Techies aid Lankan children City IT professionals go soft on refugees

[The Asian Age, Date: 04-07-2002 Bangalore Page 9&10]

Bangalore, July 3: Four city-based organisations have decided to come to the rescue of the Indira Gandhi International Academy, a city-based residential school for Sri Lankan refugees. The school is managed by the Chennai-based Bright Society nd recently fell short of its daily supply of ration for students due to a funds crunch.

   Honeywel Sotware, Hewlett-Packard, Technology for Social Action ( a group of software professionals) and the Rotary Brigades have come forward to sign a pact of assistance withthe school. "The pact wil ensure our commitment to the school and will have to be approved bythe respective orgainsations. We intend to sign the pact in two weeks, " charter president of Rotary Brigades, Prasad Sundaram told The Asian Age.

   With this, the school is assured of a constant supply of basic amenities for coming years. "As all the transactions would be accounted for, there would be transparency and efficiency as the needs of children are of paramount importance," Mr. Prasad added. The school currently has 285 Sri Lankan children with 166 boys and 120 girls.

  Even though the Bright Society provided the initial financing ever since the school began in 1991, it was essential for philanthropisits to pitch in to keep the institution functioning. The co-ordinated effort from the organisations could not be better timed, considering the fact the Rotary Brigades had exhausted the grant of Rs. 4.6 lakh obtained from the Rotary International for the purpose.

   Interestingly, the ongoing talks with the Sri Lankan minister and the Tamil Nadu chief minister on shifting back refugees to the island do not seem to have deterred the inflow or outflow of the children to the IGIA.

  "We are aware of the talks but this has not affected our school. We recently got 35 more students for the current academic year," adinistration in-charge, IGIA, Deni Class said. Mr. Deni, who himself was a refugee and student, has taken over the administration of the school ever since the disappearance of one Periambanayakam (also known as Narasimhan), who was chosen as chief adinistrator of the school in 1997. Periambanayakam was from Baticoloa in eastern Sri Lanka.

   IGIA was started in 1991 with the agenda of providing basic education to the childrenwho mostly came from approximately 111 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.  It has also received five computers from the Rotary Brigades and will soon have Internet facilities.

   Since the past two years, Rotary along with Hewlett-Packard have been paying salaries to the teachers. There is however a feeling among those involved that more needs to be done by people who are willing to espouse such worthy causes.