There are still 58 million children around the world who do not have access to primary education, as stated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). They are most likely unable to get their hands on books either. This fact led an 11-year-old Dubai resident to embark upon her journey of conceptualising, planning and finally executing a book collection drive.

Nishkka Kathpal has been a lover of books since childhood. Her books would stand open as she devoured the words alongside her food during meals. The assignments in writing class often reflected the characters and plots that she would have just read about.

She strongly believes in a line from the book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Kathpal said: “Initially, I began my endeavour to bring about a difference to the world by collecting newspapers for recycling. However, some people would also give me old books with the newspapers.”

Thus Kathpal’s desire to donate books for the less fortunate children gained fillip.

She said: “I designed flyers to inform my friends about my venture of collecting old books.”

Soon the ball was set rolling and her book collection drive was starting to look promising. In a few weeks’ time, she had managed to collect around 250 books. From toddler books to encyclopedias, bedtime stories to textbooks and finally some serious finance and marketing books, her collection had them all.

Jiten Rajput, managing director of a trading company in Dubai, supported her cause.

He said: “I would save all the newspapers and old books that would collect overtime and hand it over to my niece. One day, she brought to my notice that in the lots that I gave her, there were old books that could be put to better use. So, I began collecting old books that I had since my teenage days and did not have the heart to discard. I am happy that the books will be read by the less privileged.”

Sunny R., a business development manager based in Dubai, helped Kathpal in her drive to collect books by raising awareness among his friends about the cause and thus accumulated books from friends who were relocating to other countries and wanted to discard them.

He said: “What could be a better way than making these books available for children who have the desire to read, but cannot due to financial constraints.”

After collecting all these books, Kathpal donated the same to the Emirates Red Crescent, through whom she would like the books to reach underprivileged children in different parts of the world. She is happy that all the books collected by her in the collection drive will now find new readers and brighten up their world.

— The reader is a writer based in Dubai.

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