Today was a very emotional day for both Kim and myself; we visited the Shri Ghanshyam Sharma Memorial High School, Uttar Pradesh. One of the schools supported by Sopra Steria.
Greeted by the school principal with garlands of flowers on our first day, we were anointed with Tilaaka on our foreheads to honor our visit; we then proceeded to walk in to the school with chants of welcome from the students and showers of rose petals.
After introductions, six of the pupils serenaded us, before the younger boys demonstrated their skills and knowledge, asking us for our names and telling us the capital cities of each country they knew of.
We then proceeded to each class in turn, telling them about ourselves while we passed around their mid-morning snacks. We spent some time with some of the primary school age children helping them with their reading ending the day with the planting of a tree, as a reminder of our visit.
I have never experienced such joy seeing as I had visiting the children, who were as interested in us as we were in them, the hardest part was to leave the school at just after lunch.
Such was the enthusiasm; I could have stayed there all day. It was a truly moving experience and one that brought tears to my eyes – It was a beautiful experience and made better knowing that it was only through the hard work and dedication of the Sopra Steria CSR team and Sopra Steria worldwide that has made this work of the SSIF possible.
For lunch, we were invited to visit the principal’s house for a lavish spread of Indian delicacies, each cooked by his wife. The food was delicious and I made a particular point of thanking the lady of the house for her hard work. We felt part of the family at their house, meeting not only the Principal’s family but also his close relatives and the other teacher and village leaders. It was a fantastic end to our first visit to one of the Sopra Steria’s sponsored schools.
Later that afternoon we proceeded to Nodia and visited the Sopra Steria Head Offices in Sector 134, a very impressive setup with over 3000 employees working there.
We visited the crèche and had a tour of the building, we learnt so much From Gayathri Mohan about the SSIF and the schools programme and its history of how it started over ten years ago, when a security guard asked for help with his daughters education.
The SSIF is engaged with over 50 schools across India, touching the lives of over 75000 children from some of the most challenged sections of society. It sponsors over 660 children studying in colleges whose entire education is funded by Sopra Steria, under the Sopra Steria India Foundation Graduate Scholarship Scheme.
An inspiration and a day we both will never forget.
By John Gough