Monday, March 23, 2009

Curiosity , 2nd year at Deepam and 1st mail

The first mail to Deepam ( bridgethedivide) , sent about a year ago. 

'Imparting Curiosity' will be the big theme at Deepam, for 09 / 10.


Hello Friends,

I look at the last 10 months of my life , since i decided to throw away my "comfortable" job and start-up on my own, and i realise all i that i required was just a few thousand rupees and a dependable computer . I would like to add that i would have bet on my computer more than the few thousand rupees i had, for the few thousands vanished quickly . But my computer stayed with me, ON all days and a lot of nights. And surely, it helped me make much more than the few thousands i had initially. 

On every single day, the last thing i do is to walk away to the bed shutting off the laptop and the first thing i do is, not difficult to guess, run to the computer. ( Most of us .. am sure all of us in this group , probably follow the same routine. )

When i went to school ( now seems ages ago, 8 years ago ), the single most important gift my teachers ( Dad was the best and some teachers in school ) gave me and my school buddies was the imparting of CURIOSITY. They made us dream. They made us curious about object around us. They made us ask questions. I wasn't the smartest guy in my class . But i was always curious about things around me. When i heard about BITS ( and the stories my school principal told us about my school seniors who went to BITS and their success ), it inspired me to work for the entry into the great insitution. There were some amazing teachers during my school days without whom i would've got stuck in a much smaller world.. the dream-less world.

I live quite close to a Govt. school and i pass by that school quite often. A hundred + smiling innocent faces spend the crucial initial years of their life in that institution. With due respects to the teachers in that school ( and other Govt. Schools ), i wonder how many of these energetic kids are transformed into a curious, inspired student.. for a lifetime. 

What did these kids do to deserve this "moulding" ( if you can call it that ) ? What did i do to receive such close attention and care from my teachers ? We talk of earning/deserving what we want / get . But when i was young, as a kid , what did i do to earn the great education i had in school ? Nothing. We talk of equality but where is equality when it is needed the most - at the begining of the life of these kids. They need someone to bring curiousity to them. They need someone to teach them to dream. They need someone to open their minds. They need some great teachers and the great teachers.. as i realise, are great friends.

Now put all these together... and we start this initiative - bridge the divide ( DEEPAM ) - An initiative that will help the kids in Govt. schools / kids who are under-priveleged ( living in slums ) to become curious about computers.

The idea / impetus came out of a discussion between Ram Viswanathan ( someone i look up to ), who is the founder of chennairunners ( a group that helps spread fitness and specially running in chennai ), and me after a morning run. Ram had been a great mentor ( in other words, a great friend ) from whom i walk away having learnt something new, everytime i meet with him. His passion to do good things, his vision and his mentorship will be really valuable to all of us as we begin this journey.

In the next few days, we can try to get as many passionate people to help us get started on this initiative. We need a lot of helping hands. Volunteers can help in a number of ways - teach / inspire the kids , talk to corporates and get computers that are discarded, talk to schools and organise classes and many many more.

If you know someone who will be interested, i request you to bring them into this google group ( ).

If you have ideas ( be it on corp funding / getting computers from Corps, teaching or anything at all ) , just mail in.

Stay Curious


Monday, March 09, 2009

Deepam - The Journey Begins

Archana has made a video , capturing the 'start' of the Deepam Journey. Please take a look and spread word

Deepam 1st Anniversary Celebrations

"I have not seen a bunch of kids as happy and contented as these kids are " mentioned Rahul Nayar, as he observed the kids at the Deepam 1st anniversary celebrations. The life of Deepam, these kids made the anniversay a very special day for all of us, who were present at the celebrations. The Nalamdana centre at the olcott kuppam , venue for the event, was charged with enthusiasm and energy - thanks to the kids, the chief guests and the volunteers.

The MC's for the event, Basu and Meera, keeping the kids engaged..

We had a special person talking to these kids on Saturday - Sarath Babu - He was truly 'one of them' . As he stood in front , sharing his rags to riches story, one could see the kids getting inspired. The room went silent , as the kids and the volunteers were in rapt attention.

Sarath interacting with the kids

Kiruba, the other chief guest, in his usual way , engaged the kids with an interesting story and conveyed a nice 'life-lesson' across.

It was a year ago, when Ram , our mentor, suggested we go to govt schools and teach kids there. His point was simple - 'Lets start small , 2 or 3 of us can go teach at a local school but the focus should be on making an impact ' . Since then, he not only taught the kids, but the volunteers as well.

Kids presenting a memento to Ram
Ram announced a scholarship program for kids - 5 deserving kids ( Deepam Stars ) will get all their education expense covered for 2009-2010.

The anniversary cake , cut by the kids

We also had performances from kids - Nalamdana Centre girls mellifluously sang a popular tamil song

These kids can sure shake a leg..

All the winners of the cultural events were awarded medals. Kids got participation certificates as well.

Its the volunteers , who work tirelessly, who have helped Deepam make an impact. They were awarded certificates as well. Anupama's commitment to pudhiyador center is outstanding.
Meera who comes to Chennai every weekend, from Bangalore - She and her husband Vijay, teach on saturdays and sundays, every weekend

Archana, who puts in a lot of energy and helped build Deepam, gets the certificate from Ram

The start has been good - The 1st year flew by. It can only get better !

A big thanks to all the kids and the volunteers !

P.S More photos can be found here

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Support Education - Vote for Deepam

An Essay and a Film on Deepam is in the running for the National Knowledge Commission Prize. Essay / Film talks about how Deepam is solving some of the problems in Indian Education System.

Your vote will make a BIG difference - Support Deepam / Support Education

Apart from the quality of the essay / Film, the judging criterion for
  • Essay - No of Votes / Rating of the essay
  • Film - No of views / Rating of the Video
How can you support :
  • Please vote / rate the essay here ( please create a login for knowledge portal )
  • Please View / Rate the video here ( to rate, please sign-in to youtube ) 

Please spread word ( twitter / facebook / gtalk ) - request all your friends to support Deepam and help spread education. Please vote ASAP.

Friends of Deepam