Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 at Deepam and a New Year

Hello Friends,

End / Start of a year is a great time to lookback on the work and assess / plan .

2009 was our 1st full year at Deepam. Its also the year where a number of people have stepped forward to contribute / give back. Being entirely volunteer driven, this is a significant step at Deepam. Volunteers are also ‘connecting’ with the kids, which is a big step towards making a positive impact on the children. On the organisation front, we are beginning to be recoganised by external organisations – we are able to now partner with others, lot more easily. We are also getting our act together on fundraising , which is much required activity for our infrastructure needs.

We added 4 new centres and 140+ students in our programs in 2009 alone. That number, ofcourse, doesn’t matter as much as how much ‘impact’ we made. We are improving this, as we go.

As we end the year 2009, I want to thank all the volunteers for the dedication and sincere effort. Without you, Deepam wouldn’t be able to ‘bridge the divide’.

In 2010, our focus will be mainly on improving the impact we make, on the students. We will be working on a curriculum relevant for deepam ( tailored for each centre ), that excites and interests the students. Infrastructure availability ( internet and a good student : computer ratio ) will be a priority as well. Finally, volunteer support at each centre, to ensure our children have the mentorship they need.

2010 will be an exciting year at Deepam – Lets make more impact on the children.

Wish all of you at Deepam, a happy holidays and a fantastic new year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Deepam Centre - VRS.

The New Deepam center @ Venkata Ramana School, Alwarpet got off to a great start with a vibrant inaugural session this morning at 10.30 AM. The Principal was waiting eagerly for us along with Mr.Janardhan from Rotary who connected Deepam with VRS. And when Abhinav walked in with camera in hand, it was time to begin.

Twenty select children from 5th grade were made to assemble in a small, tidy classroom. Basu gave a cute intro about Deepam to the wide-eyed kids in his bengali tamil. We shared the short term Objectives to be met by Deepam, and the Principal emphasized to the students the unique opportunity that they were getting. Over the next half hour each volunteer guided students with filling the Know Your Students Form.

It was Thilaka Ravi who took over at this point, with a very effective session on spoken English covering basic action verbs. The loud and energetic response of the VRS children charged the classroom, and even we volunteers who were watching got pulled into the exercise of structuring simple action sentences ! Her teaching skills left us feeling that the right person was in charge here ! Meantime new volunteer Pradyut supported by another new volunteer Abhishek, brought the 4 OLPCs that were being charged in another classroom. I must mention here that Pradyut had come over the previous evening after a long day at IIT, and after tinkering around with an OLPC took it home to get a proper feel of it. Such involvement is indeed very reassuring.

The class was divided into 4 groups and the session on Paint that followed proved that children’s curiosity about computers is a universal thing. Each child got a chance to draw shapes, and fill colour. Earlier we were wondering if they might need a mouse for easier navigation, but the children surprised us with their quickness in learning to point, click and drag the cursor with the touch pad.

Two hours just flew past, and when we were leaving, almost every child came forward to shake our hands with a smiling Thank You or Happy New Year. A great start it was this morning ! Another chance indeed for Deepam to empower deserving children !

Saturday, November 28, 2009

10 New OLPC's Donated to Deepam

Friends – We have some good news – Our Friends at Cognizant (CTS ) / Team Everest have donated 10 new OLPC’s to Deepam. These laptops will be used at the new centre that Deepam’s starting this weekend at Alwarpet,Chennai. The class 4/5 students at this school will benefit from these machines.

Anuradha ( quick thinking, as always), has some wonderful ideas to put the OLPCs to use, at the centre. We will hear more from her, in the coming days .

A big thanks to Kartheeban Chandramohan, founder of Team Everest for supporting Deepam. Also, thanks to Srini for liaising with Team Everest and making this happen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deepam - Nalanda library

Hello Deepamites,

The Library project was launched on the Children's day . Children at 2 centres ( West Mambalam and UK Centre ) will be able to utilise the library, for a start. We will soon roll out the project at other centres as well. Library will be a 'student-run' and volunteer-supported project.

Deepam is partnering with Nalanda Trust in this project. Nalanda Trust is run by Kavery Nambisan, an Indian Novelist / Doctor who was nominated for the Asian Booker prize last year. Deepam and Nalanda share a similar vision , to provide access to books for the children and encourage them to take to the books and benefit, just like all of us. Nalanda trust currently runs libraries at Pune / Hyderabad . Nalanda will be supporting the library project, financially and Deepam will be running this library. Inaddition, Deepam will benefit from Nalanda's experience in running the library project in other cities.

