CHENNAI, India — Santosh came to Chennai seeking employment to support his mother and two sisters back home. Instead, like so many before him, Santosh ran out of luck and ended up living on the street, working odd jobs to make ends meet.
But the determined teenager knew he deserved better and when he came across Don Bosco’s Anbu Illam – a learning institution for slum and street children – he didn’t hesitate to enroll in a computer course.
Critical to the success of that course has been the support from the Ford-Rotary Digital Literacy Program, which donated the hardware and software.
After completing a comprehensive course on computers, Santosh secured a job at a popular fast food chain and is now able to support his family. His mother and sisters are very proud of his accomplishment.
Santosh is one among the several beneficiaries of the Ford-Rotary Digital Literacy Program.
Over the years, Ford’s Global Business Services (GBS) has been committed to supporting Digital Literacy amongst underprivileged communities in South India. The organisation, in partnership with Rotary, has donated more than 700 computers, empowering close to 10,000 people from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Ford-Rotary Digital Literacy Program transforms lives by equipping beneficiaries with both the hardware and the software to attain digital literacy.
Along with every desktop computer donated by GBS comes a user-friendly Digital Literacy CD “KnowIT.” The interactive software introduces users to the Internet, e-mail, and to simple software packages such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The CD contains an interactive step-by-step online self-teaching tool that allows the learners to practice what they have learned through a variety of tests.
A fortnight ago, Joginder Singh, executive director, GBS, announced a donation of around 170 computers to several schools and institutions in the presence of Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner, Chennai, and R. Seshadri, president, Rotary Club of Madras South.
“The two-way partnership between Ford Motor Company and the Rotary Club of Madras South will empower underprivileged people by providing them with valuable computer skills that will make a long-term difference in their lives. This gesture will not only have a multiplier effect and touch several people, it will also help strengthen the technology base of the state. We are proud and delighted to support this worthy and meaningful initiative,” Singh said.
Speaking on the occasion, Nithavrianakis said, “I am delighted to have been asked to participate in an event that supports such a worthy cause. I congratulate the Rotary Club and Ford’s Global Business Services for their commitment to community-based projects. I hope their involvement will have a long-lasting impact.”
Taking the momentum further, Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, Ford India inaugurated the Ford-Rotary Digital Literacy Center last week at Sembakkam. The center caters to underprivileged women and students, enhancing their skill-sets by providing them computer education. Multiple sessions on the basics of computers are organised throughout the day for the beneficiaries, and over 30 housewives from the neighborhood have already signed up for a six month course.
“Digital literacy and digital access have become increasingly important differentiators in today’s technologically-driven world. This donation brings computer literacy within the reach of the underprivileged, and underscores Ford’s commitment to improve lives and make a difference to the community,” Chackalackal said when inaugurating the learning center.
“Using the computers Ford donated, we are educating children from the streets and the slums. Over the last three months, 75 students have benefitted from this program, and nearly two-thirds of them have found gainful employment,” said Sebasty, the computer tutor at Don Bosco’s Anbu Illam, who taught Santosh and other slum children.
|Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, Ford India with officials of Rotary Club and other dignitaries
||Tom Chackalackal, executive director, Manufacturing, Ford India inaugurates the learning centre by lighting a traditional lamp|