January 10, 2016

Happy feet #SpreadTheVibe

2015 was hardly a great year at all. A series of catastrophes affected the world---the Charlie Hebdo attack, the mass earthquake in Nepal, the terrorist attack in Paris, Typhoon Melor in Philippines, the deluge that flooded Chennai. I sometimes wonder what is worse, attack by humanity (or by the lack of it) or by nature?

They say that in order to maintain a balance in the world, there should be enough good to counteract the bad, enough virtue to fight the vice, enough blessings to nullify the curse. Until this balance is maintained, we can be assured all is not lost.
The past year proved to me that every cloud, no matter how dark, has a silver lining. The bleakest hours of despair bring along with them a faint glimmer of kindness that begins to stands out like a beacon of hope in the pitch dark skies of sadness---hope of a new dawn.
In 2015, we had reason to fear the balance had gone awry. There was one disaster occurring after another. People were out to kill people. Nature was out to destroy race. We feared for our safety. The balance between human and inhuman seemed to be tipping....until help started pouring in from all around the globe. For every calamity that took a toll of hundreds of people, there were thousands extending a hand to hold on to. The terror attack in Paris was met with shock and retaliation. People from all corners of the world were showing solidarity. Victims in the flood prone areas in Chennai were being provided with food supplies, medical aid, and shelter. Likewise the devastating effect of the earthquake in Nepal were combated in solidarity from neighboring countries making us feel that when calamity strikes, everyone rushes to help.
But does it really take a sudden apocalypse to light that flicker of compassion in our heart?
A part of our country is in a state of constant crisis being subjected to new lows of drudgery, poverty, illiteracy, and sickness? All it takes is a few baby steps in the right direction. But we are too busy to stop and take notice...too engrossed in our own lives to even attempt to halt this gradual progression to impending doom, too tired to believe we are worthy of creating a significant impact. Thankfully, there are a few good people who haven't given up yet.

A simple act of kindness is capable of bringing about a great change. We don't need to be a politician or a celebrity. We just need to stay firm and resolute in our decision to make a difference, to touch somebody's life, to help someone smile. YouthKiAwaaz strives to spread the vibe of compassion by bringing to light such stories that create impact and drive change towards a better future for our country. Selfless souls are always a source of encouragement, their contribution a constant reminder that the world is not such a bad place after all....that humanity still exists, and it does not necessarily show up only at the eleventh hour. They set an example for the youth of our country, thereby motivating them to join in and widen the circle of compassion. Thus begins the revolution of change.

One such an inspiring name is Anam Zaidi, a woman responsible for creating a positive change in the lives of the underprivileged in Lucknow.  A social psychologist at Seth M.R. Jaipuria School, she works with underprivileged children and have been credited with many honors and awards. Zaidi and her team has worked in over 600 slums in Lucknow to provide literacy to the poorest slum children and adults by creating literary Dream Labs from scratch.

Pic source: Dream Labs page (link at the end of the post)
We are all aware of the unequal distribution of wealth in our country. While on one side, there are children flaunting designer tees and guzzling Gatorade at expensive coaching classes, there is another section of India that struggles to attend night school because they are too busy earning a living during the day. While children clothed in frills and lace are throwing terrible tantrums at their birthday bash in seven star restaurants on one end of the spectrum, there are those at the other far end living in dingy pipes and shanties with barely any clothes to cover their skeletal bodies.

'Shining India' has become a running joke since so long now that we have forgotten to think it funny. There are millions of children in India that are compelled to go barefoot as their families cannot afford to buy them shoes as they grow. Half the times, they cannot even afford a single decent pair of shoes. Helpless and without a choice, these children walk barefoot on dirty and unhygienic ground making them susceptible to dangers of contaminated soil and diseases.

In light of this issue, Anam Zaidi contribution is worthy of note. It all started last year when Anam read an article on 'the shoe that grows' on social media. Mr Kenton Lee (Founder and Executive Director of theshoethatgrows.org) had got the idea when he once saw a child walking to the church, wearing shoes that were too small for her. This caused her immense discomfort, and her discomfort made Mr Lee uncomfortable as well, and so he had come up with the concept of an advancing footwear called the 'growing shoes'. The growing shoes come with adjustable buckles and a strap on the toe that helps it expand to five sizes and lasts for at least five years. 

