Published: 30th July 2019
Meet the 'Smile Makers', an NGO run by the students of CUSAT that takes up various social activities
Founded in 2016, the number of members, including volunteers, has reached 102, said Sanoob Sidiq, founder and president of the NGO
Nothing brings satisfaction than triggering a smile on a tired, weary face and this is what a group of students, both present and alumni, of Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) have been doing for the past three years. They have formed an NGO 'Smile Makers', which undertakes various social activities.
Founded in 2016, the number of members, including volunteers, has reached 102, said Sanoob Sidiq, founder and president of the NGO. According to him, the trigger that led to the founding of Smile Makers was a teacher's advice. "I wanted to do something different. While I was deliberating on it, I happened to talk to Renjini D, associate professor, Deen Dayal Upadhaya Kaushal Kendra, who was then with the Business School of the university," said Sanoob.
"She asked me, 'Why don't you start an NGO?'," he said. That set the ball rolling. Sanoob, who is a stockbroker today, was an MBA student at Cusat from 2014 to 16. "The work for the NGO began in 2016. Initially, we thought fund might become a major factor for the successful running of the NGO," he said. However, Sanoob and his fellow Smile Makers realised that funds don't matter.
"What we needed was members and volunteers! We did a membership drive inside the campus and were able to rope in many students. People make a difference," he said. According to him, the very first initiative undertaken by the NGO was a tough one. "When Ockhi destroyed the coastal hamlets, we offered them our services and helped them in every possible way," he said.
After that, Smile Makers began spreading happiness by taking up social causes in an ad hoc manner. "Till date, we have undertaken seven social activities after Ockhi. The August flood was even the worst. It tried our stamina and presence of mind," he said. As for the funds, the NGO depends on crowdfunding.
"Whenever we took up an initiative, Cusat students and teachers have always opened their purse strings without any hesitation. We issue a plea and get an instant response!," said Sanoob. The big-heart and the zeal to help in a social cause became evident recently when the students came together to set up community libraries in a tribal hamlet in Vazhachal.
"The initiative was undertaken after we came to know that the children in the village have no means to augment their knowledge. It was a two-week drive and we collected around 1,000 books. The books were contributed by students belonging to the NGO and also those from outside," said Sanoob. As part of continuing with their social work, the Smile Makers will be launching a drive against the use of plastic. "We are going in for a total ban on plastic bags on the campus. The drive will be organised next week," he added.