The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Little crusaders for a better tomorrow

The battle to better Calcutta lost a young crusader last December.

Mansingh Hoo was on his way to a meeting at an eye hospital to organise free cataract operations. He and his friends at Future Hope were fighting to restore sight to blind slum-dwellers.

Mansingh never made it to the meeting. At Ballygunge Phari, he was run over by a bus.

But hope triumphed on Saturday. In memory of Mansingh, adults said “thank you” to the children of Calcutta — students, leaders, just like the young hero — for the work they did for the city, at the award show for the Better Calcutta Contest. But it was not the beginning, nor the end, of the crusade around 40 city schools have embarked on.

Held at Science City, the annual ceremony recognised social initiatives of students through a contest conducted by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Calcutta Foundation, supported by Britannia and The Telegraph.

From educating the underprivileged to cleaning the streets, combating malaria to battling child labour, these children — from tiny tots to high school students — strive to champion every cause.

For its continued efforts to get children off the streets and into schools, Loreto Day School, Sealdah, won The Telegraph Trophy for Social Excellence. A project to identify and educate “hidden domestic child labourers” received special mention. Aditya Academy and GD Birla Centre for Education came second and third, respectively.

The Britannia Trophy for Healthy Living went to Chowringhee Kindergarten and High School for its year-round campaigns, including cleanliness drives and traffic safety, malaria prevention and heart disease detection. Carmel Primary School stood second, while Future Hope and St Joseph’s and Mary ranked third. The ICC Calcutta Foundation announced it would adopt Future Hope’s cataract project, which Mansingh had been a part of.

Four schools — Army Public School, Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Modernland Girls High School and St Augustine’s Day School — shared the ICC Trophy for Commendable Performance. Dishari, Joyland and Prerna Montessoris and Prem-E-Asha and NECSW-Shiksha received special awards.

“Use your assets, whatever they are, to make things better,” was what Victor Banerjee, keynote speaker, had to say to the young crowd.

A tiny girl, fingers in her mouth, baby pink dress bouncing, toddled across stage to accept an award on behalf of the brave young warriors at her playhouse… The message was clear, the war was on.

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