During one of our annual visits to Assam, our young son, felt very distraught when he noticed rickshaw wallas and poor children without any footwear. He was saddened and surprised that there were people who could not afford some of the very basic things in life. From then on, he found it very difficult to ride rickshaws, and expressed his wish that if he had all the wealth in the world, he would make sure that the less fortunate amongst us, would, at the very least, have the basic necessities of life.
That was when he was a young child of 11 years of age. Those were the utopian wishes of a young child immersed in idealism. But today, as we look back, we try to see the world through our son’s eyes and as his parents, we would like to take the first step in fulfilling this tiny, cherished dream of our son. We believe, our son taught us to look at the world with a different perspective, to be more compassionate and to try and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than us.
We have been toying with this simple idea of providing footwear for children for some time now. This December, we plan to launch this project, we that we have dubbed as “Soles for Tots”. Providing shoes and footwear for the poor is not a new idea. There are a number of international organizations that already have successful projects in the US, Latin America, and in Africa. The successes depend on a few factors. The sincere involvement of, and contributions from the local civic associations, businesses, and individuals are often the key ingredients to a continuous success in such operations.
Footwear has become one of the basic necessities of modern life. However, shoes or sandals are a very low priority for many of Assam’s poor. This project aims at providing shoes to young children. Today, we realize and understand that lack of footwear can often lead to diseases and illnesses in developing countries. Further, young children may be exposed to injuries that could lead to serious complications like tetanus. Proper footwear often helps in preventing diseases that become pronounced in later years.
It is with in mind, we propose to start a small shoe or sandals project in Assam. This December, we are planning to launch the “Soles For Tots” project in Assam. Towards this end, we earnestly seek the generosity and involvement of the Assamese residents outside Assam.
We have already made some contacts with some outstanding people in Assam, like Mr. Kaushik Das.
Mr. Das, in spite of having a full plate, is willing lend us a helping hand in coordinating this effort. As some of you may be aware, Mr. Das runs the Atma Nirbhar - Ek Challenge a home for the physically challenged.
We are committing $1,000 for now. If everything goes well, it will be an ongoing project. We are hoping to attract additional contributions from some institutions in Assam, like Lions Club and the Rotary Clubs. We would also like to invite Assamese residents outside Assam to contribute if they can. US residents could send contributions through ASA Foundation or AFNA.
Residents in India could, of course, send their contributions to Mr. Kaushik Das or Uttam Teron of Parijat Academy. To send money to the Soles for Tots Project, one can send money to ICICI BANK, Account Name: Parijat Academy, Account Number: 054301001492, Branch: Fancy Bazar Branch, IFSC code: ICIC0000543, Address: OHIO Shopping Complex, M.G. Road, Fancy Bazar, Guwahati-781001, Assa, India. Please mention clearly in terms of notes that the money is for the Soles for Tots project. The address for Uttam Teron is Parijat Academy, Pamohi, P.O. Grachuk, Guwahati-781035, Assam, India.
The main distribution point will be Parijat Academy, Guwhati. There may also be some other distribution centers in rural areas. If successful, we plan to extend the project to Pragyalaya in Upper Assam.
We are expecting to distribute the footwear in late December.
Alpana & Ram Sarangapani