1461528_10202590026655960_490265257_nComputers for Khelghar

by Jackie Barrow

Readers of the Diggle News may remember an article I wrote last year about my trip to Pune in India. I was taken out there by the BBC’s One Show to meet and film with a group of children I speak to every week via Skype. This is as part of a project , affectionately known as the ‘Granny Cloud’, set up by Professor Sugata Mitra of Newcastle University.

The children live in Laxminagar, one of Pune’s slum districts. I have been connecting with them via a computer in the office of an after school club they attend. This club is run by a charity, Khelghar Palakneeti, which works with the children and their families.

I was so impressed by the work done by this charity that on my return I set about raising some money to buy an extra computer for the sole use of the children. In February of this year I held a Curry Night at Saddleworth Museum. Proceeds from this, from the sale of some of my felted work and from donations from friends and family totalled £2,300. This was way beyond what I had hoped and I was overwhelmed by people’s generosity.

There have been many hurdles and frustrations involved in getting the money to Khelghar, but I am happy to report that on Thursday 14th November, Children’s Day in India, two computers were officially handed over,  set up and ready to use. One has been installed in the after school club and another in one of two rooms in the slum used for groups of girls and younger children, not usually allowed to attend the club. There was sufficient money left over to pay for locking cupboards to house the computers, some redecoration of the rooms, and to set up a high interest account to ensure the sustainability of the computers and broadband connection. On Thursday, I was Skyped in so that I could speak to the charity’s founder, Shubhada Joshi, to the co-ordinator of the ‘Granny Cloud’, Suneeta Kulkarni and to a group of very excited children and volunteers.

So, once again, many thanks to everyone who supported my fund-raising!

Anyone interested in the work of Professor Mitra might like to know that he was the winner of the 2013 TED prize. As such, he has been awarded $1,000,000 to help fulfill his dream of a School in the Clouds.

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