80 Mumbai youngsters send 110 poor students to school

It is heartening to know that not all youngsters in Maximum City are afflicted by the splurge-all-you-can credo of a consumerist age. A few are dedicatedly saving money -- not for themselves but for those who cannot afford to pay for school fees, or even food to get by. 

Gift of education: The youngsters collecting the money to hand over to the school yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Some 80 young professionals and collegians from Borivli, operating under the banner Shashwat Youth Foundation (SYF), have decided to fund school fees of deprived students from a school in their suburb. They have, since the inception of the informal SYF, paid fees for more than 110 students of the school, in all amounting to Rs 1,60,500 in cash.

(Third from left) Sohail Shah, Mit Shah, Yashesh Shah and Nipun Doshi

Sohil Shah, 21
Computer engineer, KJ Somaiya College
Last year we visited an orphanage and distributed food and other household stuff. Then we all decided to make a contribution for the education of needy students in a Borivli school. When we got a good response, we decided to fund their education this
year as well.

Yashesh Shah, 21
Bachelor of Management Studies, KPB Hinduja College
Since we are young our group is not registered as an NGO. Forming that will force us to give designations to members, which won't be appropriate at this age. We all are equal and wish to work together. No one wishes to be designated as chairman or president so the group is not registered.

Mit Shah, 19
Has just passed Std XII
When I was in school I realised that most students, with a background of poverty, couldn’t pay even the minimum school fee. So my friends and our group SYF decided to contribute for the needy students in my school.

Nipun Doshi, 21
Bachelor of Computer Applications, Kiran Devi Saraf College
When we were told by Mit that many students in his school couldn't afford their fees, we decided to take up their cause. We first met the principal and asked for the names of students who couldn’t pay the fees. After going over the list with the help of class teachers, we noted down the names of those who actually needed donation.  

SYF is not a registered NGO but a collective with disparate causes, all rooted in the idea of uplifting disadvantaged sections of society. Its affiliates do not hanker after designations or press coverage, they “just want to help”.

Says 19-year-old Mit Shah, “It was Yashesh and I who first had the thought that rather than wasting money on roaming around, hanging out and splurging it on unnecessary things, we can pool it and do something for the needy. That is the time we decided to bring all our friends together for the cause.”

The first mission the group took up after coming together last year was for orphanage Shanti Ashram in Gorai, where they distributed food and household items. The same year, they also donated school fees for 43 hard-up students at the school. When they saw the response from the students, they extended the aid this year too, this time for more than 70 students.

Only yesterday, a total fees amount of Rs 1 lakh was given to students of Stds V to X. The youngsters also chipped in for stationery worth Rs 5,000. Nipun Doshi, 21-year-old SYF member, said, “The money we gathered is mostly from our pockets and from the donations our elders and friends made.”

Nipun, along with Yashesh Shah, Mit Shah and Sohil Shah, among others from the group, were present at the institute to distribute the amount.

The class teachers helped them with identifying the indigent students who could not pay their annual school fees of Rs 1,500. Many are orphans in the custodianship of kin, or wards of single or handicapped parents, or facing challenging situations like physical disability.

Rs 1 lakh
Amount the members of Shashwat Youth Foundation handed over to a Borivli school yesterday

Rs 5,000
Amount they paid for stationery, books, etc

School grateful
A spokesperson of the school said, “SYF has been helping us since last year and they are doing a very good job. We are proud that these youngsters are concerned about society. Our school is aided but there are expenses like students’ exam fees, calendars, sports fees and so on that most can’t pay even though it is a minimal amount of Rs 1,500. The government doesn’t give us non-salary grants and the trust pays for it from its pocket.”

Another schoolteacher said, “Most students at our school are from middle and lower-middle classes. While some are looked after by single parents or mothers who work as housemaids, others depend on relatives. We are happy that there are youths like these who are taking an initiative to help needy students.”

Other members
The following SYF members were also present to hand out the cash at the school
Chintan Dedhia (22), Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer from Nashik,
Hitayu Doshi (20), TY BCom student
Pratik Shah (25), Businessman
Rohan Shah (20), TY BSc IT student
Sameep Shah (18), FY Chemical Engineering student
Harsh Shah (22), Teacher at coaching classes 

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