Nearly 700 school children came together at Sri Krishna Arts and Science College here on Wednesday evening, all brightly dressed in their festive best. But it was not to attend any cultural event. Rather it was to put their minds together to choose solutions to eradicate poverty from the lives of at least a few people.

And, these solutions were to be executed using the money the children had saved over three months in the ‘hundi’ given to them by representatives of Shanti Ashram under the aegis of the ‘Poverty Solutions’ initiative.

The exercise was to give them a chance to choose an option to use their savings for poverty eradication. And, it turned out to be a revelation for the school principals and the Ashram staff as they voiced out their choices with passion.

The initiative, aimed at involving children and youth in eradicating poverty, began on last Gandhi Jayanthi and completed on January 30, and saw 944 children from 42 institutions save money in the ‘hundi.’

Representatives from the Ashram, along with student volunteers from colleges, came up with certain broad areas from which the participants could choose their area of interest for contributing their collection.

They were: education scholarships for vulnerable children, critical child health interventions, reverse anaemia among girl school children, setting up food bank for some institutions, and peer knowledge sharing clinics.

Schools chose from the above and also the specific areas within the broad options. These solutions would be implemented by college student volunteers.

Some participant students shared ways, other than the ‘hundi’ system, they had used as a means of eradicating poverty. There were stories of children getting proceeds out of selling more than 3,000 greeting cards, while a few others distributed CFL lamps to rural households free of cost.

A. Karthikeyan, a second-year MBBS student, who is involved in the implementation of the solutions, said that it was heartening to see the dedication of the children-participants.

“The hundi collection is distributed in three parts – self, family, and society. Students have to give only one-third to the poverty solution initiative. But when we went to the schools to count the money, many wanted to give the whole amount for the initiative,” he said.

G. Vijayaragavan, Head, Youth Leadership Programme of the Ashram, said the second phase that would take off this October 2 would be on a larger scale involving more institutions and students.

The initiative is designed in such a manner that the collection is done for three months (October – January) and the solution is implemented from February to September.

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