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From Slums to Search Engines

As the name suggests project e-Drishtikone is founded on a vision to uplift marginalized children living in the slums by educating them on modern technology. It is a program run by a Kolkata based NGO Treasures of Innocence (ToI). The children are taught the importance of incorporating technology in the contemporary world and are trained to use computers and various software programs. This knowledge will empower them. It will open up doorways to a plethora of opportunities for them to have a strong foothold on their careers to secure a better future for themselves and their families. 

This four-month long digital learning initiative is for the slum children in Garia, Kolkata, West Bengal. The process of this project is fairly simple. The first step entails conducting a need assessment to estimate computer literacy prevalence rates and understanding the mindset and need of e-learning practices among slum children. The next step involves promoting awareness among the families regarding the importance of digital learning. Only after the base has been built among the children and the adults, the activities begin. 

Community mobilizations and counselling sessions for parents and children are conducted to alter their mindset towards computer learning. After which computer learning practices commence using creative learning intervention frameworks to improve the technical skills of the children. Groups are formed with group leaders to ensure productivity and motivation to reduce dropouts and improve peer-to-peer learning. Capacity building of team members is also undertaken to support the children in their erudition to get a deeper involvement in the computer learning program.

Community mobilization through sensitization of community members is also present to keep up the motivation of the children. The children are kept engaged in different creative projects, educational tours, distribution of learning materials, health kits, food and refreshments along with learning the basics of computers.

Consultations with resource persons and volunteers of renowned IT companies and Educational Institutes are maintained throughout the project for constant improvements in the curriculum, classes for better participation and a joyful learning experience. Support from partner NGOs, patrons, other corporates and media is a crucial facet for keeping the children’s and the team’s spirits high through the course of the project. Mapei India has partnered with Treasures of Innocence for their CSR activities and has contributed to the funds for making project e-Drishtikone a reality.

At the end of the project, the aim is for the children to have enhanced skills in digital learning and an augmentation in creative thinking and deeper engagement. The key takeaway here for the children is to change their outlook towards IT and understand its importance to secure future job opportunities. This year’s program started on 3rd April, 2021 and is ongoing in its efforts to educate the children. 

On 3rd April a small inauguration ceremony was held for e-Drishtikone where IT Industry veterans were invited to address the children. IT major, Mr. Suman Das, Ms. Shampa Chatterjee, an IT professional from a renowned software company and Mr. Devashish Majumder, an IT professional and the president of Treasures of Innocence were in attendance at this event.

The program kicked off with the lighting of Diyas by Ms. Rani Bhowani, Founder and Secretary of ToI, Mr. D.K. Bhowani Assistant Secretary and Mr. Prabir K. Banerjee one of the faculty members. A group of bright students from the Heritage Institute of Technology also joined the session to support the children in digital learning. Mr. Suman Das talked about the History of Computers, Miss Shampa Chatterjee discussed various application areas and future opportunities of computer learning. And Mr. Devashish Majumder gave a short speech on how to use computers for the betterment of society. Baseline study and evaluation were done by the volunteer groups and members of ToI to understand the knowledge level of these first-generation learners.

 Through the enhanced capacity building of team members, systematic evaluation, training, counselling and special attention and care given to each child, Treasures of Innocence strives towards educating these first-generation learners from socio-economic challenging backgrounds on modern day technological advancements to help them brighten their tomorrow. 

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Internship experience of Bodhisatva Sengupta

Treasures of Innocence has helped me to make a mark in the most sustainable way for society as a whole. During my internship, I had the privilege to work for slum children. Under the supervision of Rani Ma’am in every step, the workload seemed very connected to me as the mission directed towards hope for change. ToI works for their children and is always on the run to bring up new ideas to engage them, benefitting them, and help them. ToI has enriched me regarding the socio-economic condition of the slum children and has helped me to explore my field area which is HR. From relief operations, creating awareness & thinking about specific local needs, taking care of physical and mental wellbeing of slum children through online activity and tele-counseling, giving them chance to beat boredom and advent newer ways to unlearn and learn with their new venture FRIENDSHIP BOAT, I participated in every possible sector.

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So, in a nutshell, ToI has made me realize how privileged I am and what should I do to help the underprivileged class of society so that they can get equal opportunities. The internship was amazing and I still talk it about frequently at work and with friends.  It challenged me in so many ways.  I found myself participating in activities. I am thrilled that I was given the opportunity and made it happen.  I always recommend internships to anyone who is looking to change my career or study.  Doing an internship was one of the best decisions I have made, both professionally and personally, and is an experience that I will cherish and value forever.

