With her car filled with toys, Hirin spends her weekends delivering happiness to young underprivileged children. From free medical checkup, increase in school participation, to community learning — toys have become a medium of social change in Ahmedabad.
Toys are fun and an important tool for a child’s holistic growth and development, believes Hirin Dave, Director at Tailored Solutions Private Limited, who gives away toys to the underprivileged kids in her pursuit to give them a bright future. Toys are not only meant for rich kids — even children from underprivileged backgrounds should have access to them. It was this thought that led Hirin to establish Give Toy Give Joy last year.
In just one year, Ahmedabad-based Give Toy Give Joy, a self-funded initiative, has managed to touch the lives of more than 2,000 underprivileged children across Ahmedabad. A web developer by profession, Hirin dedicates her weekends collecting and distributing toys, meeting NGOs, and working to bring cheer to those who are less fortunate.
“I spent a lot of time with the slum kids. When we play together, I see the happiness on their faces. I realised that many houses have unused toys at their homes. Hence, I started this initiative where anyone can donate their unwanted toys to bring happiness in someone else’s life,” says 34-year-old Hirin.
Initially, when Hirin started her journey, people were reluctant to give away even their worn-out games. They did not trust her and wondered about her motives; her friends and acquaintances kept procrastinating and always promised to give her the toys “the next day”. However, undeterred she continued her quest and she used social media to gain the trust of donors. Her first post on “the joy of giving” went viral and soon, many parents across Ahmedabad came forward and started to donate more toys; few individuals even brought new toys for the children.
Every Saturday, Hirin goes door to door collecting toys and on Sundays, through NGOs, she distributes the toys among the children. Further, she has made a conscious effort to distribute the toys among factory workers and construction site children as this community is often overlooked by many other organisations who work for the welfare of underprivileged kids. “While the parents work as daily wage labourers, the children are left by themselves for hours together and more often, there are no provisions for study, play or food,” Hirin explains.
Through the medium of toys, Hirin encourages children to participate in school. “Through fun and games, we can subconsciously influence the minds of the children; we tell them that if there are certain words which they don't understand then should go to school and ask their teacher for explanations,” she explains. There is a need to develop a method to initiative a hunger of learning from both ends – the teacher and the student. If the student shows interests in studies, then even the teacher will be motivated to bring new ideas to class.
Last month, she also conducted a free medical checkup for all the children living in the Behrampura area. Hirin along with Dr Prakash Vaishnav, a paediatrician and a member of the Rotary club, Ahmedabad, were successful in raising enough funds for medicines and they provided health screenings for almost 200 kids. They identified 50 children who have blood deficiency, low calcium, and vitamin among others problems; and the duo is working towards providing further medical help to them.
It all started in May 2016, when Hirin and her seven-year-old daughter, Jiya, were cleaning the house. When Jiya stumbled across a bunch of her old unused toys, she told her mother to give it away to other children. Following the usual norm, she kept it aside for the housekeeper; however, Jiya had other ideas. She told her mother that the maid did not have any young children and that it would be of no use to her. Hence, Hirin and her daughter made a life alternative road trip towards their maid’s colony to give away the toys to underprivileged children.
“Jiya was excited to share her toys with others and then I thought that this feeling and joy should come in every child,” Hirin says.
She says that today we have forgotten to teach our kids about the “joy of giving.” Elaborating further, she explains, “today in Ahmedabad even siblings don't share things between them; even books once used are discarded rather than shared. The children have this innate feeling that ‘This is mine.’”
Hence, in all her social media posts, she specifically thanks the children along with the family members for their donation hoping that late in their life, these children are reminded of their generosity and the impact they have had on another child’s life.
Toys are not just meant for play, but, if used effectively, it can help to develop cognitive skills, lead to physical improvement, and can act as a holistic growth model for toddlers. “Certain toys can enhance finger movements in babies which later have an impact on their handwriting skills. We need to include both soft toys and learning games together to help in overall development of children right from the beginning,” she says.
Further, in the coming few months, she is also working to build a pop-up community library where volunteers will be encouraged to read stories out loud to the children. She says that her work is incomplete and there is still a lot more work left to do to help enhance skills of underprivileged children.