Thanks to all the Deepamites who helped launch the Deepam-Nalanda Library project - Saye and Sriram in particular took initiative and made the library ' idea ' , a reality.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Childrens Day 2009 at Deepam UK Centre

We were hoping the rains would go away for that special day, but no, it was pouring ! An hour before the event, we inspected the premises and noticed some water trickling in. But thankfully, once the celebration got underway at 2.30pm, nothing seemed to matter. The regular set of children turned up, and after several smiley exchanges of Happy Childrens’ day, the white Deepam T-shirts were distributed to the them (S-M-L). Out came the fabric colours, and then, ever-energetic Archana gave clear instructions to the children on how to use each type of colour, wax crayons, blocks, rollers and tubes. Newspapers were spread all over the ground, and Radhika took charge at the centre of the circle formed by the group. They couldn’t wait to begin. Over the next hour, as we strolled around, we saw different pictures emerging on each T-shirt….brand Nike, Michael Jackson, Chevrolet Cruze and what not ! Many of them highlighted the round collar too. It was a riot of colours ! The masterpieces were then collected and using hangers, were hung out to dry on a makeshift clothesline. Wow ! It was brilliant to see them all together!

It was then time to Launch the Library project, a new initiative at Deepam. Ram engaged the children in a discussion about the significance of a library and reading, and soon the set of books were given out to the children, mostly based on the child’s interest. We hope to get the children hooked to the reading habit, and judging from the initial response, it may be easier than we think.

The serious bit over, all eyes were now on the chocolate truffle cake placed enticingly on the table. The cake cutting made the event like one big birthday party. The plates with cake and biscuits were passed around to all the children, the caretakers, and volunteers. ….All this while, something was happening behind the scene. The surprise of the day was the deepam Tiger ! The children were amused and happy to see a growling tiger suddenly emerge from the back, and enjoyed taking pictures… Srini’s efforts paid off and the Tiger was a super hit ! All happy faces, more exchanges of Happy Children’s day and it was time to go.

- Anuradha

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lighting the Spark

This incident happened in the UK centre a few weeks back. And I am certain that I will quote this whenever I get a chance. The computer session was in progress. The topic being covered was MS PowerPoint. Kids were in small groups trying to make a simple 2-slide presentation on any topic of thier choice. For visuals, we had asked them to select a suitable clipart picture and insert it in the slide.

One boy stood out from the rest of the class in this activity. Manivannan, the little boy with an ever bright face, was at first puzzled that his laptop did not have any clipart pictures. After a few minutes of futile searching, there was suddenly a gleam on his face. He had cracked it ! He used the webcam in the laptop, posed smilingly in front of it, clicked himself and saved his photograph on the destop. He then inserted this into his powerpoint slide and titled the presentation ‘About Me” – Manivannan, and went on to add a few bullet points about himself.

That was a moment of happy re-assurance that Deepam’s efforts in ‘lighting the spark’ were indeed paying off. Balaji, who was Manivannan’s mentor on that day couldn’t stop smiling for a long time after this happened.

His day was made !

- Anuradha

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drawing @ Deepam

What a surprise it was to see the Urur Kuppam kids armed with colour pencils for the saturday class – 10th Oct. We had mentioned to them the previous week about a competition announced by Young World, and what participation ! Kishore ran home to fetch A4 sheets for all. And new volunteer Giri chipped in with crayons , that he dashed home to get ! What spirit ! From then on it was several artists at work, each poring over his or her paper, so diligently, and with so much attention to detail. Will attempt to publish the scanned drawings - each more endearing than the other, so you can see the effort and enthusiasm that went into that one hour ! Balaji, Nisha, Giri and I had a great time going around encouraging them, and praising all the effort. (Srini, had to rush to organise the next event)

Interacting with kids is always rewarding. The take-away for us volunteers this time was “diligence” - in even a simple activity like Drawing.

- Anuradha

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Most Memorable Independence Day of My Life

I spent my best Independence Day ever and so did KK, Ram, Archana, and Dr.Karthick. I opened my eyes on 15th August morning to a light drizzle and a cool climate whihc cheered me up instatntly. The lovely weather was a precursor to the day that would follow.

Deepam launched the “Take Home a PC” initiative at the Olcott Memorial High School. A week back Muthuselvi would not dream of an ordinary desktop and now, she got her hands onto an Apple Mac PC.

After the I-Day ceremony concluded at OMHS, Muthuselvi was informed and she was dumb-found and left without any words to express herself. All the teachers at Olcott, headed by the HM Mary Miss and the Director Lakshmi Maam, witnessed and expressed their hopes on Muthuselvi.
After that it was only installling the pc at her place and thats all… it made the best I-Day of my life…

One very important thing to note is Muthuselvi is quite familiar with Windows but we knew she was alien to Mac.This has provided her with one more challenge which we are very sure she can tackle. She is strong on her fundamentals and quite inquisitive by nature. It will be very interesting for a girl of her talent to venture forth and discover new things. After all life is an exploration itself!!!

