What is Lets Go Shopping?
Lets Go Shopping is an initiative where by aasmaan foundation where they gift 650+ underprivileged kids insurmountable amount of happiness by setting up a pretend shopping markets and gives the fake money to shop; but a sense of ownership. They buy gifts for themselves as well as their families.
Being a part of the aasmaan family and one of member of managing time for Lets Go Shopping, here is the story behind the huge event and the experience that I will carry with me.
40 days, NGO collaborations, food partners, chief guests, printing partner, hospitality partner and what so much more. Everything was new, every planning that I was observing with curiosity was like a new born baby seeing things for the first time. My Mind was constantly working and telling me this is what we call as planning. Meanwhile a voice came from the side,” Vyom NGO collaborations are in your hands”. I was not sure about my work progress. I wanted to say no for that moment but , i don’t know, something inside me was not able to tell it because somewhere deep down I wanted to do it. 10 days 600 kids 10 contacts. I had a word with event head. He explained to me why I was entrusted with the responsibility.
Planning is what anyone needs for every department he/she undertakes. That is exactly what I did. I had 2 persons to help me out. One did all the calls and the meeting portion and the rest was completed by me. The days were passing like minutes, the work was not going anywhere. It was like the stack of files piling up in the government offices. And finally after 7 days 600 kids were done by collaborating with 6 partner NGOs. The thing I learned the most was their models and how they work. It was an experience that will help in my teaching project. Apart from it the other best thing that happened was meeting the founder of shwash. Talking with her made perfect sense in every aspect because she is always ready to help, to make things happen and now I get it why this department was given to me.
20 days left for the event:
The hall was not decided. The food management was yet to be planned. The collection drive was on hold. Festive mode was on. Things were going a bit out of control. Yes but the contacts always seem to help. I will always thank the owner of Platted for giving the food for 700 kids without even thinking twice and even the PR department guy who worked at his best. Coming back to the event head, no doubt he is the best we can get when it comes to corporate or the sponsors thing. Printing media was done, plus some donations of huge amount. That made things easy.
10 days left for the event.
The LGS leads were dissolving, miscommunications were happening. But each and every individual of managing team was working. So we were done with kids, the food partner, the media and things left was collection, the hall and hospitality. For me the concern was the collection. Navratri was over. The things were going slow. We just did the collection sufficient for 100 kids. The heads were changed. Decisions were taken. Planning was done. 5 places at a time were covered. The soul started running. I started running. “The event should be successful” that was the only vision of every person. The collection drive was the most amazing experience I can ever have in my life.
Going to each and every door of house and explaining them, telling them was fun. You can see the various mindsets of people. Some will welcome us with a smile. Some will listen to us like they are so grateful to us by listening to us. Some will just simply close the door. Some of them will investigate. It was always a task when we ring the door bell of some advocate, collector or a government officer’s flat. People always think we need financial help but I don’t know why. We are here not for money or anything. We are just here to take your old things. Why money is taking place of everything one could ask for is a mystery.
The mindset of the people for the social cause was easily visible. The good thing was out of all the places I went, I find 15-20 percent of people genuinely doing it. They were altruistic in their own sense. The worst thing I noticed in the eyes of the people was the fear. Many of them thought and asked you are not a part of any bogus NGO or money making thing. They confirmed. They cross checked. Many flats refused for permission was because of this thing. I can never find that fear logical but there has to be a reason for this and there has to be solution for this. The other thing I noticed was laziness to not to do things which was of no concern to them. So things were definitely not easy. Collection drive was an experience that helped us to know about social awareness, mindset of our people and the work which we are actually doing.
6 days before the event.
The Narottamdas Zaveri hall was decided. The sorting was about to start from that day. The sorting place was decided. Collection was more than enough and it was still coming. Aasmaanites were bit relaxed. The sorting place had its own beauty. It was a bungalow, a rare piece of architecture made with red bricks which seemed to define the soul of the owner.
Sorting started. There were clothes, toys, accessories, games, soft toys and what not. More than 15 categories. Bags and bags coming. Volunteers doing it very enthusiastically. Aasmaanites were coming and going. Some were constant. There was a light atmosphere, laughter shared, ice breaking sessions for some who came for first time. Music added the remaining flavour of spice. From afternoon 1 to night 11 it was going on. Cartons were brought, filled and placed. The photographer cum videographer was making his script on the other end. The sorting created the atmosphere for LGS.
The event flow was almost done. Transport done and avalon was the hospitality partner.
5 days before the event:
“Hey, I am Vyom speaking from aasmaan foundation, I will need the list of 300 kids for Let’s Go Shopping.”
“Sorry Vyom we had our event postponed on sunday so we wont be able to give our kids for event”, he replied. That moment was like RIP Vyom Desai. Event with 300 kids wont set any standards. And I got a text from founder telling,” we need 350 to 400 kids very urgently, I am trying on my side and you do on your side”. Everyone, the founder, my team got back running to work and in one day 350 kids with 6 partner NGOs were done. It would have never been possible without VIRAL.
3 days left for the event.
Event day volunteer allocation. Vyom Desai head of transport. By the end of the day the transport partner refused. I was like why does all my responsibilities get screwed up?. 2 hours and transport was done.
The sorting was done, 200+ cartons, more than enough stuff for 700 kids to shop. Event flow was ready. People were relaxed a bit. A proud moment for each one us to complete sorting in just 4 days. It was a great team work.
2 days before the event:
The 30 foot long banner of Let’s Go Shopping has been displayed and a picture with it was the real feel that yes just 2 days left. Decoration work started. The creative minds, the hands didn’t stop, the pencils were going sharp on edges, the brushes were painting red. The plastic money was In designing and printing process.
Managing team were being called to give update about their work. Work allocation and remaining work was being told and after it a tea break. Evening tea was seriously like bae.
Everyone around was working at that moment except me. I was just sleeping in the garden gazing at the stars and wondering about deep secrets of life, the humans and the universe. Sky is the only limit for this event that is what was running through the mind. The event head accompanied me to it. We shared philosophies, the work we did for the event, what we want from life and lot more.
1 day before the event:
The most exciting, the most adventurous days one can ever have is the day before the event. The truck came, chain formed, gentlemen pull up your sleeves manhood is going to be tested. The passing of cartons was started. One done,second done, 50 th done and it was just going and going. Some of them were shouting,”Mota aap,mota aap”. The mood was light, though tiring and meanwhile the truck was filled with all those brown boxes and our aasmanites were drained in enthusiastic atmosphere. No one realized how much toll it will take after the second round. The same process repeated with more energy and in an hour or two 200 cartons were shifted. After that some nicotex,7 to 8 teas and Rahul was like,” you are so habituated to kick”.
Tables were ready, the boards were on the walls, cartons on place and event preparations were almost done.
The general meet started. Each one of them were explained their roles. The event flow was explained and everything was set. The only thing left was fixing the 30 feet flex on wall and that too with the double tape. Manush and I were like it is not possible and rather than helping sitting hopelessly. In the end it was done.
The bus saga:
At 11:00 night before the event day,” hey Vyom, sorry the bus transport is not possible”. Everyone started running. Shaival went for finding new. In half an hour Saif did it. And in the next half an hour it got cancelled. Finally at 12:30 it was done.
The event day(THE BIG DAY/JUDGEMENT DAY):
Finally the time has arrived. Seeing Anand on the event day was a pure bliss. shenanigans ready, decorations done, event flow in everyone’s hand, head’s ready, shopkeepers ready, food arrived and at 8 bus 1 arrived. The shopping started with a bang. Food was all served. Activity made kids dance. The paper dance they did was the best piece of innocence one can ever watch. Smiles spread, hearts touched.
The kids didn’t stop from coming, the buses were going and arriving, we were running before time. This made enthusiasm go double. Water jugs were getting empty like dust slipping from hand. Time was flying. Shopkeepers like standing on their stall shouting come here. The whole arena turned into something we call as a market of city area.
The best thing about the event was to observe the kids, their manners and how well their teachers taught. Every kid reciting prayer before taking the food. Telling us thankyou for everything. Hugging the mentors clicking photos with them. Wishing goodbye in such a manner that they will meet soon. Meanwhile I went to see the activity things and one of kids just came running and hugged me. I was mesmerized for that very moment. Haresh remembered me. The kid with whom I got attached at the time of sports day. I was so happy because not being so popular mentor among kids and being a strict mentor I was not expecting this. But yes this is beauty of their innocence that motivates you being a teacher.
400 kids shopped happily till afternoon and we were still one and half hour before time. Volunteers exhausted a bit. But that food from avalon was enough to recuperate their energy. Within no time the break got over and it was one more session of making happiness contagious.
Happiness is you coming on radio for telling the work you did and being appreciated for it. Happiness was like telling the number of kids we have reached. Happiness was seeing the same enthusiasm again.
Finally at 7 last batch departed. Volunteers celebrated. We were before time. People just swept the floors with every pin point fun one can with broom. The cartons were thrown like pillows on one another and every one was smiling, hugging each other and celebrating we did it. At that very moment I was standing at the one side of hall looking at the kids departing, the hall and the image of myself. There were no volunteers just me and the event and the satisfaction I got after every hardwork possible. I bursted out, controlled myself got back to normal, started celebrating.
Finally the time to say goodbye. The appreciation I got was the best thing for me. Sir, it was nice working with you. Vyom the work you did was tremendous. Hats off to you Vyom. It wont have been possible without you. Great work, we enjoyed. You are a true inspiration. This thing matters. Being an individualist no one ever said me this things. But what mattered the most was Anand asking me to come on side and hugs me telling,”well done dost”. It was amazing. That was it. That was the end. The end like never before and only one of its kind.
So finally now there wont be last minutes changes there wont be any calls for collection, there wont be any chains to shift the goods. The sorting place will be missed. To all those weird things people gave will be remembered. The reason will be missed. There wont be any toys. There wont be any clashes. But until the next year and we will be back.
This was Let’s Go Shopping 3.0.
Grand, a benchmark to aasmaan and the soul to me.