This blog was written by Navika Chhauda, Microsoft Student Ambassador. Navika shares her journey of empowering acid attack survivors using Tech for Good through M365 Office Tools.
Through this blog I would like to share my story, inspire students to use Tech for Good, and contribute to the community to make a difference in someone else's life. In doing so, I hope to enable others to share their knowledge with the most vulnerable section of society as "Education is for All".
It was my childhood, being raised by a single parent, which taught me the importance of becoming confident, independent, self sufficient, and having a strong personality through education, learning, gaining knowledge and sharing it back with peers in the community. I faced lots of challenges in life since childhood but I was privileged enough to get all facilities for studying in an esteemed school and doing extracurricular activities which diverted my attention from hardships to positive thinking and confidence building. This further encouraged me to give back to society and strive to be an inspiration to others.
Sustaining community service for almost 7 years
My community service started when I was in my 10th standard in school. I started empowering girls in my community by teaching them French as I wanted to reach out to those students who did not have this language in their curriculum. I wanted them to feel "equal" in learning and know the custom and culture of other countries. My journey and passion of empowering girls continued after I began college, started pursuing BTECH IT, and became a Gold Student Microsoft Ambassador. I conducted various events in Microsoft Technology like Azure, Cloud Computing, and Microsoft Office 365 tools to empower both women to reduce the gender gap in tech and students with disabilities.
Reaching out to acid attack survivors
In these times of pandemic, technology has become essential. This made me think about the students who were disabled and not very tech savvy as it would deprive them of moving ahead during this COVID period. I had a strong desire to empower students with disabilities and reached out to acid attack survivors through NGOs. After communication with the NGOs and digging more into the past lives of these survivors, what caught my attention was that it was not just the physical pain which these survivors go through, but also the mental trauma because of social exclusion. After reading about their painful sufferings and experience, as each survivor has heart touching stories where in some cases even their own family backed out on support, I became more determined to make these lovely souls powerful by teaching them the latest technology tools to help them become confident, strong, self sufficient, and independent so that they can earn their own livelihood and not be dependent on anyone anymore.
Challenges faced in rehabilitating acid attack survivors
The NGO rehabilitating acid attack survivors made me aware of the expensive surgeries these survivors have to go through and high cost involved. Thus, these NGOs mainly focus on meeting their surgery expenses and rehabilitating them through other programs. My mission of empowering these girls with technology during these times of crisis sounded like a good suggestion to the NGO but they were limited in their resources as their main focus is to fund their surgeries. Also, they did not have computers where practical training and teaching could be possible.
Procuring computers for practical training
With complete dedication, I started looking for people who could donate laptops or computers to the NGO so that the girls could begin their technology learning and as they say "where there is a will, there is a way". I convinced my friend's parents, who had a computer agency, to gift four computers to the NGO where I started teaching the acid attack survivors.
Insights of virtual tech classes from different parts of India
The M365 Office Tools classes started with twelve girls who connected virtually from three different states of India - Delhi, Lucknow, and Agra. These classes were held from 2pm-4pm, during lunch hours as these girls were working in SHEROES Cafe, which is run by the acid attack survivors under the guidance of their NGO. As I recall, they felt blessed and had always had a desire to learn computers. They were extremely dedicated to learn all that was taught to them be it - presentations, Excel sheets or making resumes on Microsoft Word and would always submit their homework on time. I remember an interesting experience where I had given them assignments after teaching them Microsoft Excel and to my surprise their assignments centered on their restaurant SHEROES' menu display concept which was entirely their innovation and idea. Each Girl thoughtfully made their presentations which brought me such satisfaction and so much happiness. They were the best students and so eager to learn as they would never hesitate to ask questions and made sure to attend all classes religiously. These classes still continue today.
"True success does not lie in you achieving for yourself but rather in making a difference in someone else's life"
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So let's be the change. Continue to spread knowledge and reach out to the vulnerable section of society as they need us.
We all are a part of the same society. Let's be a part of their world and help them to achieve their goals by raising them as we rise ourselves in learning and knowledge.