- Basu

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take Home a PC - First step in a thousand mile journey starts this Saturday

Dear Friends

I am glad to announce the launch of an important an program, "Take home a PC' , which we hope will be a precursor to the ambitious "one laptop per child" program. This is an important milestone in our journey and glad we are able to do it this year..

All of know the importance of computers and its power to transform lives. Many of us have directly benefited from our exposure to information technology and for some of us (like me) it is our livelihood. We are not just talking about computer technology, but leveraging computers as enablers to better the lives of less privileged kids amongst us.

India as a country cannot progress if significant population of our society does not have access to tools that enable them compete in the global economic playing field. With the equal access to educational tools like computers, kids from less privileged background can perform and shine at par with the other kids. That's why we are very excited about the small beginning we are making with Take Home a PC.

our objective is quite simple with Take Home a PC.. Deepam would like to give a PC and possibly access to Internet to every child who successfully complete one year program. This we believe will open the whole new world of possibilities to the kids and their families.

Take Home a PC makes a small beginning this Saturday @ Olcott Memorial High School. We will be giving a PC to an exceptional student who went through our program last year. She is intelligent, bright and more importantly has passion for learning. We are truly delighted to see Muthu being the first recipient of a PC under this program.

We would really appreciate if you can be present @ Olcott for this brief ceremony which will happen along with the Independence day flag hoisting ceremony. Details as under..

Where: Olcott Memorial High School
When: Flag hoisting ceremony starts @ 8:30AM and our program would be around 9:00ish.
Date: Aug 15, 2009

Deepam on India Today

Deepam and our work featured on India Today - the volunteer team represented by Archana and Karthikeyan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Volunteer of the Month :)

Couple of months ago, i got a mail from a guy in 2nd year college enquiring about opportunities to volunteer at Deepam. He was coming back to india on a 2 month vacation from NUS Singapore and wanted to volunteer 'full time' during the 2 months. Archana and I met up with him at a coffee shop and discussed undergraduate studies in India / Singapore mainly and Deepam, on the side. He offered to contribute to the curriculum team and ensure all our class' had a structure to it. He said he would start the next day and visit the deepam centres. On my way back, i was thinking how could a young guy who topped academics all his life, who lived in another country for sometime relate to Deepam and the kids we teach and offer meaning contribution.

And i didn't have to wait too long to know the answer - in a week, he pinged Archana and me, so regularly on Gtalk, that i had to run away !!! ( to earn my living!! ). Not that he was 'time wasting' in any way - he was always bouncing ideas on improving curriculum , fund raising , PR and many more. And on most days during his stay in Chennai, he would work on the ideas he suggested and action them. He worked along with Archana and structured the computer curriculum for Deepam, in no time. He also turned up to teach at Olcott School / KC centres and started to interact with the kids. Slowly, he found new areas to contribute and was contributing everywhere!!! He , on his own initiative, got in touch with NDTV Hindu / local newspapers , to do a story on Deepam. He never discussed getting in touch with NDTV with anyone, till he brought them to do a story on us. He was more 'action' and less 'talk' in areas where he didn't need support.

He didn't stop there. He worked with the 'web team' to do a new website for us ( which will be ready soon ), worked along with Meera to publish a 'Deepam newsletter' and many many more. It was such a pleasant experience for all of us at Deepam, to work with him. He had some fantastic ideas and more importantly 'Executed' them as well. All of his ideas are 'do-able' and was 'rooted' in reality. It was amazing to see this coming from a 20 year old.

Deepam surely benefited through Abhinav and in a lot ways, he exhibits a quality that Deepam aims to follow - More 'action' / 'execution' / 'doing' than just discussing ideas. He is our volunteer of the month :)

Abhinav, with the children at UK Centre.
Receving the volunteer of the month award from Ram, our founder.
Celebrating Abhinav's birthday :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dictionaries for the children

Hello Friends,

Deepam is planning to provide mini-dictionaries to all the children we teach.

If you know any organisations / individual interested to sponsor the dictionaries, please let us know.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deepam Sessions Aug 8-9th weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
Uroor Kuppam 8 Aug 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
Kakkan Colony 8 Aug 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 9 Aug 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Deepam All Hand's Meet (AHM)

Dear Team,
We will have our first AHM next Sunday. Here are the details :

Date : August 9th, Sunday
Time : 4 - 6 pm.
Venue : P S High School, Mylapore, RK Mutt Road, Opposite to Ramkrishna Mission
Agenda: All Deepam volunteers ganging up to meet and discuss about future plans.

