New Computer Lab opens in Chamda Bazaar

While an overwhelming amount of respondents to Nieck’s interview questions were positive, we also received some feedback about areas in which we need to improve. The people of Chamda Bazaar, Dharavi (a poorer area of Dharavi inhabited mainly by Muslims who work in the leather industry, skinning, shaving, equalising, dyeing, embossing and texturing the animal hides) told Nieck that they didn’t feel they benefitted from the effects of our Reality Gives programs as much as others.

“The company should develop this area and they should help the children get a better education. I think that since the last time that [they] came here, they stopped with all of these development projects.”

In response to this, in February we opened a new community Computer Lab in this area where local children are now learning IT and English skills.

Computer classes run daily from 8:30-9:30am and the same students are also given a further hours English conversation class on Monday and Tuesday from our UK volunteers, Matt and Joe (that’s right, those guys again!). Classes are taken by Youth Empowerment Program graduate, Ravi, who is in training to be the sole Computer Teacher.

Visiting the class early one morning, we greeted 12 bleary eyed, tired boys coming in for class. The change that ensued thereafter was striking – as soon as the computers were turned on and they were presented with their worksheets they were engaged, focused and had a twinkle in their eye (the fact that this was almost perfectly synchronised with the all too familiar windows start-up sound signature made it all the more remarkable). The boys are clearly really enjoying themselves.

Sitting with the boys we we’re proudly told by Sayed (12) “I was the first in my class to know what www was at school…before we were sleeping ‘til 10am, now we’re getting up to come here…I am top of the class in computers at school. I always finish quick”, whilst Asif (14) comments “At school I attend class but it is not good. The teachers do not teach. Now the students ask me ‘how do you do that?’. Everyone is shocked”

It’s great to see the vast improvements these boys have made. Mayur (who is currently supporting Ravi with the class as part of the latters training) tells us “when we started they could not handle a mouse. Now look at them! What they are doing!” With time, having established trust and a dialogue with the local community we hope to increase the number of classes being offered, and to start to work with girls in the area too, who typically have less free time to attend such programs.

Finally, with the number of computers we have now standing at 38, we’d like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the people at CORP, CapGemini, Rachel Teo, Gavin King, Idar Meling and Patrick Zickler for the generous donation you made, without which, starting this centre would not have been possible. We’re truly grateful.

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