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Chess Without Borders, a Barrington-based non-profit chess and charitable organization, recently hosted its sixth annual chess tournament benefiting Meher, a nine year-old girl who lives in the Govindpuri slum in New Delhi, India. Over 135 players of all ages competed in the tournament, which raised over $7000.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used to aid Meher and to increase offerings at the Maggie Gruber Computer Center, also in New Delhi.
A Little Girl in Need
When hundreds of chess players, volunteers, and supporters flocked to Hough Street School on Saturday, February 22, it wasn’t just about chess. The stakes were certainly high for the chess players, who came from Barrington schools and far beyond. Anxious players awaited the competition (my own son among them, nervous for his first chess tournament), hoping they would prove worthy opponents. But even the youngest were aware that, win or lose, they would contribute to a very important cause.
Nina Sethi, sister of Chess Without Borders founder, Rishi Sethi, lived in New Delhi from 2008-2009, working for Project Why as an English teacher. Nina had already partnered with Chess Without Borders to establish a chess program in the slum where she worked, but as it turned out her work there was just beginning.
She was at the organization’s Women’s Centere when little Meher began running in each day. “She always had to inspect the new people, so she was coming to check me out,” Nina says.
Meher’s sparkling eyes and outgoing personality made her hard to overlook. Nina knew immediately that she would do whatever she could to secure a better future for the sweet little girl.
Meher was just an infant when the mosquito net over her bed caught on fire. Miraculously, she survived the terrible burns, but the experience left her face and scalp badly scarred and her fingers fused. Meher’s parents feared for her future; the prospects for a disabled girl in India were glum. Nina learned they could not afford the multiple surgeries required to help their daughter.
“I immediately started communicating with my mother [Dr. Kiran Frey, Director of Volunteers at Chess Without Borders]. She connected me with Dr. Khazanchi, whom she knew from medical school. It all just started falling into place–it was really amazing,” Nina says. Dr. Rakesh Khazanchi, a plastic surgeon in Delhi, agreed to perform Meher’s surgeries at minimal cost……