Who can Come

This is general body meeting for all Deepam- Bridge The Divide Volunteers. If you are getting mails from from the google group :, or receiving this through a mail, or hearing this from a friend you can simply walk in.

Any problem/doubt ? : Ring me at 99400 64384 or mail at

Forget all formalities, if you want to give-back to the society, Just Be There!!!


PS : Thanks Gopal for arranging this venue for all of us.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Deepam Sessions Aug 1-2 weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
Olcott School 1 Aug 9-30am to 1-00 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Dr.Karthick 9444440713 drkarthick[at]ledentiste[dot]in
Uroor Kuppam 1 Aug 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
Kakkan Colony 1 Aug 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 2 Aug 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

apologies for the late post

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Deepam Sessions July 25-26 weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
UK 25 July 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
KC 25 July 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 26 July 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 18th @ KC

Michael Jackson still enthrals the world. The kids were quite enthusiastic on MJ.They came out with facts which I am sure many of us did not know (well how many of you know about Jackson 5 ??? I did'nt :-) )...

I significant highlight of the week was visit by Dr.Saswati Mukherjee, Professor,Dept. of Computer Science, College Of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University.
Kids kept astounding her with their knowledge on booting, BIOS settings.

Secondly, the kids are participating instead of being .They themselves are volunteering to answer questions,read paragraph.Guess we ahve been succesful in breaking open initial reclusive/shy nature.And this "attitude" was not just among the boys, girls were not far behind in competing.Thirdly,Revathy, a kid from std 6, approached us and asked the print out of the story read last week.This clearly proves, we are able to create a little amount of "interest" in the kids' mind.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Deepam Sessions July 18-19th weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
Olcott School 18 July 9-30am to 1-00 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Dr.Karthick 9444440713 drkarthick[at]ledentiste[dot]in
UK 18 July 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
KC 18 July 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 19 July 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Monday, July 13, 2009

Education in Bodoland

I recently spent almost a fortnight in the heart of Bodoland in Assam.The place was the last Indian village on the India-Bhutan border.I worked with teachers from rural north-east and Women self-help groups.Something interesting the teachers brought out regarding the challenges of education :
1.No safe drinking water
2. No infrastructure - schools do not even have a proper buiding- bamboo structures keeping the students in.
3.Poor attendance - half of te year there are floods and rains and for the other half - Malaria.
4.FIrst generation learners - no support for education from home .
Few take away's that I thought worth mentioning -
1. All classes will ahve some bright students and some slow learners(this is called the Differential Ability Group or the DAG). Teachers will face problem in handling both the higher and the lower ability groups. Simple solution : give the higher group pupils something extra, something higher than the normal class ability level.This will keep him occupied.For the lower ability group - give more tasks that will make him use his hands.USe Activity based learning (ABL).
2. We did not try to tell the teachers what to teach - rather how to teach. Keeping the interest level up for the students is purely on the onus of the teacher.
3. Every 30 -45 seconds there should be some interaction between the teacher and the student.
4. Saw a very good teacher - she started the class by gossiping and asking the students how are they. But gradually she moved into the topic/subject matter.This transition was so seemless, so smooth that the students hardly felt they are learning something. They were like the teacher was still gossiping with them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Deepam Sessions July 11-12th weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
UK 11 July 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
KC 11 July 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 12 July 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Took the plunge

Yep, I finally took a nose-dive into community service and Deepam gave me a one-way ticket. So, on a balmy Saturday morning, with the whispers of the adjacent Bay Of Bengal casting a smile on my face, I found myself at the Olcott School with a bunch of 20-odd teens raring to take on the world with their lofty dreams. All they needed was that little reassurance, or an acqueising smile to show them they were headed in the right direction; that someone actually cared- and we were there to do just that.