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Internship Experience of Rachana Das

I had been associated with ToI as a part of my Summer Internship Programme arranged by my college IISWBM .  My journey with Treasures of Innocence has been overwhelming. It has shown me the reality of the less-privileged children, their misery, their unfortunate predicament and also unfolded before me their innocent yet resilient fortitude to fight against all odds. While dealing with case studies on children, being part of the making of their report, I came across stories of their innocent efforts and success in overcoming their inhibitions and insecurities, diligently and professionally assisted by the facilitators at ToI. I have gained a lot of perspective and also understood how important it is to bring these children to light and help them hone their individual skills, as they are very capable of becoming equally self-reliant and self-confident adults as any of those children from a privileged background.

In each children lies a genius, be it in any field, and the members of ToI makes sure to bring to surface the potential of individual children through different activities carried out as a part of its different programmes and projects. The positive impact that ToI makes on a section of society with under-privileged children coming from slums, orphanages and childcare homes, in Kolkata and its suburbs, is worth appreciation and it feels great to see that each member continuously works towards the betterment of their endeavour to make a significant impact on this part of society. I’m grateful to be a part of their work on this noble cause of uplifting the lives of these children.

ToI is an organization who have awed me in their tireless working structure that assures a holistic growth in the children, marks their safety and security and thus giving them a better future. I am very grateful to be able to work with team ToI and be closely associated to it as a summer intern. Everything learnt here will surely be of immense help in future in my work field and each moment spent associating with team ToI will be cherished and remembered with a grin.

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Am I Less Than a Superhero?

Rajesh Chouhan , is a  26 year old migrant labour who was working for an IT hub in Bengaluru walked 1250 miles(2000 kilometre) to reach his village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He lost his job when the national lockdown began. He was stranded at Bengaluru with many other migrant labourers without job, food, shelter and savings. With no way to survive in the cities and as the vast railway network was also shut , Rajesh decided to walk to his family with few more labourers of same village. At first he tried for vehicles and train service for going back to his village after 3rd May.  But the vehicles were demanding high fees and he had just Rs150 left with him. Normally he pays 300 Rs for train tickets from Bangalore to his village but during pandemic the train ticket also got high to Rs 1200/-.  On 12th May he decided to walk and started his journey with few other labourers. But he didn’t inform his family that he is returning home walking as his elderly sick parents will get worried.  So he informed his family that he is still waiting for train tickets.

Earlier Rajesh was working at his village at Tribhuvan Nagar, which is a small village at Nepal border and he was earning Rs250/- per day.  He shifted to Bengaluru as he is earning double and he can send money which is enough to sustain his family including his wife, two young children and elderly parents. He lives in a thatched roof house set amid sugarcane and wheat fields.

He walked for 10 long days. His legs were swollen and his blisters had burst. But he didn’t stop walking. Police were stopping migrant labourers from walking, so they followed railway tracks to avoid police on the roads. He was walking with 11 other migrant labourers and few of them had smart phones which helped them to navigate their routes. They used to walk for the entire day and slept for few hours at night in whichever place they halted during their journey back home.

On the journey Chouhan met with many other migrant labourers walking towards their villages.  In the group there were Brahmins and Thakurs, who belonged to upper castes and even Chamars who belonged to lower caste. But while walking back home they were all united and they felt no differences between castes.  People slept together and shared each other’s food and water.  Rajesh broke his slipper on the 2nd day when everyone shared fund to buy him a new slipper. After that they walked for 5 days. They had money for buying biscuits only.  After crossing Telengana- Maharashtra border they came across an NGO who offered them lunch and drinking water. 300 migrant labourers were sitting together and eating when suddenly police came and made them run as they were not maintaining social distancing.  Food and water were snatched from many old men, females and children. Rajesh saw the cruel side of our society. Even the NGO was asked to stop giving food.

On the highway back to home, pandemic was of low priority to them. They thought they all will die in hunger, thirst, exhaustion and pain.  Many migrant labourers died on the way either through starvation, exhaustion, or road and rail accidents.

Finally on the 8th day he reached the border of Uttar Pradesh and the joy of reaching near to his home gave him immense happiness and it made him forget all his pain. He reached his village on the 10th day when he was placed for quarantine by the local police.

Even after facing so many challenges in his way back home he never gave up. He believed in himself and stayed motivated which made him succeed in his journey back home.

So now, after reading my story, don’t you think Rajesh is the perfect example of a Superhero?

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Written By : Anushka Roy

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Responsibilities of NGOs in post calamity period

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Non-Governmental Organisations enable citizens to work together voluntarily to promote social values and civic goals, which are important to them. They promote local initiative and problem solving through their work in a broad array of fields – environment, health, poverty alleviation, culture & the arts, education, etc. NGOs reflect the diversity of society itself. They also help the society by empowering citizens and promoting change at the “grass roots”. 

