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15-year-old Aditya Birla school student uses social media to raise Rs10 lakh for charity

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 - 7:08am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

15-year-old Aditya Birla school student uses social media to pull in money for poor in rural areas.

People who think social media is only about wars of words between politicians and poking fun at celebrities are in for a pleasant surprise.

Meera Mehta, a student of Aditya Birla World Academy School, has collected  Rs10 lakh for the Mumbai Marathon, through social media platforms. The amount will go to a non-government organisation (NGO) Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care, which does social work for patients and rural children.

This marks the first time, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been used to raise money for the grand event. But Mehta, who has been an active participant and fundraiser for the marathon, says it would not have been possible without the support of her mentor Pujya Gurudev Shri Rakesh Bhai of Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care.

It helped that she attended a California summer school in 2012, making friends from all over the world. Her relatives too lent their support and one of them, Trishna Patel – a journalist with Los Angeles Times, has flown down to participate in  the marathon.

So how did this online miracle unfold? “I posted my NGO’s goals and achievements on social media sites and wrote an appeal. I pointed out what exactly it is doing along with its plans and how it needs funds to make this world better,” asserted the 15-year-old, who redefined the word twitterati by her actions.

Mehta started running the marathon since 2011, but the idea of collecting funds dawned on her from 2012. She has been doing it throughout the year and the process for this year started right after the day of closure of the 2013 event.

“There were lots of pictures and Instagram ensures they look even better when I post them. We (the NGO) have a Viklang Centre (health care centre for people with disabilities) which has cured many patients. I posted the photo of a boy who had cerebral palsy and was cured in our centre,” she said.

One of the NGO’s hospitals in Dharampur, which often carries out surgeries, has received a national award for its work.

Talking about how the transaction took place, she said: “All the dreamteamers (those who raise funds) have their own page in unitedwaymumbai.org where they can write an appeal. There is a donate button and the whole transaction is online.”

But how did she handle money matters in the last two years? Well, though she is young, she never had a fascination for gifts and presents. “I sacrificed my birthday presents and other gifts on special occasions. I used to ask my relatives and friends to give me money instead of buying me gifts. My mother is a doctor and her patients used to help me too,” she said.

Mehta has received most donations through friends in the USA and China.

“There will be 750 of us running the marathon this time. The funds will go to Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care. There are 10 care centres that see to the community, animal welfare and the environment. Donors are free to decide where they want to donate,” she said. The entries for this year’s marathon is open till mid-February.

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