The first class, two weeks ago, was mostly about breaking the ice and reaching out to them. This wasn't a problem- after all these were urban kids who seemed quite knowledgeable about issues that Chennai teenagers care about- Kollywood, cricket et all. They were so much into grasping what we intended to offer them that they forgot to give us nick-names (!). Though I found them innocent and unfazed by the journey to adulthood that confronted them, they had a mature side to themselves in that they had concrete plans for their lives, beyond castles in the air that every city teenager loves to build at their age. So much so, that most of them were intent on breaking into the admin/police service while the majority wanted to become software engineers. Of course, the few girls who aspired to be housewives had second thoughts when peals of laughter broke out in the crowd :P

The first class- we took on groups of 4-5 and asked them to quiz us and fill out a form on our behalf and then make a presentation to the class. Quite neatly done, within the schedule too.
Then followed a game of antakshari when we tried to break the routine and all of us were pleased when we realized we could sing without remorse ;). Lastly, we got them to fill out personal forms with their role model and ambition and read them out in class- giving each student his due. In the second class, we carried forward the learn-through-games idea and settled on a simple vocab-building game, which we will expand eventually as they get into the mood. They loved to learn all the states and their capitals (with occasional help from the Atlas) and meticulously wrote them down. They did, of course, stumble with capitals of North-Eastern states, but come to think of it, didn't we too?

So time flew by and before we knew it, four hours had come to an end. One of them asked if me he'd be able to use the laptop soon and I smiled assuringly when he proudly showed me his work-register with his time-table and weekly agendas. The Saturdays, though blank, were pencilled with "Deepam class" on the side- so that's when I realized that we'd sunk our roots firmly at it's time to grow!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Deepam Sessions July 4-5th weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
Olcott School 04 July 9-30am to 1-00 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Dr.Karthick 9444440713 drkarthick[at]ledentiste[dot]in
UK 04 July 2-30 to 4-30 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji/Anu 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
KC 04 July 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 05 July 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scholarship given by PRERNA

Hi Folks,

If you have come across any bright student coming from a poor financial background who has finished his / her 10th standard this year (April 2009) and scored more than 80%, please ask him / her to get in touch with the NGO - Prerana (supported by Infy foundation).

The NGO is conducting a written test and those who clear the test will be eligible for financial help for their further studies. Please ask/help the students to contact the people mentioned below to get the form.

No. 80, Shubhakar, 44th Cross,1st ‘A’ Main Road, Jayanagar 7th Block, Bengalooru

Ms. Saraswati 99009 06338

Mr.Shivkumar 99866 30301 (Hanumanthnagar office)

Ms.Bindu 99645 34667 (Yeshwantpur office)

In case you do not know anyone as such, please pass on the info. Someone might be in need of this help desperately.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Deepam Sessions this weekend

Centre Day Timings Center Location Centre Lead Contact
UK 27 June 2-00 to 4-00 pm Near Besant Nagar Beach Balaji/Anu 9884277487 braghavan[at]gmail[dot]com
KC 27 June 4-30 to 6-30 pm Besant Avenue, near Fruit shop Basu 9940064384 shankarnarayananbasu[at]gmail[dot]com
Pudiyador 28 June 11-00 to 1-00 pm Vannathurai Anupama 9003269018 anupama.s3[at]gmail[dot]com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In need of Computers

Deepam for its classes is in need of computers. Any PC, a Laptop or a Desktop will do. If you would like to give away your computer for a good cause, please call:

+91 98842 77487 Balaji (Chennai)
+91 99003 96775 - Meera (Bangalore)
+91 99720 96773 - Vijay (Bangalore)


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Deepam KC Centre - 3 Stories

These 3 stories made our day at the KC centre on Saturday -

  • Community Participation - Getting the support of the community where we teach, is a good indicator of our progress. On saturday, a political party had planned a meeting in the locality and had brought out the loud speakers. With our teaching centre close by, the voice inside the class was drowned by the songs, which were belted away. When we requested the organisers to 'stop the music', they readily agreed - I even overheard a guy commenting that they should co-operate with Deepam and allow us continue the good work !! Comments like these make the day :)
  • Class participation by the kids - The participation of the kids, at the saturday's class, would put most of the class' i've attended in school / college to shame. Meera Sivakumar did a fantastic job ' facilitating / teaching ' at the class . She prepared for the class and the intensity she brought to the class was a lesson for the rest of us. She was smart in engaging the kids - getting kids to read the slides / asking questions , keeping the kids on their toes. The passion / energy she brought to the class was soon reflected on the students. In a short while, the entire student group was participating in the class. Just reinforces the belief, that a good teacher can ignite a million minds..
  • Word spreads : We have new students joining our class every weekend. Its a happy feeling when a student brings his friend , to join our sessions. Hope this stays .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Deepam Sessions at Pudiyador

Date : June 21st, Sunday
Time : 11 am to 1 pm
Venue: Vannanthurai, Besant Nagar

Agenda: "Know your students" form
PPT of Random Pictures
Personality Slide on Roger Federer
English exercises
Recap of MS-paint and MS-word.

