The School’s motto ‘Deo, Dante, Dedi’ (God having given, I gave) has been embodied by the inspirational work of three 2018 leavers: Samridh Seth, Birkamjeet Chadha and Jai Bhagat.
Having seen first hand the conditions of children living in poverty in shanty towns in India, all three boys felt a desire to do something to help. The stark contrast they saw with our own lives at Charterhouse made this feel all the more urgent. They embarked upon a project which would see them having to learn the skills of setting up a charity, coordinating large-scale laundry activities and understanding the legal issues surrounding international exports and imports.
The boys named their charity ‘Vastra’ – meaning ‘clothes’ in Hindi. Over a twelve month period they collected second-hand clothes across the school – items that were good quality but no longer needed by pupils and staff. Large black plastic boxes began appearing around school and were filled more quickly than the boys could collect them. The School’s extraordinaty laundry team made sure they were freshly washed and folded ready for their new owners. The boys then had to pack them, negotiate a transportation agreement with a haulage firm and draw up an export inventory to ensure the clothes could reach the children who needed them.
Many of us would have stumbled at any one of these hurdles, and the clothes may have spent the rest of their days languishing in boxes in the Old Headmaster’s House garage. However, these three boys displayed extraordinary determination and perseverance.
During July 2018, Samridh Seth saw their dream finally realized and the following is his account:
“I have just returned from my trip to Suyam Trust in Chennai, India, where the directors of Suyam, Mr Muthuram, Mrs Uma and I distributed the clothes to all the children under the education and shelter of Suyam and to an additional 200 families in a remote village 4 hours away from the city centre, on behalf of the Vastra Initiative.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life as I witnessed the genuine and grateful smiles on the children’s and their families’ faces.
Thank you very much to the whole Charterhouse community for all your help with the start of such a wonderful initiative and for the guidance to collect such a large number of clothes, which would actually make a difference to hundreds of people in remote locations in the world, where they don’t even have electricity, clean water or clean clothes to wear.”