Anishka Perera, 13, of Torrington, Conn., an eighth-grader at Talcott Mountain Academy of Science, Mathematics & Technology, collected supplies to make 150 entertainment packages to brighten the days of children undergoing treatment for cancer in a Sri Lankan hospital. During a 2016 visit to Sri Lanka, where his parents were born, Anishka visited a government-run hospital that provides free care for the country’s poor. In the children’s ward, he noticed that there weren’t many things to keep young patients entertained during long hospital stays. “I was saddened to see children waiting around for their treatment without much to occupy them,” said Anishka.
When he returned home, Anishka began asking friends and acquaintances for donations of items such as coloring books, crayons, pencils, puzzles, board games and Play-Doh. Once the donations started coming in, Anishka categorized them by age level and started assembling his packages with the help of volunteers. Last August, he shipped the packages to Sri Lanka and then traveled again to the cancer hospital to distribute them. When he returned home, he posted a video on his website to update the more than 100 donors and volunteers who had participated in his project. Anishka said he plans on delivering more entertainment packages and would like to take on more projects to help sick children in Sri Lanka. “Certain things we consider to be basic things are luxuries for others,” said Anishka. “Some of these kids had never even owned a pack of crayons!”