- 5-year-old Aranya has illustrated a book ‘Be calm with coronavirus’
- Through the book, money is being raised to help the poor amid coronavirus
- In over 2 weeks, Rs. 1 lakh has been raised to provide for people in need
New Delhi: The Novel Coronavirus induced lockdown has got the best of us. The uncertain nature of the outbreak has left people wondering about the future. But at the same time, while the privileged have the luxury to stay inside their air conditioned home, with their pantry stocked up, it’s the poor people especially daily wagers and migrant labourers who are left to the mercy of the government and the well to do people. While many of us may choose to ignore the flip side of the coronavirus, 5-year-old Aranya Dutt Bedi who noticed the plight of the poor people decided to act upon it.
The tiny tot, who is already an author of nine books, illustrated a book to raise funds to provide food and hygiene kits for the people in need. Talking to NDTV, Vijay Bedi, Aranya’s father, recalled how his daughter got the idea and said,
We have a government school close by where food distribution takes place on a daily basis. As I along with my daughters stand in the balcony, we see people lining up to get food and the queue gets so long that it reahes all the way to our house. So, Aranya has seen this harsh reality. One day she said, ‘I need to help the poor people because they don’t have any food to eat’ and asked if she can give money from her piggy bank.
Little did Aranya knew that her tiny piggy bank won’t suffice the needs of the people. Having realised that she will need a hefty amount for the noble cause, Aranya decided to write and illustrate a book and raise funds through it.
Aranya who has been drawing ever since she has been 2.5 years old soon sprung up to work and illustrated a story of a girl Tiya who loves to be outdoors, especially during summers when she would go to the park and catch lady bugs but in an ugly turn of events, she has been forced to stay indoors. Through the story of Tiya, Aranya has also highlighted preventive and precautionary measures to protect oneself from contracting the COVID-19.
From practising social distancing, wearing a mask while venturing out, to washing hands for at least 30 seconds and coughing and sneezing etiquettes, the book titled ‘Be calm with coronavirus’ mentions it all. The book also stresses on Tiya making the most of the home quarantine by studying, baking cookies with her mother, learning piano from her teacher on a video call and other things. The book gives the message that one should not consider this lockdown as punishment; in fact, they should keep themselves busy.
Elaborating on how the book is being used to raise funds, Mr Bedi said,
We have partnered with two organisations – UNICEF that provides soap, hand sanitiser and other essentials and The Akshaya Patra Foundation that has been feeding people across India. I have put out all her books on my website and they are available for free download. Whoever enjoys reading ‘Be calm with coronavirus’ can make the donation to either UNICEF or The Akshaya Patra Foundation or both. The donation directly goes to these organisations.
The book was put out on April 18 and in over two weeks, the 5-year-old has raised around Rs. 1 lakh of which Rs. 52,000 have gone to The Akshaya Patra Foundation. According to the NGO, the money can either be used to serve 2,000 meals or provide 61 essential ration kits to the poor. Appreciating Aranya’s initiative, Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, said,
We are delighted, overwhelmed and immensely proud of little Aranya and her amazing act of kindness. She is a sweet young girl with the biggest heart. She is already a hero and a ray of hope in these difficult times, and we are confident she will grow up to do many more remarkable things for the country.
Further talking about how it makes Aranya and him feel, Mr Bedi said,
For Aranya, it’s a huge relief because she thinks she is doing something for the poor. As a parent, for us, it’s a very big deal. I am blessed for her to come out with a book with such a strong message. During the lockdown, a lot of parents are sharing videos of them cooking with their kids. I think we need to go beyond that and educate our children on how sensitive the situation is and the poorest of the poor is suffering the most. The idea is it’s not about a book per se but how an individual thinks. I think we need to make sure that our children understand what poverty is and how difficult it is to live life in a city and at the same time get sensitive towards the situation.
Having achieved this, Aranya plans to illustrate more books and raise as much money as she can and help the people during this time of crisis.