There are 93510 NGOs (including Voluntary Organisations) in PAN India & 7095 enrolled NGOs (including Voluntary Organisations) in West Benagl (source https://ngodarpan.gov.in ; Dated 18-06-2020). In a State like West Bengal, with differences between individual districts and regions, NGOs are characterized by a rich diversity of approaches, traditions, and activities rendering the task of generalization difficult, if not impossible. They cover most areas of the State and their activities affect a significant proportion of the population living in poverty.

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Now, let’s dive into the discussion of the dedication of NGOs in the post Amphan period in Bengal, with the pre-existing menace- COVID19. Literally the NGOs stuck between a rock and hard place.

Cyclone Amphan was worst cyclone in Bengal in 283 years, since the Great Bengal Cyclone of 1737 and Sundarban was the worst hit this time. As the UNESCO World Heritage stands in ruins, NGOs set up rehabilitation centres in the area and carried out extensive relief work for the tribal people, the stranded and anyone affected by Amphan. Organizations devoted their volunteers in order to provide emergency medical supplies, dry rations, tarpaulin sheets, mosquito-nets, materials for COVID-19 protection, solar lamps, education kits, sanitization kits, household items and water purifier. They also engaged in proactive rehabilitation centre and restoration of houses and logistics support. All the NGOs across and beyond the state have shown the potential of their performances, this time.

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Meanwhile, Treasures of Innocence also extended their hands to distribute essential items among families of Sundarban – Kakdwip area & Gosaba area, in some relief operations with the help of their members and volunteers to sustain the stomach of the unfortunate ones in the devastating condition caused due to Amphan.

It was a tough job to reach out for those people in Sundarban area, as we were already engaged with relief distribution to the local slum children in Garia and nearby areas. The nation wise lockdown caused uncertainties and loss of jobs. The parents of those children’s were also no exception. At the same time, immunity boosting was the bare minimum initiative to be taken to combat the virus SARS-COV-2. So, in such a difficult time we stand beside them and distributed Masoor Dal, Potato, Soybean, Muri, Sattu, Biscuits, Cooking Oil, Turmeric powder, Cumin Seeds etc groceries.

But, most importantly, it is not about only distribution of some essential rations, it is the RADIATION OF POSITIVE VIBES that will surely impact an everlasting effect on those innocent minds. We believe there are so many benevolent people who also want to contribute for the society. But due to lack of contacts, they are unable to do that. So it’s an open invitation letter from team ‘Treasures of Innocence’ to everyone going through this article, to join and be part of us!!

Composed by: Arnab Sarkar

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কমলাম্মা – আমাদের হিরো ঠাম্মা

কমলাম্মা মাইসোরের চেন্নাগিরিকোপ্পালা নামক এক  গ্রামে থাকা, শোত্তর বছরের এক বৃদ্ধা  | তার দুটি ছেলেও আছে, তবে সে এখনো নিজে খেটে খায় | তার স্বামী অনেক বছর আগেই মারা গেছেন | স্বামী চলে যাওয়ার পর থেকেই সে লোকের বাড়ি-বাড়ি কাজ করে খায় |

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করোনা সংক্রমণের কারণে লোকডাউন হয়ায় আর তার বৃদ্ধ বয়সের কারণে সে নিজের কাজ হারিয়ে ফেলে | সরকারের দেয়া ছশো-টাকা পেনশন-ই  তার একমাত্র ভরসা সংসার চালানোর জন্য | এই লোকডাউনে তার ঘরে কিছু খাবার মতো ছিল না |

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তার কষ্টের কথা শুনে স্থানীয় এক নেতা রোটারি হেরিটেজ মাইশুরু  নামক এক সঙ্গস্থায় গিয়ে কমলাম্মা কে খাবার পাঠানোর আবেদন করেন |  রোটারি হেরিটেজ মাইশুরু থেকে “অন্নদান” শিবির এর মাধ্যমে ঠাকুমাটার কাছে খাবার পৌঁছে যেত |

