Published on March 30th, 2014 | by Jehan Raffiuddin
FAB WOMAN: Shweta Chari
Founder and CEO of Toybank, meet Shweta Chari, who started her journey with a small idea – to place a toy in the hands of every child, Today Toybank is present in 6 cities, impacting the lives of over 70,000 children. Read on to find out what motivates this dynamic social entrepreneur.
Shweta Chari an Electronic Engineer, began her journey at the age of 21 on August 15th, 2004 with a small idea. India of her dreams is one where every child is happy, owns a toy and has a beautiful childhood. In India, due to the large population, Shweta believes there are many children that live invisible lives, who go completely unnoticed by society; whether they live or die, it hardly matters because there are so many of them. This cold attitude is what shook her as she grew up. She felt the need to do something for the kids she saw going on with their lives without a childhood. This was what lead her to start Toybank – a place that helps children have a childhood they were born to have. Toybank provides the underprivileged with toys because they have a ‘Right to play’. It bridges the gap between the rich and the poor by collecting toys from those who can afford it to distributing it to those who can’t afford it. Over the years Toybank has gathered momentum with the help and support of friends and volunteers from all corners of Bombay. Within a short span of time and with very minimal resources, Toybank is bringing smiles on thousands of deprived faces. In a way Toybank attempts to prove the belief of John.F.Kennedy, SeIf the free society cannot help the many that are poor, it can never save the few who are rich. Toys help shape the psyche of the children, so utmost care is taken to give only unbiased and morally correct toys to children. Toybank does not take Barbie dolls; toy guns; violent toys or any other toy that discriminates. Through the years, toys were collected, segregated and gift-wrapped and then gifted on a one-on-one basis to the kids from all over Bombay, Shweta soon realized that the beneficiaries of toys were impacted much beyond her expectation. The children began to recognise that play was one of their core rights. They also began expressing themselves better and were more in tune with their lives and circumstances. Shweta felt the need to expand and reach out to many more children in India. With the help of volunteers Toybank also started monitoring the children that were impacted through the Toybank activities. The events became more intense with more focus given to value education.
Shweta believes that it’s easier ‘to do’ than to just talk about change. All through the years of Toybanking, Shweta has witnessed how beautifully, goodness spreads and catches up with anyone and everyone that gets involved. To her that is success. Shweta is one of those individuals that has come with a focus to work towards development of the world. In the many years of intense work Toybank is now being noticed by the society. Toybank’s work has spread far and wide across Urban and Rural India and has impacted the lives of over 70,000 kids which includes kids from Bhutan as well! Her biggest success was educating the masses about the ‘Right to play’, which is a difficult concept to work around in India. Shweta also tells us it was one of her biggest challenges while starting up Toybank. To Shweta the Right to Play stands for freedom and for happier growing memories. Toybank strives to attain both of this, through all its initiatives.
The FAB BAG crew got talking to Shweta and we’re so excited to share parts of our conversation with her
FAB BAG: What motivates you?
Shweta: What drives me is living a life that impacts lives around me.
FAB BAG: How would you define happiness?
Shweta: Happiness is a calm state of mind where you don’t need a person, thing or feeling to make you happy.
FAB BAG: One quote you live by?
Shweta: Live and let live.
FAB BAG: If money could buy happiness what would you spend it on?
Shweta: I believe money and happiness don’t go together. No money = lots of happiness
FAB BAG: Your idea of a perfect getaway?
Shweta: Beaches and isolation
FAB BAG: One message you’d like to give our members?
Shweta: Each of us have the power to impact someone or the other. If everyone respects this and does something the world would be a much better place.
Here’s a video featuring Shweta Chari by Times Now, to understand Toybank better.
Parting Shot: Very few people today would have the guts to quit their corporate jobs to serve society. It is these young change makers that help make the world a better place. Hats off to Shweta, who started a revolution, one that brings a smile on the face of countless children. To all those reading this story, we have one message for you, ” There is nothing more powerful than an idea that has been executed to bring in social change“
The *FAB* Women initiative by FabBag.com celebrates the occasion of Women’s Day all through the month of March with an aim to inspire women across the country by sharing stories of ordinary women with extraordinary lives. If you liked reading Shweta’s story, please leave a comment below and share this article. It’s now your turn to spread the inspiration.