At a young age of 12, Nikhiya Shamsher observed that there are many children who do not have access to basic school supplies.
Entire classrooms of 40-50 children often share just a single textbook, and many walk barefoot to school. Uniforms, pens, paints, crayons and even school bags are considered a luxury. Nikhiya saw an opportunity to make a difference for these children and in January 2015, she launched ‘Bags, Books and Blessings campaign’. This is an initiative taken by her to provide schools and students in dire necessity of these simple things.
At 12, Nikhiya has spearheaded campaigns like ‘Bags, Books and Blessings’ and ‘Yearn to Learn Labs’. She set up the NGO to ensure that every child has equal opportunities to learn and become successful in life and be provided with basic necessities.This campaign is in its third year and had helped over 6500 students in various schools.
Recently, she received ‘The Diana Legacy Award’ from The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and Prince of Wales, Prince Harry for her exemplary achievement of providing quality education to the underprivileged. She was awarded at a grand event at St. James Palace in London recently and was the only Indian to win the award from amongst 12000 nominations received from all over the world.
The prestigious ‘The Diana Legacy Award’ celebrates the achievements of outstanding young leaders, visionaries and role models from across the world who are selflessly transforming the lives of others, as Princess Diana believed they could. The Award celebrates Princess Diana’s legacy in the 20th Anniversary year and inspires a new generation of young people to serve their communities.
While Nikhiya was interacting with these schools she realized that there were students who weren’t receiving a quality education and had no access to laboratories or experimental learning. This led her to initiate another program called ‘Yearn to Learn’ in June 2015. Under this initiative, she opened free Science and Math labs in schools and colleges that don’t have the infrastructure or the facility of any lab. ‘Yearn to Learn’ initiative has set up 15 laboratories which have served 3500 students from various schools.
This initiative has sponsored the school and college level education of 25 visually impaired children. In January 2017, she launched an e-commerce website called ‘knicnacs.com’. The sole purpose of this website is to raise funds to sustain the activities of ‘Bags, Books and Blessings’ and ‘Yearn to Learn’. The website sells quirky & unique gifting products. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these products are directed to fund her initiatives.
In addition to the Diana Legacy Award, Nikhiya’s photo with information on her projects and services have been hosted at an exhibition at Althorp House, the family home of the Spencer’s and the final place of resting of Princess Diana.
Nikhiya based out of Bengaluru, has many laurels to her name including, a Gold medal with the stature of ‘National Honoree’ at the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards 2016 at New Delhi. As a ‘National Honoree’, Nikhiya was invited to Washington D.C to represent India in the felicitation events for Spirit Honorees from participating countries all over the world and to visit U.S Senators on Capitol Hill in May 2016.
She was also chosen as the Global Winner of the Outstanding Youth Economic Citizenship Award 2017. She was given the High Honors Certificate and an Award Pin from The Johns Hopkins University, USA. She was given the “Makkala Pratibha Puraskara Prashasthi” in 2016 by Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Karnataka and many more.
For her Entrepreneur skills, Nikhiya has been chosen as the Global Winner of the Outstanding Youth Economic Citizenship Award 2017. She was invited to attend The Global Inclusion Awards Ceremony hosted by the German G20 Presidency and Child and Youth Finance International at Berlin, Germany on 3rd May 2017.