When fantasy hit reality

Many a time I have tried imagining what my childhood would have been, without all the magic of Harry Potter or the adventures of the Famous Five in their secret island (I have always envied George for that), or without all that fan-girling I did about the Olsen twins. Well, I could not really picture a childhood without any of these elements, or all the gazillion other books I have grown up obsessing about for that matter. Books have always been a major part of my life, with me jumping from fantasy after fantasy, living the lives of so many characters, and growing up with so many lessons they had to teach me.

As hard as it was to imagine such a childhood without the magic of books for myself, it was even harder to imagine it being a reality for so many underprivileged kids around the world today. Kids whose lives have been forced into harsh realities and burdening responsibilities from a very early age. Kids who have been deprived of that wonderful phase of their life, yet who deserve it no lesser than their fortunate peers.

And that is why I was so very impressed when I read about the Storytime initiative: a group of young volunteers who worked to bring magic into the lives of so many underprivileged kids, by gathering storybooks through book drives and then redistributing them to school libraries in poor neighbourhoods, which they also help renovate. To imagine that kind of enchanting effect with which they transformed their childhoods got me determined to do my bit in giving back their well-deserved childhoods.

Our Book-Drive in Sharjah

It was September 2015 and I was a sophomore at the American University of Sharjah. Our Fall semester was about to commence and we began working on the Book-Drive. At the beginning of every semester, our university?s Community Service department organizes a Charity Book Sale. That Fall, we launched the Storytime Book-Drive along with the Charity Book Sale, gathering children?s storybooks to be sent to schools in India. The book drive had a great response and came through pretty well. Once we got a good number of books, we then had to figure out how to ship them to India. It is times like these that you?ve got to be mindful of the charity and NGO regulations in your country. The book drive was over in about 2 weeks, but it took us another month to get through with all the procedures and finally had them shipped to India.

I am really grateful to all my friends who helped me with

To many more magical and immortalized childhoods!

Rahsi Shafana