Brides-to-be buy a lot of stuff for their weddings. Most of the time after marriage celebrations are over, the clothes or products brought with much enthusiasm and huge spendings remain either sitting in their chests or collecting dust in their wardrobes for years.
And that is what Dr Nadia Shah and her family bank on.
They reach out to women and solicit their wedding products including clothes, accessories, luggage or other things and then distribute it among those betrothed who cannot afford the same.
With a doctorate degree in English, Nadia works as an assistant professor and is an active social media user. She is also an admin of a well known page on Facebook called as info@srinagar.
Nadia tries to make good use of her social media presence rather than just scrolling down the feed.
She says she was passionate about moving towards positive and the work she is doing is a step in the direction.
"My brother once told me that why don't you utilise your social media aura in a better way."
Nadia gave this a thought and sat with her family including her brother, sister and sister in law to create a “change”.
"We pooled the ideas over what can be done so that somehow we could reach to the underprivileged. We sort of brainstormed until we came up with this idea -- Gift what's Left'.
According to her, women shop a lot for their weddings, but what happens over the time is that the stuff gets accumulated and left unused.
"We even buy things which are used just once, twice or never. But we buy them anyway. We buy lots of clothes which after a year or so get out of fashion or may be due to some fittings change we tuck them away in our suitcases. We thought let's appeal to the women to give away what they do not need anymore .That is how the name, ' Gift what's Left' propped up."
“Gift what's Left” has today grown into a full initiative where in pre-owned wedding dresses like lehengas, gowns; accessories, make up, luggage and whatever a bride needs is provided to those who find it difficult to afford.
This initiative started in December 2020 and since then Nadia and her team has been able to support 20 brides.
"We posted an introductory note on our social media channels with the same name and a whatsapp group as well. We began to appeal to people that some gifts should be given to us. I also provided my contact details and began to receive calls immediately."
The response received was so good that immediately after the first post on social media people began to call her. Friends and acquaintances would tag her in SoS posts – this is how she reached out to her brides to be initially.
Not only did the ladies in Kashmir support Nadia, but the donors from abroad have also joined the fray.
"Ladies from abroad began to send their lehengas, accessories. We even received hair clips and then we began distributing them among the deserving brides."
All the stuff Nadia gets is kept at her own house since she has no office but she has framed an inventory and keeps a record of the things a bride receives or wants.
Nadia says that she encourages the brides to return the stuff after they are done with their seven days. "Sometimes brides want to keep the stuff with them for longer and there are some who don't want to return so we don't force them."
She even receives calls from donors who were willing to give the cash to support a wedding but she discouraged it and instead asked them to buy gifts for brides and send them to her.
Brides, who come to Nadia for help, come with a lot of inhabitation but she tries her utmost to make them comfortable, she remarks.
"See there are brides who don't want their friends and family to know that they are getting some kind of help so they want a one on one transaction with us so they come personally."
Nadia says this initiative is a complete no profit business as her soul motive is to reach out to brides in need.
"Sometimes I personally go to deliver the product to the brides and sometimes we decide on a location whichever way is convenient to both the parties and that is the stands for both brides and donors."
She gets requests from all over Kashmir. Infact her first bride-to-be was from Kulgam who travelled to Srinagar to collect the stuff. Although Nadia had offered to deliver her things at her place, however, overwhelmed by the help she was getting, the bride-to-be refused and said she would collect her things herself from Nadia’s place.
Though Nadia is the face of this initiative, in the backend her sister- in-law and sister are helping her in collecting the stuff, donating it and coordinating with the brides and donors.