Kshirja Raje is not your usual 13-year-old. While kids her age will mostly be celebrating Diwali with their friends, bursting crackers and lighting diyas, Kshirja will be conducting a workshop for underprivileged kids at the Tata Memorial hospital, teaching them to make handicrafts.
In a heartwarming story, captured in the Humans of Bombay Facebook page, Kshirja speaks about how she tries to make Diwali special, every year, for street children.
"I'm 13 right now and I hope that every Diwali I can add a little more light, and bring a few more smiles," she says.
Kshirja is trying to achieve this by selling lanterns and other handicraft products that she makes.
It all started when, one day. she was being fussy about the food prepared at home. Her mother then took Kshirja to the slum neighbourhood behind their house.
"I saw little children, my age, maybe younger running towards a truck of food that distributed food to them every Sunday," she recalls. "I was left in tears — they didn't even know if they would get to eat for days and here I was complaining."
The incident made her "desperate" to help these kids.
Soon, an idea occurred to her. She started making lanterns and selling them for ₹5 to her relatives and neighbours. Her mother began selling them to her colleagues. A couple of weeks later, she saved enough to buy all the children sweets for Diwali.
"I don't know what it was, but seeing those children devour sweets that we take for granted made my Diwali more than special," she says. Soon, Kshirja also started making dolls, envelopes and other handicraft products.
Now Kshirja has a collection of 270 Quilling 3D dolls in different themes. And, she has done all this without any formal training.
Three years ago, Kshirja's mother was diagnosed with cancer.
"She told me we were so lucky that we could afford the best treatment for her, and there were so many others who weren't as fortunate," she recollects. "That was the second time when I felt gratitude but helplessness at the same time."
That year, she collected ₹30,000 for cancer patients, selling handicraft objects.
"Kshirja is my strength and because of her prayers and care, I could fight cancer and now I am able to share the word of awareness to Indian women who neglect their health," her mother, Ujwala Raje says.
Kshirja's dreams don't end here.
"Hopefully the day will come where no child goes to sleep hungry and everyone can afford medical treatments — I'm going to try and give it my all...and that's all we can do for now," she says.
What an inspiration.
Read the Facebook post of Humans Of Bombay here.
Also see on HuffPost: