Last year the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre was lucky enough to be visited by a remarkable young woman. Here is the story of Surabhi’s experience in her own words: “A few months ago, I came across the documentary ‘Bhopali’ by Van Maximilian Carlson that educated me about the current effects of the 1984 disaster. Before moving to Singapore, I lived in Bhopal for a good part of my life. I visit it every year. I call it my hometown; and yet, I was never aware of the fact that so many still suffered from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It came to me almost as a shock. The documentary also introduced Chingari Trust as an organization working to help the affected kids. Being highly inspired by their work, I decided to visit it during my summer break with my dad on our week-long trip to Bhopal.
On my 5-day visit to Chingari, I took interviews, photos and videos of the centre. During this I got to meet many inspiring individuals. On my last day, I held an art workshop for the kids and decided to sponsor a week’s mid-day meal. I had had a life changing experience. I aspired to work for Chingari as a part of my school project back in Singapore. I acknowledged Chingari of my plan to raise money at school by selling self-made products. They responded to my offer very positively, motivating me further.
Upon returning to Singapore, I combined all the recordings and photos taken at Chingari into a short educational video that I showed to some staff members at my school (ISS International School, Singapore). Being very impressed and touched by it, they encouraged me to carry out a school wide campaign that would help raise funds. I themed the campaign black and white and called it ‘Help Chingari. Help save a life.’ I hand-made 150 key chains and got 100 originally designed t-shirts printed. A lot of publicising was done before the sales. Posters were put up around the school and I gave presentations that also showcased the video, to all the grade levels. The sales went better than expected. I managed to sell 200 key chains and 140 t-shirts. On 6th December, our school held a day where everyone paid a dollar to wear black and white or the t-shirts I had sold.
At the end, I had unexpectedly raised $3,200. To use this amount in the best possible way, I decided to buy Chingari a van. They use vans to transport kids to and from the centre each day. I thought it would be a great way to contribute. After checking with Chingari if this would be a good use of the funds, we bought them a Maruti Omni Van. The van can now accommodate about 40 kids each day. I am very gratified to have had an opportunity to use my skills to help such a noble organization.”
Chingari is a very special place and, as such, attracts some amazing people. We are incredibly grateful for the way that Surabhi took Chingari, and all of the children, to her heart and the way she translated her experience into a practical project. The outcome of her effort will be of tremendous benefit to all of the kids at Chingari and their families. Our congratulations, and heart-felt thanks, go to Surabhi for her inspiration and her hard work.