Not Just IT

Words and pictures are not enough to describe today, I have been privileged to witness something very special indeed.

Our journey today has felt like a week of experiences in one day, in a good way. First we visited a school sponsored by Sopra Steria, the Bhuvana Krishna matriculation hr sec school in Chennai, where we were greeted by the school elders and a marching band.

Here I cut the ribbon to their new computer room, with 40 computers provided by Sopra Steria, and met some of the students who then had lunch with us. It was a wonderful experience seeing first hand the difference that the Sopra Steria CSR programme makes here in India and not just with IT. The programme also sponsors the schools and Sopra Steria staff volunteer to work at these schools, where they:

  • Mentor the kids through their education
  • Support the families and communities
  • Run summer camps
  • Organise sports days
  • Run arts and crafts workshops
  • Provide guidance on life after school
  • Provide female guidance on life as a woman in India.

Sopra Steria didn’t even start helping this school with IT equipment until later. Not Just IT.

After lunch we were shown around the Sopra Steria Campus; set in 27 acres of landscaped gardens, before meeting the scholars and alumni from the schools in Chennai. Some of the proud parents were also there. One girl was studying two degree courses through Sopra Steria, and was looking to become a chartered accountant in the public sector.

Lastly, we visited the Punjab association destitute home for children; an orphanage, where we were met by 200 children of all ages from 5 to 18. We were then honoured by the lighting of candles as a symbolisation in readiness for Diwali, where Ganesh was surrounded by rings and rows of candles. After this ceremony a bell rang and all the children ran off. They came running back to the dining room with their plates where we helped serve them their dinner, which was provided by Sopra Steria. The children in the home were incredibly sweet, wanting to engage with us and to see photos of my home in Tockenham and the countryside of the UK.

This home really was a home; it felt just like a big family. All the kids were smiling and saying positive things about Sopra Steria and the home. One girl we met earlier at the scholars’ event was now studying to be a lawyer and is in the 2nd year of her course. She is a bright student who was originally a resident at the home.

Authored by John Gough.

An early start for an experience of a lifetime

Wednesday Kim and I had an early start; our taxi took us to the airport at 5am so we were both up at 4am – 11.30pm UK time!

We arrived at the hotel just in time to join the Sopra Steria Community Day in Pune a Share & Support Day in the Sheraton Hotel Pune, the ceremonies started with the lighting of a Deepam, which signifies the removal darkness from the mind and heart of a person. An oil Deepam signifies the light of knowledge, which dispels the darkness of ignorance. It shines itself and causes the objects around it, to shine due to its reflection by giving knowledge, wisdom and intelligence.

After introduction from Gayathri the programme began which included a quiz competition between 8 Sopra Steria supported schools and amazing cultural performances by primary school children and scholars and Sopra Steria staff and even hotel staff. Apart from representatives of schools, children, scholars, we as representatives of 6 countries across Europe also joined in the celebrations with a sing along to Head Shoulders, knees and toes, in each of our native languages, which had everyone on their feet dancing to the same song.

Anil Gokarn was the environment speaker – founder of ProEarth Ecosystems in who process 3.5 tons per day of organic waste processing across 40 odd locations in areas of Pune. His talk and video  on  environmental issues, and particularly climate change, was well received and certainly brought home how this is a global problem that everyone needs to be involved with, seeing so many of the young generations in the room.

The dancing, singing, and guitar playing was of the highest standard and again brought tears to my eyes watching such beautiful performances. Something Kim and I would not have missed for the world. It was amazing to know these young students and scholars had put so much into not only their own educations, but outside of study preparing for this day.

After the event, we had Indian buffet and were able to speak with all of the scholars, students and teachers. The day for me was special, these kids are following their dreams and knowing that Sopra Steria is there helping making the journey even better with the support and encouragement of the SSIF was an honour to see. 

Proof of this was shown in one of the posters at the event of the 660 beneficiaries of the scholarships.

  • 422 completed courses
  • 245 engineering courses completed
  • 5 medicine completed
  • 410 other courses completed
  • With 238 still benefitting from the programme 

Dreams can happen

By John Gough

Our first day – One we’ll both never forget.

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