Vision is defined as ‘the faculty or state of being able to see’. But the underlying meaning of the word is not as simple as it sounds. Helping others does not always mean giving food or clothing or imparting education to people. All of us have it in ourselves to make a difference within our capabilities; and 17-year-old Aarushi Gupta proves that.
Aarushi is a student of class 12 at Modern School Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. In 2009, Aarushi started ‘Spectacular Drive’, an initiative to help people with impaired vision. She collects used spectacles from people — which otherwise end up in dustbins — around her and gives them to NGOs like Help Age India, Jan Sewa Foundation and Goonj.
Aarushi says she first had this idea when she was 10 years old. She realized that her own old spectacles could be of use to someone else and donating them to needy people would go a long way. She started researching about it and found that the issue was much larger than she had thought. Initially, because of her very young age it was difficult do this in a sustained manner. However, over time her dream to help needy people has come true.
Over 150 million people in the country need glasses but don’t have access to them. As part of her social initiative, she collects used spectacles from her neighborhood, opticians, organizations and acquaintances and donates her collection to NGOs like Help Age India, Goonj and Jan Sewa Foundation. She has volunteered with various organizations to set up free eye camps, check-ups and cataract surgeries apart from providing spectacles to people at a nominal cost.
Her parents have been supportive throughout and have been helping her wherever possible. Even her school has been very supportive in this regard. Despite all the support the ride was not smooth. There have been a lot of challenges she has had to face especially when it came to convincing people about her idea. At times it was frustrating not getting any response from people, she says.
Aarushi sets up drop boxes at public places where people can drop their old spectacles. To make sure she has a large impact, Aarushi interacts with a lot of people, presents to corporates, distributes leaflets at public places to make sure she has a large turnout at the collection drives.
All this effort has not been in vain. So far more than 1500 people have benefitted from her drive. She says, “Donation costs you nothing but you gain the gratitude of many.”
Aarushi has been acknowledged for her effort and was shortlisted as a finalist for the 4th Annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, an international program which is recognized at school level for volunteer community service.
She says the appreciation of people and acknowledgement drives her to do more in this space.