Toybank has moved mountains
Written by Toybanker, Ashima Khemka
“Blessed are those, who have a calling” – That is all I felt when I said yes to Chozin, who wrote to me in December 2018 to request for some toys and games for the rural primary schools in the Nyoma block of Changthang, Ladakh. Within a span of 15 days, I was able to collect some 200 educational toys & games that were immediately transported to those high mountains by the student volunteers of SAVE – The Student’s Association for Village Education, Nyoma.
Within the next few weeks, the mountains got buried in snow and some of the volunteers traveled down to the plains – that’s when I met two of them, Thinles & Chozin. Over a steaming plate of chai & samosa in the middle of Delhi winters, I could feel the energy that they carried within. Even though they had an option to live in these comfortable cities, yet they wanted to head back & give back to their land and their people. Every word they spoke was full of hope & positivity. They were confident that whatever they wish for will happen – It’s just about ‘when’. The truth is that somewhere I saw my own youth reflection in their eyes and hearts. They had a simple wish to introduce the game of football to the children of Nyoma and asked me if I could help- And I said ‘yes’ again!
This was certainly going to be one of the biggest sporting events that the block had ever seen, and with a couple of hoardings around the Nyoma town, the excitement of ‘the game’ was making its way into the hearts of the village men & women. They all heard that there are more number of participating girls than boys- was that true? That the children are going to get a permanent play field in the town – was that true? That big companies are sending clothes & shoes for the village children – was that true? That a celebrity singer was coming to entertain all of them –could that be true as well? But by the way, what is this game of soccer, anyways?
Finally, as we came closer to the date, almost 100 SAVE volunteers got into action. Everything was being done by hand – from the clearing up of the fields, setting up of the tents in those stony grounds and the painting of the flags & banners. Most of them heard about Toybank for the first time but were ready to work tirelessly to give the ‘right to play’ to the children of their villages – something that they themselves had missed in their childhood. The energy was spreading fast. The fields were prepared – which in Nyoma means the removal of about a thousand stones – big and small. The food & living areas were being set. The logistics & cultural teams forgot looking at their clocks. And yes, the coaches & their 24 teams with 320 children were all set!