‘Normalize Kindness’

Under the campaign, 27 phones have been distributed to students in need from May 2021 till date.

Under the campaign, 27 phones have been distributed to students in need from May 2021 till date.

A teacher’s campaign to provide smartphones to students in Nagaland

Kanili Kiho
Dimapur | June 10

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, procurement of essential commodity was a concern.

However, Sentikala M Lemtur, a young teacher had a different kind of worry. With onset of the pandemic and the beginning of online classes, she saw that many families did not own even a single smartphone.

That is when reality hit home for her. Having a heart for children, Lemtur decided that “they do not deserve it. It is not their fault that the pandemic had happen, and that they were born in a poor family. It is not their choice.”

So on May 12, 2020 Lemtur put a message on her social media accounts, “…If anybody has an extra smartphone, I’d love to pick it up from your home and give it to children in need.”

The Morung Express on May 19, 2020 first carried a report on her venture, which has now become a crowdfunding campaign. “The initial thing was only to donate hand-me-down used smartphones. It was nothing about crowdfunding,” she said.

In 2020, from May to November, a total of 27 phones were provided to students in need. An amount of more than Rs 1 lakh 40 thousand came in, she said while adding, “It is amazing. I cried in the middle of my calculation. I felt God was reminding me that there are still good people in this world doing so many things undercover. There were so many anonymous donors,” she said. “These donors really inspired me,” she added.

In 2021, as schools reopened on alternate days, Lemtur felt that the pandemic was over. But then, it was far from over, as the second wave happened.

On May 25, she received news that a Naga student Dimapur needed help. The student had reportedly been walking from 3rd Mile to Naharbari to her cousin’s house, just to take notes.

Lemtur decided to put the message across and see if any help would come. People started responding, and then more names came in for children in need of smartphones.

From May 2021 till date, the campaign has collected around Rs 1 lakh 20 thousand and 27 phones have been distributed. She could also provide five new phones to students even in Mon district. Lemtur informed that more phones are on the way.

A friend to the rescue
Meanwhile, a friend of Lemtur, Sweety Kashung Shimray who is pursuing her master’s degree in Italy has also started a fundraiser through Milaap, a crowdfunding website that enables anyone across India to raise funds for a cause. At present, it has raised around 60k for the less privileged students in Nagaland. “It has made my work so easy,” Lemtur shared.

She also expressed gratitude to ALFY, a delivery agency who stepped in and offered to deliver all the phones for free in Dimapur. “Again, work made easy,” Lemtur quipped, while adding, “Because I am a teacher, I have to be home for class, and cannot be out all the time.”

She further acknowledged the donors, well-wishers, pastors and members of The Lighthouse Church “who have been my backbone from the beginning.” Not to create any disorder, she makes sure to post the list of money that comes in on her Instagram account. “With crowdfunding, I have to be accountable. It is a team work,” she said.

Normalise kindness
“It is my deep desire to see kindness being normalised. It should be like a normal culture... We should normalize kindness,” Lemtur reasoned. 

“If every neighbour sees a need of their own neighbour; if every relative, cousin sees the need of their own relatives and cousins, then I would not have done this campaign. Those people would not need me or the donors,” she said.

Lemtur further put across that when one does acts of kindness, they should not let the receiver feel they are any lesser. “We should always ask permission. When I call the parents, I ask permission, “Can I give?” So that they do not feel like they are lesser than us. No, we don’t want them to feel that way.”

Lemtur currently works at The Builders, where they teach students life skills, emotional intelligence and counsel students. She plans on continuing this campaign.

Meanwhile, Lemtur informed that one can directly contact her through her Instagram account- @sentiaka_lemtur if they know of students needing help, along with the details of the school and class.

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