Japanese girl, 12, sets up free dessert stall in Bodh Gaya to fund poor kids

Bodh Gaya: A 12 year old Japanese girl emerged as an instant celebrity in the south central Bihar Buddhist pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya, last weekend, when she set up a stall to give free hand outs of a delicacy from her country, to raise funds for poor children inhabiting dalit villages in the area.
Nanai Sugamito, who put up her stall near Birla Dharamshala in Bodh Gaya on April 2, immediately caught the attention of passersby with her free of cost offering of ‘Khakigori’ a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener, often condensed milk.
‘Khakigori’ is very popular in Japan and is often dished out in flavors such as strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape, melon, Blue Hawaii and sweet plum.
With the temperature in Bodh Gaya soaring above 35 degrees celsius, it was not long before tourists and locals thronged her stall to taste the unique offering by the Japanese girl, accompanied by other members of her immediate family.
Sugamito, resplendent in a colorful dress, with flowers in her hair, politely urged each visitor of her stall to drop something in the donation box kept there, making it clear the collection would be spent on the education and health of rural kids of Bodh Gaya.
Many offered donations while several others left the scene after taking the ice cream but without turning towards the donation box. But Sugamito had no complaint against anybody. In fact, she was profuse in thanking those among locals who had helped her realize her dream.
The stall ran from April 2 to April 6. But how much she collected during this period will be known only after the donation box is opened later in the presence of members of a committee that would be constituted to run the social service venture.
However, the local community was forthcoming in supporting the cause she had propounded. “Her venture is for a good cause and we must support it”, said Jitendra Tiwari, a social activist of Bodh Gaya.
Sugamito later told reporters she had learnt the art of preparing ‘Khakigori’ from her parents. She also revealed what had prompted her to take up the cause of poor children in a mission mode.
“During my visit to Bodh Gaya last year, I had noticed poor children from nearby villages loitering around restaurants and stalls, picking up leftover eatables thrown outside. I then decided to do something for such children”, she said.
“We are trying to make Nanani Sugamito’s Khakigori stall a permanent feature in Bodh Gaya”, said Santosh Kumar, her friend and tourist guide.
Kumar said Sugamito, after the trial run of her stall, had left for Goa to explore the possibility of setting up a similar venture there. It was her long-cherished dream is to spread the venture Buddhist pilgrimage centers across the country, he added.
From Goa, Sugamito was scheduled to return to Japan and would return to Bodh Gaya next month.

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