With a mission to provide basic school supplies and setting up laboratories to the underprivileged, to sponsoring the education of visually blind and to ensure she never runs out of funds, this teenager has adorable qualities of kindness, compassion and service. A student of grade 10 from Greenwood High International School, Bengaluru, Nikhiya Shamsher has many laurels to her name and recently she was honoured with the ‘National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement 2017’. Brainfeed interacted with this National Awardee. Excerpts:
At such a young age how did you get the idea of setting up an NGO?
When I was 12-years-old, I realised that there are many children who do not have access to basic resources to study. It is hard to remain motivated and do well in exams with lack of resources. The senior students had no access to labs. As a result they often fared badly in exams. So, I decided to bridge this gap and have spearheaded three activities that provide the less privileged students with access to better education.
What is the specialty of your organisation and till now how many students have benefitted?
Since the last 3 years, through ‘Bags, Books and Blessings’, 7,700 students have received school supplies. ‘Yearn to Learn’ has so far started 35 labs in 9 schools, which are benefiting 6000 students. Using the funds collected through www.knicnacs.com, Yearn to Learn sponsored the school and college level education of 25 visually impaired children and has pledged to oversee their education till they graduate.
How do you raise funds for these activities?
We do conduct donation drives and crowd funding campaigns to raise money. In January 2017; I launched an e-commerce website called www.knicnacs.com to raise funds. I have formally registered my NGO called “Women Have the Same Set of Teeth as Men”.
Out of the 12,000 nominations received from all over the world, you were the only Indian to receive the ‘The Diana Legacy Award’. Comment.
The nominators were asked to submit evidence against 5 criteria (Vision, Social impact, Youth led, Service journey, Inspiring others). I had fit into all the categories. Among the 20 Diana Legacy Award winners, I am the only winner from India. The Duke of Cambridge Prince William and Prince Harry presented the award to me, at St James’s Palace, London on May 18, 2017.
How was your feeling when you received the ‘National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement 2017?
Meeting the President of India and receiving the award from him was an overwhelming moment. I thank the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Karnataka for nominating me for this prestigious award.
How can everyone contribute for a literate India?
I believe “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. As a country, we are facing our biggest challenge, which is semi-literacy. I want more people to come out and help the young people of our community and offer greater participation. We must join hands to ensure every child has access to quality education.
What message would you like to give to the students of your age? How can everyone contribute for a literate India?
I believe “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. As a country we are facing our biggest challenge, which is semi-literacy. In today’s age of innovation and specialisation, this can severely harm our future. I hope this award will help me to reach out to a wider audience. I want more people to come out and help the young people and offer greater participation. The world’s population is 7 billion and some people see that as a burden. I see that as an opportunity. According to me, even if we can get 10% more students in technological fields, we can solve a lot of problems that plague us today – climate changes, scarce resources and conflicts. It is simply a statistical advantage. Education is a human right and we must join hands to ensure every child has access to quality education.