Generation Z—pampered, glued to the screen and drowning in an endless Tik Tok feed. This is how you would imagine today’s teenager. But you couldn’t be further from the stereotype when it comes to Shivika Gupta.
Shivika, who was born and grew up in Kolkata, had a heightened sensitivity towards children from less fortunate sections of society from an early age. Not far from Kolkata there was another girl who had similar aspirations—to help the poor and to use her abilities to uplift others. It would be sometime before the two would meet.
Shivika always had a desire to do something to help the poor, to serve the community.But she did not quite know the path to take. As we say at Giving Circle, when the intention is there, the means follow.
In Class 9, Shivika was visiting her aunt in Toronto when she was introduced to the Ekal Vidyalay, an Indian NGO that promotes the education of poor children having donors from across the world. At an age when she should have been gossiping with friends or worrying about exams, young Shivika began her journey into community service. Through joining Ekal Vidyalay, she initiated her efforts in a tiny village called Bhautauli in Falta sector, two hours from her home in Alipore, Kolkata—a journey she would undertake once a month for an entire year. “In order to be there on time, I had to get up at half-past five in the morning so that I could start at six from home. It took me two hours to reach the village. It was my mother who made sure that I was always on time. She would also make sure that food was packed not only for me but the entire group of children who were with me in the project. I know, I could not have done it without my mother’s support.”
The support that Shivika has received from her parents, Priti and Rohit Gupta, as well as her extended family, is nothing short of astounding. It is common for parents to support their children with their educational or career options, but supporting your child’s desire for social work needs a special understanding and empathy, which Shivika has been lucky enough to have. Not only have they provided her with motivation and moral support, but as in the case of her mother, they have rallied around her in her hour of need and contributed in numerous practical ways, as we will see later on too.
The association with Ekal Vidyalay and her involvement with the underprivileged children of Bhautauli gave her valuable first-hand experience in volunteering. Unlike others in the past who may have been working just for obtaining the certification from the organisation, Shivika found the activity changing her at a deeper level. Indeed, her volunteering experience was causing an internal transformation leading to more clarity about the path she wanted to choose in order to achieve her life goal of helping others. Soon, ideas began crystalizing in her mind and the next step became clearer.
As an artistically inclined person from a business family, it was natural that Shivika would think of starting a venture of her own. Combining her inherited business instincts, her aesthetic sense and her desire for community service, Shivika came up with a business idea with a strong social conscience. By this time she was in class 11 and she realised that it would be difficult to manage her venture on her own along with her studies. She began looking for another person who would share her passion for art and have an equally strong urge to help the underprivileged. And that is when she met Madhur Bagaria.
Madhur is Shivika’s classmate at Modern High School. Originally from Asansol, Madhur had studied in boarding school before moving to Kolkata for her plus-two studies. An outgoing, independent personality, Madhur brought a fresh drive, boundless energy and bright ideas to the table and an ability to execute.
Like two peas in a pod, Shivika and Madhur complement each other perfectly. They have developed a close bond and have become a strong team. Together, they have created and given shape to brand Elation under which they design and manufacture tasteful home décor items. These are sold through exhibitions and carnivals.
For sourcing raw material they have chosen the harder way, locating and buying from local shopkeepers and artisans rather than companies like Amazon or Flipkart. For manufacturing, they have decided to work with underprivileged children from a school in Kolkata, supporting the children’s education. With the help of the school authorities at Adarsh Hindi High School in Kalighat, the duo teach children arts & crafts in their spare time. Through training, they have imparted the necessary skills for the children to make these items under their guidance. A large part of the profit is routed back to the school for improvement of infrastructure and fulfilling stationery needs. In December the funds were utilised in arranging a offsite for the kids.So far, about 60 students have benefitted from this initiative.
After the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced in Kolkata, the duo devised other ways to help the needy. They have collaborated with NGO Nirdhan to raise funds for COVID relief work by organising online workshops on cooking, flower making and baking. Shivika’s supportive family stepped in once more, this time with Shivika’s father, a cooking enthusiast, holding online cooking classes—this, despite his stage fright! Shivika and Madhur are also working with another NGO to raise funds for making masks available to the underpriveliged.Now a class 12 student, Shivika aspires to pursue fashion design in London while Madhur plans to do management. They are intent upon taking their good work forward and give back to society as responsible citizens for many years to come. Giving Circle wishes them good luck.
Shivika and Madhur’s Giving Circle is now open!
Shivika and Madhur may have met by chance, but you don’t have to wait for providence to help you meet like-minded individuals like yourself! Giving Circle is a platform that helps you meet more people such as yourself who are motivated by similar causes. Sign up today and start your own Giving Circle or join a Giving Circle and support others in taking their causes forward!