When Anam Zaidi read about this, a brilliant idea came to her mind. There were thousands of street children in India that could benefit with this idea. Every time she visited the slums for the literary campaigns, she would see half naked children running barefoot hither tither. She'd often worry for their safety. With metal shards, glass pieces and pointed objects lying around loosely, there was a constant threat of cuts and bruises looming high. She knew she wanted to help. But she did not know how to get about it.
Anam would see the kids hop barefoot on roads that were getting baked under the scorching sun. She would often helplessly notice how they would scurry off to school in ill fit slippers that were barely their size. With half their feet sticking out, they would hope to cover the distance from home to school and back without the shoe giving way. This was the future of her country, and she knew it is only by shaping the present of these children that we can steady their tomorrow.

Overcome by emotion and the urge to make a difference, Anam posted a status on Facebook seeking financial support for the cause. She was not sure of the outcome. But when the intention is good, the entire universe carves the path to success. immediately posted a status on Facebook seeking financial support for the cause. The response was overwhelming. The post was liked and shared by people all over, and soon enough the fund raising attracted the attention of a generous donor from the US who got in touch with Kenton Lee and donated money for three hundred pairs of the growing shoes in order to expedite the process. This was an important milestone for Anam Zaidi, to bring joy to the underprivileged children in Lucknow.

The bigger challenge, however, was getting the shoes delivered to India. However, a noble cause always receives a helping hand from somewhere or the other. Some students of Seattle Pacific University, who were travelling to Delhi in December, offered to help. They packed in the shoes in place of some extra clothes in their baggage. It was thanks to their effort that 300 pairs of shoes could be successfully transported to Delhi and from there to Lucknow.
Zaidi's fund raising campaign was a success. Around 150 needy students studying in NavSrijan, a school for underprivileged children run by Seth MR Jaipuria School, received the shoes. The happy faces on finding the perfect fit, could put even Cinderella to shame. They parents were overjoyed too. Anam's noble initiative did receive some media attention, but not as much popularity as it deserved.
However, gathering support for the underprivileged is an ongoing struggle. It is a slow and steady process, just like the cleansing of the soul. Awareness and inspiration are the key elements. Anam Zaidi's efforts have managed to inspire people like me to sit up and take notice.

There are cries of help coming from all corners of our country. If only we'd listen. A small step in the direction of a social cause can make a huge difference to someone's life. Anam has managed to create a keen sense of awareness of issues that need to be tended right at the grass root level. All we need is an active conscience. Each pair of 'growing shoes' will ascertain a child's health and happiness for the next five years, and will provide them more opportunities to succeed.

Anam Zaidi has paved the way for these happy feet. Lets pledge to keep them going...
Spread the vibe by sharing this information on your social networks and email lists, to help a child attain these growing shoes.

To make a donation for this special cause, click here.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"- Lao Tzu

Original source of pic: Facebook page 'The shoe that grows'
"These boots shoes are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do..."
Here's hoping this initiative reaches the right feet, and enables them to walk the roads of happiness, experience, and adventure.

The above post has been written for #SpreadTheVibe contest by #YouthKiAwaaz in collaboration with Indiblogger
You can vote for my post here.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this . I wish I had known you were posting an article a lot of facts are incorrect in terms of name and organisations. Please get in touch and I would happy to tell you the edits :)

Pri said...

@ Anam
Thanks for visiting my blog, Anam. I am impressed by your team's dedication and focus and wish to spread the vibe to as many people as I can. I'd really appreciate if you could update me on the edits in the comment section or on nostalgicmoments@gmail.com so that I can update them ASAP.

Apologies if you didn't find the post satisfactory---this was just a means of trying to get people aware of your wonderful initiative. I am hoping it will gather a lot of eyeballs in your direction, and more help towards the cause. They will definitely google you up (I have provided links) for more details. :)


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