Contact person: Anupama (9003269018)

Please confirm your participation and please note the change in timing.

thanks and regards,

Making India Shine - Thomas.L.Friedman

The Shanti Bhavan school, with 160 students, was started by Abraham George, one of those brainy Indians who made it big in high-tech America. He came back to India with a single mission: to start a privately financed boarding school that would take India's most deprived children and prove that if you gave them access to the same technologies and education that have enabled other Indians to thrive in globalization, they could, too.

I visited Mr. George's school in February, and he took me to a classroom where 8-year-old untouchables were learning to use Microsoft Word and Excel. They were having their computer speed-typing lesson, so I challenged the fastest typist to a race. She left me in the dust — to the cheering delight of her classmates.

Initiative and execution of ideas like these that will make India shine!!! Deepam is surely going that way !!


Via : Meera Shivakumar

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our New Centre- KC centre

Another Centre added to our existing Centres -Deepam spreads literacy to the kids at Kakkan Colony (KC centre) in Besant Nagar from June this year.Here are some of the pics from our first classes at this centre.For any suggestions or to join us kindly mail us on

The students and the volunteers in an interactive session on Sports

Chandana trying to do her best to enlighten them about Roger Federer- The Personality of the Day

Meera helping the kids view the video of the latest French Open.Below are our Volunteers - Shiva, Arun,Chandana and Karthik (KK) helping the students fill out the registration forms.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Roger Vaaram

1.Archana present
2.Arun present
3.Baasu present
4.chandana present
4.kay kay present
5.Meera Present
6.Priya Present
7.shiva present
8..Villu Vijay present

13th june saturday 2009 saw the KC centre overflowing with children bubbling with energy.As soon as we entered the K.C centre,"Tailor akka" said "from now on,every one should be here right on time,and no late commers shall be entertained,and an answer retaliated immidiately saying the volunteers were late!!!" .Archana tried hard to keep the children under her control.The very first activity had the children talking about their favourite sports,and their favourite sports ikons,while most of them voted for sachin,there were a few fans for dhoni,yuvraj and dravid.However the love for tennis was lacking.

Meera provided with us an enlightening session on the life of frederer with a video,his career path and his acheivements.she also went on to explain about what tennis is,what are grand slams all about,and what it means to be a winner of a grand slam on a clay court tournament.

Having learned a little about tennis,kids had their morale boosted with concepts of "Never say die principle of life" and "Failiure is the stepping stone of life".With some playing over,children were tuned (SUN T.V Dinesh got pinched) to some serious thinking of what is a human body,its input devices,its output devices,its processing devices and its memory and the corresponding parts of a computer.

Meera was not satisfied and started asking kids what makes computers different from a laptopand what makes a T.V different from computers,and children picked up signals really fast and answered really fast.After a lot of Whys,kids started filling up the hard copy of the registration forms,during which KK,chandana,shiva and Arun sat down with the kids helping them out.Meanwhile our king KK as usual started making his connection and bonding with the kids and mentoring them.

After registration,children were released,and the observations made were shared among volunteers,and it was found that quite a few of them had problems relating figures and the sounds of alphabets and KK suggested it might be some indication of Dislexia and it was adviced that volunteers in other centres too try and find such children and take extra care of them.
Also volunteers were to function more as mentors,someone who instills great thoughts in them,creates good habbits in them etc.From now on,lets make it a practise to ask children to read newspaper on a daily basis,lets start from tamil papers and move onto english papers.lets also ask them to come back with their favourite news of the week every week.

ok,its time to make a move....head count 1........2...............3.............4.........5............6.........7...... aaaaaaaah where is the eighth person? who is missing? well its baasu!!!,Ada paavingala,proxy puttin here also vaa?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

KC initiation.

The Saturday 6th june saw half a dozen volunteers of Deepam head to kakkan colony in Besant Nagar for the induction of the 4th centre of deepam. We had planned to have an ice breaker session,but the children were quite themselves and did not need it,so we had them sit in groups of four and know about each other.And to our surprise we had children who had great aims in life like DOCTOR saranya,IPS dinesh,CAPTAIN praveen and a lot more,about 19 of them.According to kk's sugesstion,we have decided to call them with those occupational names for the rest of the sessions to keep them motivated to keep coming back and realise their dreams.we plan to have 1year session similar to that of olcott for the KC centre,and do it every saturday from 4.30 to 6.30

We were introduced to KC centre by Basu,A senior from ANNA UNIVERSITY. Archana ran the show at this boxing centre elaborating the kids about what we were planning to do for the next one year,while she committed herself to teach the kids to work with computers,the children offered to teach her speak tamil.Archana played the ring master's role of disciplining the kids,while kk and the others were breaking those "rules".
As one of the missions of Deepam,the children did come out of their shell and came forward to ask us volunteers what we did and what were aims,and named archana as tailor akka,shiva as hotel master shiva,
and the rest of us left unnamed.chandana and ravindra a young budding entreprenuer completed the bunch of 6.

