Two sisters, Abha (left) and Alka Nath (below), came to Bhopal in 2006 with their mom Mamta and dad Ujjwal, Sathyu’s former schoolmate, from Los Angeles. They said their visit to Bhopal opened their eyes in a big way. They started researching about what had happened in Bhopal in 1984, took pictures, interviewed people and recorded some of these interviews on video.
At home, they spent a year building a website about Bhopal, in which they incorporated their interviews, and pictures and all the information they collected. They wanted to spread the message of what had happened in Bhopal, so they decided to submit their website to the Oracle Thinkquest Website Competition. They ended up winning 3rd place for their website Bhopal – A Continuing Tragedy accomplishing both their goals: a larger audience and greater awareness.
Realising that water problems were not only limited to Bhopal, Alka started a club at their school called H2O for Life. Their club teams up with partner schools in underdeveloped countries to raise money for a sanitary water system in that city. So far they have aided three small cities in India, Ghana and Nigeria. They worked the whole year to raise a few thousand dollars and then sent the money to their partner school. The money pays for the improved water infrastructure, a few jobs for indigenous people, as well as local education on maintenance of the water system.
In 2010, Alka and Abha decided to revisit the cause of Bhopal. Using their website, they campaigned in their community to raise money. They hosted various fundraisers, and asked around for donations raising over $6000. Their first fundraiser was Alka’s 16th birthday party, in which those who attended gave donations to the Sambhavna Trust. Next Alka and Abha hosted a ‘fundraising party’ at their house. They charged a $4 admission for an evening of movies, games and food, and ended up raising quite a bit of money from their friends. Then they hosted a car wash at a local dealership, using minimal water to wash cars.
They raised even more money for Sambhavna through small fundraisiers such as bake sales (with lemonade), and selling candy in their school. They raised close to $300 by collecting plastic bottles and sending them for recycling at 5 cents per bottle. Lastly, they asked for donations from other family friends, and members of their extended family, and ended up adding significantly to the amount they had earlier raised. The sisters came back to Bhopal in August 2010, and presented the money they had raised at Sambhavna’s weekly staff. Everyone clapped and cheered as Alka and Abha narrated their story of how the money was raised. Both hope to come back to Bhopal soon, and will hopefully bring more money with them next time too.