The easiest way to get volunteers to work for her non-profit organisation in the far-off mountains of Doda district in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir was through the social media.
Sabbah Haji, a petite young girl, shared her story with an interested audience about how she went back to her ancestral village in Doda and founded a school there.
Started in 2009, the Haji Public School is among the first schools to be opened in Doda and Sabbah says that it is the best in the district.
And within a few minutes of her presentation, it was evident that it must be.
The school does not only give students quality education but also nap time, which Sabbah added, “Students enjoy the most.”
Starting off, Sabbah’s uncle helped her with the finances and still does. But later on, help starting coming from the people she knew through Facebook and Twitter.
Through her Facebook page and tweets on Twitter, Sabbah managed to attract people from within and outside the country who willingly volunteer with their time and at times money. She said tweeting was so far the easiest way to get a response from people, as it reached those you have never even met and yet they volunteered to help.
“The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive as people just keep coming in hordes to help and teach these children who haven’t learned anything before,” she shared with the audience.
For the past 20 or 25 years, Sabbah’s cousins, who grew up with her, went to a school but learnt nothing. A daughter of a teacher, starting this school in her ancestral village was like giving to the kids what they could not receive otherwise.
“We started off by opening up a kindergarten. Then we moved to grade 1 to 3, and God willing, will also start a college and a university as we move on.”
The school is not just about studies though as Sabbah showed pictures of the students making their own portraits as well as singing.
One video that made everyone laugh out loud was in which a group of children from the school sang and performed Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, with “killer expressions”. “The video reached 72,000 hits within a span of one week.”
Among the group was Rubina, an eight-year-old girl, who walks an hour every day to reach her school in Doda.
She knows the way to her school pretty well, but what she does not know is that she is presently a rage on YouTube.
“The kids don’t know what they sang and danced to,” Sabbah shared as the audience enjoyed the video.
With her commendable efforts, there are things she regrets not having - a smooth operating Internet bandwidth.
But after the presentation she showed and her efforts that were quite visible, a lot of people came up to her after the event to give suggestions and offered to volunteer as well.