Saturday, Sep 23, 2017 | Last Update : 12:34 AM IST

Spreading joy with toys

THE ASIAN AGE. | SURIDHI SHARMA
Published : Jun 20, 2017, 12:14 am IST
Updated : Jun 21, 2017, 6:22 pm IST

A toy is seen as an item of luxury but toys play an important part in the development and growth of a child.

Vidyun Goel with children in a village in Uttarakhand.
 Vidyun Goel with children in a village in Uttarakhand.

Vidyun Goel spreads smiles by repairing  old toys and sharing them with underprivileged kids through The Toy Bank, and has also helped build small libraries and toy centers in many villages.

How often have you opened your cupboard to feel that there are not enough clothes in the wardrobe and you need to go shopping? It is not very different from the time when one needed more toys and stationery items or storybooks and demanded new ones. As a privileged child, one rarely thinks about class differences or overlooks them. On the other hand a single old toy might be too precious for an underprivileged child.

But an NGO, The Toy Bank, is attempting to change that. “It is very common for households to have old toys lying forgotten in their store rooms. But somehow very few people share or donate these. Even when we go for collection drives in private schools, children donate toys that are broken or very old. I often ask these kids what their favourite toy is. The answer is often Lego. But when you see the donated toys, it is never a game of Lego. I ask them why is it so and that starts a conversation about class differences. We make these kids sort the donated toys and they realise how most of these are broken. They realise a lot about class differences through this exercise,” shares Vidyun Goel, founder of The Toy Bank, adding, “A toy is seen as an item of luxury or something for leisure time but toys play an important part in the development and growth of a child.”

The NGO started when Vidyun was 16, “Everything starts from home and this started as a passion of mine,” she explains. Vidyun was a finance and strategy expert at a corporate house. She self-funded the NGO for years before quitting her job in 2015 to work full-time for the cause. The NGO collects, segregates, repairs and sends toys to several centers across India.

Today the NGO has expanded to many towns and villages in India. The 30-year-old says, “When we go to donate these toys to underprivileged children, the reactions are very different. Once we went to an aanganwadi in a village and the kids came with bowls for meals. Essentially, that is what an aanganwadi means to these children, a place serving lunch.”

The social worker says, “I can’t stop feeling guilty about the gap in our society between the haves and have nots. Even in the social sector, everything is about numbers and competition. It is the sad truth of our society.”

The NGO has helped build small libraries and toy centers in many villages, “Adjacent villages too want these in their respective areas as people realise the importance of these centers,” says Vidyun.

The NGO will soon be sending out 100 boxes filled with toys to six states — Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa, Bihar and Delhi/NCR to help create approximately 72 libraries across these states.

Toys can be donated at http://www.toybank.in/

Tags: ngo, wardrobe, underprivileged child, vidyun goel