OLPC for Vatsalya Girls Orphanage in Bangalore, India

   
   
   
   
   

I am René Seifert, entrepreneur and global citizen. I felt like doing it for quite some time, so I am happy to move ahead and announce my charity project "OLPC for Vatsalya". What I intend to do: Raise EUR 2,800 ($3,900) and equip the Vatsalya Orphanage in Bangalore (India) with 11 computers from the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative.

Background

It's been already 2 years that I have been supporting the Vatsalya Orphanage in Bangalore with donations and my regular presence which every time has warmed up my heart unlike anything else. The girls in the orphanage aged 5 to 14 might not have had the best start for life, all of them coming from poor backgrounds, some without parents, a few only with a mother who is financially unable to take care of them.

Yet, every time I went there and and saw them smiling, happy, curious and eager for learning is nothing but the result of the adorable environment the Vatsalya team has been able to put together. The team consists employed "mothers" as well as teachers who interact with the children during their schooling, whereas the major organizational backbone stems from the board of committed volunteers. One of the board members is my neighbour Shashi who lives one door away from me, who introduced me to Vatsalya and has been devoting numerous hours every week in her life.


Project

From all the things one can do for good, the thing one will do should be close to one's heart. In my case, as an internet-entrepreneur and sublime nerd who spends a big chunk of the day in front of the computer, bringing children from an early age in touch with technology as part of their fundamental education is an imperative. Something which children in the west can take for granted in their essential formative years, obviously falls short for those in India who grow up in underprivileged conditions.

The most saddening thing the many times I drove by a slum in Bangalore or Mumbai is to see the many children (many indeed!), among whom there might be the brains of an Albert Einstein, Azim Premji, Joseph Ratzinger or Mahatma Gandhi - yet without the possibility of unfolding their talent. Here at least at Vatsalya exists the organisational framework for a different path.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is an non-profit initiative of the MIT-founder Nicholas Negroponte which I became aware of for the first time through his TED-Talk. OLPC builds simple and particularly robust notebooks which have been optimized for children in the third world; hence the machines are able to withstand heat, dust, humidity and one or the other knock on the ground.

With learning the fundamentals of computers which are moreover fully internet-enabled, the children will have access to the same window to the world as all of you who a reading these lines. A window which will empower them for a significantly higher career path than without it.

Here a brief outline with some slides to explain the scope and some operational issues of the project:


The plan is too buy and deploy 11 computers for the orphanage (10 for the 50 girls girls, 1 for the teachers). Initially, I intended to aim for 50 computers, as the name "One Laptop per Child" suggests. But after watching Dr Mitra's experiment of a "Hole in the Wall" (great TED talk here), I was convinced otherwise: Children can teach each other a hell of a lot by sharing one computer, and secondly I did not want to fall into the known trap to "over-invest" in a charity project.

Rather, by following a step by step approach, bringing a community of donors and volunteers together, rising along the learning curve, proving accountability from my end, the ultimate intention will be to scale concept either within the Vatsalya Orphanage and/or identify other deserving "targets" with subsequent funds.

Result

I am deeply honoured and humbled about your instant participation which led to the final commitments for our charity "OLPC for Vatsalya Orphanage". We got the money together, EUR 2869 within 5 days of fund-raising. Stunning! Thank you very much for your support; together we are making it happen.

Fundrasing is just the first step towards OLPC for Vatsalya. Follow René Seifert's experience as he deploys XO laptops at the Vatsalya orphanage.

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Back in June of this year, René Seifert, entrepreneur and global citizen, had a vision to create OLPC for Vatsalya Girls Orphanage in Bangalore, India. [more]

5 Comments

Dr. Mitra's TED talk is here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves.html

and I agree it is very good (after the first few minutes). It gives me much hope. The model of "One Laptop Per Group of Children" might indeed be better and cheaper.

Sorry guys, Rene here, the one who initiated "OLPC for Vatsalya: I had to pull the plug as you were not able to deliver the laptops. Read my follow up blog-post here

http://www.reneseifert.com/2009/08/olpc_india_fail_and_plan_b_wipro_netbooks_for_vatsalya.html

Really sorry, but I don't think that with this sort of organization you will get anywhere given the fact that competitive low-price alternatives are coming up.

Rene, I'm sorry to hear about the roadblock you hit there. Unfortunately I can't say this is the first time that has happened... :-/

(Also, please note that olpcnews.com is an independant blog about the project, we aren't affiliated with One Laptop per Child itself. You can find OLPC's blog at http://blog.laptop.org.)

We have a spare PC which I would like to donate.

its realy nice to see u ppl helpin d poor girls n educatin dem all d very best:-))))))))))

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