MFS eighth grader embarks on project to encourage Manthani youth

Sreehita Hajeebu is working on an 18-month project to connect MFS students with children on the other side of the world.

It was a seventh-grade project that set the ball in motion for 13-year-old Moorestown Friends School student Sreehita Hajeebu. Last year, Hajeebu and her fellow seventh graders were tasked with tackling solutions to United Nations Development Goals. Hajeebu’s group took a look at “Global Hunger” using Bangladesh as the country they focused their project around.

Hajeebu said she was taken aback by the statistics. The project made her want to take her solutions from theory to reality. Hajeebu travelled to a rural part of India last summer to put her efforts into practice, and she’s embarking on an 18-month project to connect MFS students with children on the other side of the world.

Over the course of her research, Hajeebu learned one in four Bangladeshis don’t have enough to eat. She said compared to the United States’ hunger data, these statistics were alarming. She said when children go hungry, it affects their ability to succeed.

“Before a child can focus on their education or anything like that they need to have proper food,” Hajeebu said. “If they don’t have any nutritious food, they can’t really focus in school.”

So with a head full of disheartening statistics, Hajeebu decided she was going to help in some small way. During a trip to visit her grandmother, Hajeebu donated her savings to six students attending school in the village of Manthani.

At the school where her grandmother works, Hajeebu gave the six top students 1,000 Rupee each. She encouraged the students to use the money for food, school supplies or whatever they needed to encourage them to stay the course in school.

At the small school, there were no desks, and students either completed their school work on the floor at a bench. Seeing the stark difference in school conditions made Hajeebu more appreciative of her own schooling experience.

“It just made me realize how fortunate we are,” Hajeebu said.

When she returned home, Hajeebu wanted to continue her work with the school, so she applied for the Davidson Institute’s Ambassador Program, a program that gives students guidance and resources as they embark on an 18-month service project. On Monday, Dec. 10, Hajeebu received word that she’d been selected.

Hajeebu’s project will be a continuation of her work to connect with the students in Manthani. She said she wants to connect students at Moorestown Friends School with students in Manthani and foster a pen pal exchange.

From there, she’ll encourage MFS students to donate books, pencils, old iPads and other supplies to help their pen pal counterparts work more efficiently. She said she hopes that by talking to MFS students, the correspondence will encourage students in Manthani to continue pursuing their education .

From building a website to learning the logistics of shipping supplies, Hajeebu admits she has a lot to learn in the next 18 months, but she’s looking forward to getting started.