It was decided over the end of the session that we would not have children go home with a home work,rather we would have them come back with a thought every week.shiva suggested that we could arrange for some refreshments after the class,to keep the children coming back.

As always the enthusiasm level with the kids never soared,and they did some brilliant guess work trying to figure out the multipersonality disorder with computers having different names such as desktop,laptop and palmtops.
For the next 1 year, Saturdays 4.30-6.30pm will see kakkan colony colony centre bustling with activity and is open to everyone to volunteer in teaching these children the basics of computers, general awareness,english knowledge and personality development.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Know About Deepam #2

Is Deepam aiming at replacing teachers in Schools ?
No, not at all. Deepam, infact, complements students' learning through the teachers. Deepam believes that good teachers at school can never be replaced. They get students inspired and capture their attention. They have the best opportunity to shape the students. Most of the teachers do a fantastic job with meagre rewards. Deepam aims to provide a little bit extra that a school teacher is unable to provide, as a result of workloads / other demands. Deepam enables students to be 'well rounded' on top of the foundation that a school teacher has laid.

I am a part of the Deepam google group and i want to contribute. But i don't know how.
  1. Mail your questions to the googlegroup and one of the group members will answer
  2. Visit class' - You will understand the way Deepam operates and you will know how you can contribute
  3. Just hit reply and respond to mails requesting for 'volunteers'
  4. Just hit reply to this mail :)
What is required from me, to teach at a centre ?
  1. Enthusiasm and interest to work with kids
  2. Two hours to spare on 1 day, during the weekend + commute time
  3. 15 mins of preparation before the class
I would like to help in other activities as well. What do i do ?

  1. You can help in fund raising / partnerships etc - Please talk to Rahul / Meera
  2. You can help in designing curriculum - Please talk to Vijay / Archana
  3. Anything at all - Just mail the group
For Know About Deepam #1 - Please go here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Deepam Scholarship

Team, has come forward to support deserving students for their 
education. Criteria and other stuffs as below

1) Should be part of 'Deepam' and should have attended minimum 10 classes 
2) Should be studying above 9th std
3) Should have decent academic record (above 70%)
4) Should prove their economic need
5) Would be nice if the student has some refernce like shool prinicpal

About Nanmai 
1) is one who are looking to sponser this scholarship 
2) Nanmai would provide 50% of fees/year (75% fees/year if the 
background is really poor) 
3) Nanmai would also provide them with necessary books and notebooks. 
4) Nanmai will not provide any cash as such. We need to list of 
things required and they would provide 

What we need to do
1) We need to select 10 students matching above criteria
2) Students can be from any centres
3) Would be nice if there is atleast one from each centre
4) Identify such candidates and let me know
5) We have quite a bit of opertional stuff to follow, we can do that once we identify candidates.

Note: It is already early June, we need to hurry up.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Know About Deepam #1

Deepam was formed to bridge the divide between the privileged and the under-privileged and help the under-privileged kids with access to more opportunities through education. Since computers and internet are/will-be all pervasive and hence, a basic skill requirement in the future, Deepam aims to impart the computer / internet knowledge to the kids. To take advantage of this knowledge, kids also require the ability to communicate well through a global language. English communication skills form another important focus at Deepam. In addition, to ensure the kids grow up to be a confident and a well-rounded person, Deepam also works on kids' general awareness and personality development. These 4 areas are Deepam's key focus areas - 

  1. Computer / Internet Knowledge
  2. English Communication Skills
  3. Personality Development
  4. General Awareness
Deepam - A Society of people with similar interests
Deepam is modelled as a society of people who are interested in bridging the divide through education. Deepam is a not-for-profit society. It is owned by Deepam community and not 'individuals'.

Deepam Programs
To implement the objectives, Deepam has 4 groups

  1. Deepam Educate - Operates all the teaching centres, where kids are taught. Co-ordinates with the teaching volunteers and ensures that class' go on smoothly as planned. This group also develops curriculum material.
  2. Friends of Deepam - This group builds partnerships with external organisations, to enable Deepam's reach its goals. Fund raising , Computer / Laptop donations etc are handled by this group
  3. Deepam Stars - Stars are Deepam kids who have displayed exceptional attitude towards education. These kids are hand-picked for financial scholarships through this group.
  4. Deepam Lead - This group identifies / trains volunteers for various activities of Deepam. In addition, they also identify new 'Deepam Educate' teaching centres where kids can be taught.

