when you start something you feel like you might never get it done. I thought I wouldn’t even reach 1000 SGD. But I ended up beating my target and raising over $2000 and have helped 1200 girls in 40 learning centres across Jharkhand, India. Isn’t that just amazing?! I look forward to someday visiting all the schools in Jharkhand and learning from that experience and hopefully can continue to help more children have the gift of reading. This has been one of the most special experiences of my life.

Everything I have done, has been a great experience for me. Thank you everyone for supporting me through all of this. Everything seems impossible until you get it done!

Here are the 15 books I read for my first challenge :