Chaitanya Charitable Trust (CCT) – What a wonder and a pleasure it has been

We are down to our final day in Jamnagar, and it is quite bittersweet!
Here Peter, Keith, and I are with Durga, one of the amazing teachers at the Happy Children Center we have had the pleasure of getting to know over the the past month!

IBM CSC India 20 has been receiving some attention in the press this week, which is great!
IBM announces community projects in Jamnagar as part of its CSC Program
IBM collaborates with NGOs in Jamnagar
IBM partners with NGOs on community projects in Jamnagar

Yesterday, we presented our final presentation to the client, which was very well received, we had a farewell lunch with our clients, Hitesh and Kajal, which was very festive, and we took a lot of pictures with / said our goodbyes to the children at the Happy Children Center. It was a wonderful day, and it was both a relief to have completed such a comprehensive project and also very sad to get in our auto-rickshaw and drive away from the slums for the last time.

One regret, from a blogging perspective, is that I did not spend enough time talking about the project itself. My colleague Keith has done a wonderful job summarizing it in his blog, which I encourage you to read. Keith’s Blog on CCT In summary, we worked with an amazing non-profit organization, the Chaitanya Charitable Trust, that is small, but mighty, and is providing desperately needed services in the areas of education, public health, humanitarian efforts, and women’s trade and empowerment in some of the most under-served and forgotten slum areas in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Find more information on their website or on Facebook.

Here are some of the many services provided by Chaitanya, including daycare, sewing classes, and supplemental education (the focus of our project) at the Happy Children Center.

Our project focused on helping Chaitanya build a five-year strategy plan to expand its Happy Children Center programs in order to serve even more children in the slums. The program is amazing, because it literally takes place in the slums where the children live, and unlike public, government schools which are rote and uninspiring, the Happy Children Center’s whole purpose is to create an environment which encourages “Learning with Fun.” The smiles on their faces, show you just how successful this program is at achieving this mission.

The past four weeks have been amazing, and I could not have asked for a better team than the dynamic duo of Keith and Peter! In a rare moment of levity below, the guys having some fun and one of our auto-rickshaw rides home.
Peter is a technical genius; he single handedly re-designed Chaitanya’s entire website and showed steadfast German determination in the two-week back-and-forth exchange with PayPal, finally winning the battle of proof of address and getting the much needed PayPal link set-up on Chaitanya’s site to enable seamless, one-click donations. As the team’s unofficial social director, he helped the whole team balance the rigors of the project with fun outings and team dinners. Here he is with three of his biggest fans and enjoying one of his favorite Indian traditions, drinking Chai tea.

Keith is our master translator, tireless cheerleader, and PR magician. In just a few short weeks, he was able to create local contacts for Chaitanya and bridge relationships that had not been touched in years if ever. He wrote countless templates and proposals, sent emails, made phone calls, and facilitated several intimidating in-person meetings. As the “senior” person on our team, he was a trusted source for the client, and always a patient translator for the team (especially when I talked to fast, imagine that?!) His humor and positive attitude kept us going in some interesting situations over the past few weeks. Here he is making us laugh at the market and enjoying an Indian banana split.

It has been a pleasure working with both of these guys over the last four weeks, and I will be sad to see them both go. However, I know they will both have countless other fantastic adventures as they continue their travels in the north of India over the next few weeks!

Few more images from the last few weeks,
DSC00621 DSC01012 DSC01004DSC00975 DSC00974DSC00955DSC00958 DSC00957DSC00650Asheesh DSC01061DSC00984DSC00974

Tomorrow, we leave for Mumbai, and while it is sad to see this project come to an end, it has been a truly wonderful experience I will never forget!!

For all of my family and friends back home celebrating, best wishes for a happy, healthy, and sweet New Year! May 5774 be your best year yet! In honor of the holiday, I will be partaking in the traditional apples and honey with my India 20 CSC teammates this evening 🙂

Last but not least, very Happy Birthday wishes to my dad who is celebrating a big birthday tomorrow. I love you and hope you have a great day!

Thank you to everyone who followed along on the blog and for all of the encouraging emails, posts, and words of support over the last month!!!


Around the bend

Here we are, the beginning of our last week in Jamnagar, which is quite bittersweet. Happy Labor Day to friends and family celebrating the long weekend at home!! Thanks for all of the positive inquiries into when the next blog would be 🙂

After two amazing weeks in India, I was temporarily sidelined with some sickness last week, but am happy to report I am on the mend, feeling much better, ready to resume my blogging duties!

As we head into the home stretch, we are heads down working on the final report and presentation, here is the team hard at work yesterday.


Will certainly post more later, especially about the project specifics, but in the meantime, below was my punjabi debut!  It was a huge success; earning a lot of compliments from students and staff alike 🙂