How can you help ?
Deepam aims to fulfill its objectives through volunteer involvement. The group is modelled to enable anyone to take initiatives that further the education of the kids. Deepam welcomes intiatives and execution by all volunteers. Further, there is a core team that helps coordinate the activities of Deepam. This team comprises of individuals who have contributed to Deepam by taking initiatives and executing them. As more individuals contribute, this core team would expand and enable our operations in more teaching centres.

Anyone can volunteer - we need people to

  • Teach kids
  • Organise class'
  • Develop curriculum
  • Raise funds / build partnerships
  • Communicate the Deepam idea
  • And many more
Please write to / , if you wish to volunteer. The appropriate group leader will get in touch.

If you have questions, please respond to this mail.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Samaritan at Work- Deepam Member on Goergo

Goergo had a story yesterday on Basu- one of our first few volunteers to teach at Deepam's Olcott high school centre.This beautiful article covers his journey as a software engineer at Infosys to a full time teacher at Olcott high school now. Well Done Basu! We are proud of ya !!!! The online version can be found here

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Deepam" on Goergo

Goergo has a story on Deepam in today's ' paper. Deepa, the journalist had interviewed the students and volunteers last week. This beautiful article covers our previous and current activities and highlights some of our future plans. The picture is from our very first batch that started in April 2008. The online version can be found here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Deepam - The Journey Begins

Archana has made a video , capturing the 'start' of the Deepam Journey. Please take a look and spread word

Deepam Fellows 2008

We are happy to announce the Deepam Fellows Program - Every year, the volunteers who had made a big impact on the endeavours of Deepam will be made the 'Deepam Fellow', in recognition of their contribution. This year we have 3 volunteers who have made significant contributions to Deepam in 2008. They were awarded a certificate and a memento, at the anniversary celebrations

Anbu :

The guy's commitment levels are phenomenal - he commutes 4 hours every saturday, to teach the kids for 2 hours. He also 'connects' with the kids easily - he understands the kids and speaks their 'language'. His ability to draw the kids out and engage them are truly worth emulating. 

Mohan :

The one guy who truly doesn't understand IST - he is always ahead of time, for every single class / meeting - truly, a students' nightmare !!! Being a fast runner, helps! There has been very few times he missed teaching on Saturdays. The most regular feature at the Nalamdana centre.

Bhargav :

He has a gift of explaining concepts to the students - His methods of giving examples makes students visualize the concepts and understand them easily. This regular at Nalamdana centre ( along with Archana and Mohan ) is responsible for the regular high turnout ( over 95% attendance ) for all the sessions .

Deepam 1st Anniversary Celebration

"I have not seen a bunch of kids as happy and contented as these kids are " mentioned Rahul Nayar, as he observed the kids at the Deepam 1st anniversary celebrations. The life of Deepam, these kids made the anniversay a very special day for all of us, who were present at the celebrations. The Nalamdana centre at the olcott kuppam , venue for the event, was charged with enthusiasm and energy - thanks to the kids, the chief guests and the volunteers. 

The MC's for the event, Basu and Meera, keeping the kids engaged..

 We had a special person talking to these kids on Saturday - Sarath Babu - He was truly 'one of them' . As he stood in front , sharing his rags to riches story, one could see the kids getting inspired. The room went silent , as the kids and the volunteers were in rapt attention.

 Sarath interacting with the kids

Kiruba, the other chief guest, in his usual way , engaged the kids with an interesting story and conveyed a nice 'life-lesson' across.

It was a  year ago, when Ram , our mentor, suggested we go to govt schools and teach kids there. His point was simple - 'Lets start small , 2 or 3 of us can go teach at a local school but the focus should be on making an impact ' . Since then, he not only taught the kids, but the volunteers as well.

Kids presenting a memento to Ram
Ram announced a scholarship program for kids - 5 deserving kids ( Deepam Stars ) will get all their education expense covered for 2009-2010.

The anniversary cake , cut by the kids

We also had performances from kids - Nalamdana Centre girls mellifluously sang a popular tamil song

These kids can sure shake a leg..

All the winners of the  cultural events were awarded medals. Kids got participation certificates as well.

Its the volunteers , who work tirelessly, who have helped Deepam make an impact. They were awarded certificates as well. Anupama's commitment to pudhiyador center is outstanding.
Meera who comes to Chennai every weekend, from Bangalore - She and her husband Vijay, teach on saturdays and sundays, every weekend

Archana, who puts in a lot of energy and helped build Deepam, gets the certificate from Ram

The start has been good - The 1st year flew by. It can only get better !

A big thanks to all the kids and the volunteers ! 

P.S More photos can be found here