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পনেরো দিন আগেকার ঘটনা, একদিন কমলাম্মা রোটারি হেরিটেজ মাইশুরু সঙ্গস্থার অফিস এ গিয়ে পৌছাল | সবাই ভাবলো সে বোধয় খাবার পবার আশায় এসেছে | সেই অণুযাই তার দিকে একটা খাবারের প্যকেট বাড়িয়ে দেয়া হলো | কিন্তু সে সেটি গ্রহণ করল না | প্রথমে দ্বিধা বোধ করলেও, কিছুক্ষন পর শাড়ির আঁচলে বাঁধা পুটলি থেকে একটি পাঁচশ-টাকার নোট বের করে বলল, ” আমি জানি এই টাকাটা খুব-ই  সামান্য কিন্তু এর থেকে বেশি দেয়ার আমার ক্ষমতা নেই| কাল-ই আমি আমার পেনশন পেয়েছি, তাই আজ এলাম | আমি দেখেছি তোমরা গরিব-দুঃখীদেরকে অনেক দিন ধরে খাবার খাওয়াছো এই কঠিন সময় | আমার তরফ থেকে একটা ছোট্ট অবদান, রাখো |” সঙ্গস্থার লোকজন লজ্জিত হয়ে টাকাটা প্রথমে তাকে ফিরিয়ে নিতে বলল কিন্তু সে অনুরোধ করায় তার সন্মান রাখতে অবদান টি  সঙ্গস্থা থেকে গ্রহণ করে  নিল  আর তার এই উদারতার গল্প ইন্টারনেটের মাধ্যমে সব জায়গায় ছড়িয়ে দিল | কমলাম্মা ঠাকুমা আমাদের শেখাল যে, কাউকে কিছু দেয়ার জন্য আসলে বড়ো মন দরকার, সে আমাদের আর্থিক অবস্থা যাই হোক না কেন |

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 কলমে :  রচনা দাস

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Internship Experience

Sayani Mukherjee

Working with an NGO is a real time experience. It enables your inner talent and provides enough exposure to enhance your skills. Such experience was for me with Treasures of Innocence, a non profit organisation. I was doing an internship here for one month.  When I think about the journey so far it’s been nothing less than a blessing. I developed my confidence while working here. I was absolutely blessed to work here more than I can express. Thank You Treasures of Innocence for giving me this opportunity.

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Our Think Tank

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Mekhala Banerjee

Alumnus of Jadavpur University & an active member of ToI . It's been such an amazing journey of more than 3 years with ToI. 

Arnab Sarkar

I got to know about Treasures of Innocence, after my management entrance exam. I had no idea about the nitty-gritty of an NGO, hence, thought to have some hands-on experience on something which is not my forte. With this intention, I landed here. It feels really good to be a part of their support team and indirectly contribute to society.

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Shreya Singha

From childhood I am a helpful and kind like a girl. I pursue Ami education in another field but my fortune takes me in TOI. And I am very grateful that I am a part of it. I love to work here.

Sucheta Chakraborty

When I was in my 10 th standard I was first introduced to the sphere of social services. The joy it gave me was inexplicable. I never thought I would get the privilege again in my life. I heard about TOI from one of my maternal aunt. When I joined it and was connected to the field work , I came to know there is so much more into it, it's not just merely extending help to the underprivileged children, it's more like connecting with them, connecting with their family, connecting with their day to day activities and in return exploring so much of talent among them which has so much of promising probabilities in future. Loved every inch of work with TOI.

Manaswita Das

I volunteered in TOI in their e-dristikone programme. I am a MSW student from IISWBM Kolkata. I came to know about this organization from our college event, the founder of TOI was present there as a guest.  I joined here to enhance my experience as a volunteer. I am very happy and grateful to work hear as a team member.

Mahua Poddar

From my parents and my teachers I have learnt to help those who r weak,less privileged and needy.Treasures Of Innocence has given me the opportunity to serve the less privileged students of our society.My passion for teaching the children has come true by teaching and helping these children to develop their skills in English and Maths.I feel I am lucky to be here with my childhood friend Rani and other volunteers.

Golak Debnath

I have chosen social work as my professional life cause i am very passionate on it. i have came here three years ago as an Intern  and till continuing to work with them. TOI is working with vulnerable children in the challenging sector of the society and this is helps to enhance my potentiality. i have always followed child protection rules and regulation while i am working with them. we need smiling children in the smiling society. 

Samujjwal Banerjee

While on the lookout to contribute and give back to the society I was looking for genuine NGOs that I could associate myself with. This lead me to TOI and especially its tireless work on education of the underprivileged children. The journey has been rewarding, as expected. I am ever glad to remain associated with such a selfless noble cause of TOI.

Shreyam Das

I always believed a child has the potential of true intelligence with an eye to explore, heart to love, brain to decode and the innocence of a flower who seeks to be the flag holder of our future. With this intention, I joined TOI not to display any kindness towards our society but felt as a responsibility to help a child expand what he already has within. The experience of working here can’t be expressed in words but only can be experienced as their joyful faces makes you forget who you are and when did you become a child . I would certainly recommend this to someone who is working towards the same goal or has something to contribute towards your society.

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