A book treasure hunt was held recently to raise funds for children at risk

On a sunny weekend in New Delhi, the newly reopened Oxford Bookstore in Connaught Place was abuzz with activity. Young boys and girls were milling around with a sense of purpose that distinguished them from the average book browser and buyer.

They were participating in ‘The Missing Page’, a book treasure hunt. In groups of two, they were trying to decode the clue printed on a strip of paper and find the book it led them to. The bookstore staff did not stay aloof; they stood near the book, all the while pretending to be engrossed in their chores. As and when a team got to the intended book, they handed them another clue, leading to another book.

For each correct answer, the teams got a point. If they couldn’t decode the clue, they could approach the ‘grand keeper’ for the correct answer. But this would lead to the deduction of a point. Below each clue was a cipher clue; and all cipher clues put together would lead to another book, finding which would yield four points. The teams with the maximum points contested in a grand finale on Sunday.

It wasn’t just about fun and games though; the proceeds from the treasure hunt (each team paid a registration fee of Rs.500) would be used towards the education of children-at-risk under the educational program of Make A Difference (MAD), an NGO.

Founded with the aim of education children at risk, MAD operates in 23 cities, and has a sizable network of volunteers. “We want to give these children resources that they cannot access. The situation they live in is not ideal, which is why they are not able to realise their potential,” said Aishvarya Raghavan, marketing fellow with MAD, who devised all the clues.

Under the English Project of MAD, volunteers go to shelter homes on weekdays to teach children English. “We collaborated with Cambridge University Press, so they made special books for MAD children at a subsidised rate. We have a lot of fundraising events like this, so that we can give the children more books,” a volunteer added.

Apart from the English project, MAD also runs a Placement Project. “Public school kids get all the exposure required because they belong to well off families. They have exposure to different career domains which are there for them to choose. These kids in shelter homes don’t have that. What we do with them is planned, structured activities in different career domains so that they get a decent exposure.”

Talking about the treasure hunt, they said, “We already had done it in Hyderabad and it was a good hit. Basically we all are book lovers, and it goes with our theme, so it fit in well.”

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