Aug 9, 2015.
It was through meeting Ms. Dayamudra Dennehy of#JaiBhimInternational, we learnt about Sakya Hostels. Hence during my August India Trip, planned a trip to Sakya Hostels in Manali New Town in Chennai. It was Sunday evening and started the journey from Chennai Airport to Manali New Town. Fact that I did entered Manali and not Manali New Town lead us to a different address. After few phone calls to the hostel, we got onto the right path. As we started getting closer, the tar road became an unpaved road and the unpaved road became uneven road. Reached the hostel around 6 pm.
Was received by Jagan, Nancy and the volunteer team with smiling faces. As I entered, we sat outside, not disturbing the ongoing evening meditation by the kids. This provided an opportunity to learn about Sakya Hostels. Genesis for the hostel started when the founding team saw the unbelievable damage Tsunami had caused in the lives of dalit families. While most of the organizations focussed on short term relief, founding team of Sakya hostels focussed on the longer term need, specifically educating the kids. Hence Sakya Hostel was created and the team started with few kids and as time went on, they started getting referrals of needy kids, such as kids of indentured laborers, construction workers etc. Since the starting, 13 kids have continued on to become college students, three of whom are still staying in the hostel. Was very inspiring to meet these three college kids, one is doing B. Tech in Computer Engineering, the other one is doing B.Tech in Bio Technology and the other is doing a Bachelor in Botany. There I was, right in front of my eyes, seeing the positive change created by providing opportunity for good place and education.
Currently there are 43 students, roughly 50% boys and 50% girls. They all go to government schools that are very close to the hostel (5 minutes walking distance). In addition to Jagan and Nancy, there are two cooks. Other than these team members, everyone else is a volunteer. Had an interactive session with the kids. While questions were slow to come by at the beginning, they started warming up after a few questions. The session I enjoyed the most was when they talked about their aspirations. Similar to what I heard in Kandavarayanpatti, the careers ranged from Teachers to IPS officers to Engineers to Advocates. When we did a trial of the Tamil Khan Academy video, I could feel the excitement in the air.
We then discussed about the use of Khan Academy videos. The feedback I got from the team was that it is better to get the videos with Tamil voiceover rather than English videos with Tamil subtitles. Made a mental note to start ramping the voiceover efforts.
Since I had prior commitment for a dinner meeting,much to the disappointment of the kids and the team, I had to decline having dinner with the kids and the volunteer team. Bid them good by promising that I will join them for dinner during the next visit. It was quite an inspiring and fulfilling visit. Was happy to have found a deserving center where Tamil Khan Academy videos will be put to good use.