One day my brother, Veeraj, got a call from his friend ‘K’ saying that his mother has been diagnosed brain tumor of size 7.4 x 4.3 x 5.5 cms. He said it needs to be operated at the earliest and that the surgery & hospitalization would cost somewhere between 3 – 5 lakhs. Knowing that K’s financial & social background was very weak, we were left with the only option of raising funds from personal sources. Our main challenge was to raise 1.5 lakhs in 24 hours for the surgery.
Immediately we all started calling up our contacts. It was then Veeraj thought of calling his friend Richa Kerjriwal, whom he had met in a CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) camp. Richa was a sweet, caring seventeen-year old studying in the 12th grade. As Veeraj told her about the situation, she asked him to send her a copy of the medical report, hospital estimate sheet & request letter (for raising funds) by K’s family. It was then 12:45pm and she had to rush for college by 1:30pm. She suggested Veeraj to send it by fax. But most of the shops were closed for lunch. However, she managed to find out a shop and my father faxed it before 1:30pm. She assured that she’ll try her level best.
That afternoon passed. I had to go somewhere and I returned home at 6:30 pm. As I entered, Veeraj asked me, “Bro, I got a call from Richa”. “Ok..”, I said. He asked, “Do you have any idea how much she has collected”? When he saw my blank face he paused for a moment and said, “Forty Thousand. She collected Thirty Thousand from her college mates & teachers, and Ten Thousand from her relatives”. I was stunned. I saw the same reaction on Veeraj’s face.
I spoke to Richa after some time and this is what she said,”Bhaiyya (Elder brother), when Veeraj called me I told him that I will raise some money. I first approached my college authorities to see if I could get something from the college Charity Fund or Students’ Fund. But they told me that it could be used only if the beneficiary is a relative of the students of the college. I then talked to my friends who helped me with a sum of Rs.3500/-. I thought for a second, ‘What a small help would this be? Is this all that I could do?’ So I gave an application to the Vice Principal to allow me to request money from my college mates of 11th & 12th standard. His initial reply was to put it up on the notice board. Somehow I managed to convince him that it wouldn’t be of any use and that I have to go to the students if I need to raise money. I went to each and every classroom and introduced myself and explained the purpose of my visit. And I raised this money from my college mates. Some gave just coins, even 50 paise coins (In fact I paid Rs.60 as auto fare just in coins…I had so many of them). Some donated Rs.2, some Rs.5 and some even gave between Rs.100 – Rs.200 according to their capacity. I never said “No” even for the lowest donor. Another friend of mine had got a cash prize of Rs.6000/- from our coaching class today. When I asked him, without even thinking for a second, he gave me Rs.5000/-. I told him that this is a huge amount. You may give me Rs.1000, that’s fine. He replied that it was a donation. And one is not supposed to say “No” to donations. I happily accepted the money. My teachers also helped me with their contributions. Some assured me to give me a cheque tomorrow. My Principal helped me with the lead of an NGO who can even take care of the whole expenses. When I came home, my parents were shocked to see this money as they had no clue what was going on. My dad was impressed with the work and he also helped me with his contribution of Rs.5000/-. My dad has told me that he could also help me with an NGO who could take care of the expenses. My twelve-year old brother felt so proud about me that he gave his contribution of Rs.10/- (all that he had) to add to this”
When I saw that her list was going endless, I asked her to stop and said, “I don’t know how to thank you for the great work you have done. And that too for a total stranger. In fact you have done more than what we elders could do.”
That night, when I lay on my bed, I was wondering….
If a seventeen year old girl can have the ATTITUDE of loving and helping somebody whom she doesn’t even know,
If a teenager can have a WILL to do something for a NOBLE cause and not for her own selfish interest,
If a youngster can keep going without limiting herself with a specified target and only aim for the MAXIMUM,
… then to what extent our country can rise with a few teenagers like Richa who think – “IMPOSSIBLE is just a word!”