Hope, empathy and change: Ashoka student’s act of kindness during COVID-19
Out of sheer goodwill and to help make a difference, Amaan, an Ashoka undergraduate student crowd funded money to buy laptops for students who couldn’t afford them.
In 2020, as the traces of COVID-19 sprung and brought the world to a standstill, we witnessed a huge shift towards digital learning. There have been countless examples of students who have struggled to shift to e-learning because of non-availability of funds to afford a laptop or computer. We have heard of many celebrities who have come forward to extend support to the needy during these difficult times. Many commoners who chose to help others quietly have also made a huge difference in the lives of others. Mohammad Amaan Asim, an undergraduate student at Ashoka, started a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to buy laptops for students who couldn’t afford one themselves. Talking about the campaign, Amaan said, “The campaign arose from realising the urgent need for laptops for students, after the sudden transition to online education. More so, for economically weaker students pursuing specialised courses that needed these laptops to continue their education.” Amaan’s ardent interest in public service and social upliftment has already made him work on issues related to healthcare and education. As he continued, “This particular campaign was inspired by the recognition of the immense privilege I had in the face of a pandemic, in terms of continuing my education conveniently. However, others weren’t as fortunate. And I felt it was my duty to attempt to extend the same privilege to those who didn’t have the same.”
How did he manage the whole process, curiously I asked him. He said, “The students were selected by floating an online form among those who had received scholarships from the Humane Touch Trust earlier. The form received several responses in a short time and included questions to determine financial need and merit. The students were filtered on the basis of their need and academic performance.”
“The other end of the process was securing a competitive price for the laptops, which we received from HP. Donations for the laptops came through the crowd funding portal only partially, and the larger part of the funds were solicited on a personal basis with donors.”
Humane Touch Trust is an organisation Amaan has been practically raised with as it was established by his aunt. “My affinity to social service drew me to officially taking up the position of President of the recently formed Youth Wing of the Trust. The Trust was instrumental in providing me with the legitimacy and reputation it held, and access to its donor database. The patrons of the organisation were keen to extend their assistance to a project that was responding actively to a new and uncharted problem in society – that of inequality in online education due to lack of resources,” he said. As the saying goes, a little act of kindness goes a long way! At 20-years of age Amaan has inspired countless others with his act of kindness, and the impact he is creating is astounding at best! He is looking forward to creating further deeper impact by identifying and contributing to the society in multiple ways.
One of the beneficiaries with a laptop
“It feels like a great sense of accomplishment with the burden of responsibility. The burden to not only continue the good work, but to ensure that the one success doesn’t solely define you and isn’t a finishing point, but rather the beginning of many more such initiatives,” he said. Amaan aspires to someday be in a position “to impact change in people’s lives at a much larger scale and extent than today.” For him, Ashoka has instilled a certain drive and confidence which coupled with his innate desire to make a difference in people’s lives has been the cornerstone. He said “The learnings from my courses and experiences informally in college have made me a keen observer of inequalities around me and eventually striving towards rectifying those in any way possible.” So far Amaan has raised Rs.11.1lakhs through crowd funding and assistance from regular donors. It has already touched the lives of 30 people. His campaign has been widely covered by many media outlets including Bangalore Mirror, The Site,Asianet Newsable, etc. “The experience has made me realise the power of connections. Like I did – of connecting those who needed something, with those who could provide the same. And I believe, each and every individual has that power which is latent, and just needs the nudge to thrust forward,” he concluded. His is a story that shows grit and hope and how generosity fuelled with determination can bring that much desired change and make this society just and equal. Indeed, not every hero wears a cape! At present, Mohammad Amaan Asim is pursuing his undergraduate degree at Ashoka with a Major in Political Science and a Minor in International Relations.