The world is pretty complicated. Making it simple place to live is the responsibility of every individual. The invention of Internet has triggered the avalanche of digital millennium. With multi folded advancements in technology over the past 3 decades, machine taking over mankind, there are millions of people who are still devoid of access to the current technologies. When a weak Wifi signal reminds us about the importance of Internet, there are millions of people who don’t even know about its existence. The web is not evenly distributed. An ideal and equal distribution of web and its resources is the major issue to fight for. We stand for Open Web, we fight for digital equality and we are out to TeachTheWeb because we are the scouts of ‘Mozilla Web Maker’.
To create awareness about Internet among as many people as possible, myself with the help of many other energetic volunteers of Mozilla, have initiated a number of campaigns focused at WebLiteracy. The major audience being the kids from rural and remote localities, we targeted the schools in these areas. Our motto is to teach them how to read, write and participate in the web.
Campaign 1 : Web literacy at the Rice Bowl of Tamilnadu.
Thanjavur is considered as the agricultural capital of Tamilnadu(Southern state of India), we chose this as the venue for our first campaign. This was planned to be around April month of 2014, Starting from 3rd April and till 3rd May. 5 volunteers,associated to Open Source club of my University have stepped up voluntarily to be part of this digital literacy campaign. Namely, Sai Kiran, Dileep Reddy, Dharan Reddy, Madhav Reddy, Sandeep Kumar were of tremendous help in putting up this one.
Initially we set a target of visiting 9 schools which are located remotely and not privileged for resources, To teach 1000 kids about Internet and make them web literate. When we had a bunch of teachers form the schools attending our sessions, we recognised the opportunity and held separate sessions for Teachers.Targeted at Education Trends and Maker Moment, the sessions made us feel like ‘We are champions of Open Web’.
We carried our laptops and Internet Dongles to make them aware of the boom in Internet and to update them with current trends.. I was on cloud nine when we reached the number of 1000 as soon as we visited 7 schools. By the end of the campaign we had 1346 Web Literates, including Students and Teachers form 9 schools.
Story of a Connected Dot
Around march month of 2015 myself with a set of college friends had to stop near a village while on a Fun trip to a village, A kid(around 10 years) came close to me, recognised me and started telling to her friends, ‘Firefox Anna Vandirikka, vanga vanga'(Firefox Brother has come, People come here). I was dumbstruck and recollected the school which I have visited a year ago as part of the campaign which is in the same village. It was a goosebumps moment when a kid of such tender age recognises me after 1 year that too with the name ‘Firefox Anna’. I couldn’t recollect her name so asked her and she is ‘Lakshmi’. I was a happy man.
The way I stand up for fighting social issues, attracts the people around me, and the lack of Internet Education in this Tech-Generation is definitely a social issue. I’ve made myself to take this up as my responsibility on behalf of Mozilla and now I am proud to be the initiator of another web literacy campaign ‘Summer Safari’, through which I have won hundreds of hearts, “unknowingly “.
Though it took some time for me to choose a definite path of contribution while volunteering for Mozilla, it was never late protect the open web. I felt happy when I teach people about Internet and there I go, I have planned for another campaign, a bigger one this time and with a bigger team and in a larger landscape. The initial plan was to visit 12 rural schools, 3 public parks and educate about Internet and to reach 1300 people in total.
The team includes Myself, Shruthi, Sujith, Santosh, Spoorthi, Praneeth, Navya, Yadgiri and Vishnu. Few of them were mozillians, few were very new to Mozilla contributor community but everyone of them were excellent in teaching kids. The pre campaign planning happened close to lat week of may. It was peak summer with 104 degrees heat outside, nothing could stop us form reaching the goals of the campaign. The core principle of the Team-Summer Safari, is to educate the kids about Internet and even to provide hands on experience with laptops. The Summer Safari Team, list of schools, goodies for kids, everything was ready, and we started out with tremendous passion, enthusiasm and energy.
The strategy, 9 of us would visit a school, we split in to 4 teams, each team assigned to teach 50 students in total. Many times school teachers would also attend the sessions. Information packed sessions would last for 1 and a half hours and followed by various ice breakers. The second half would commence for another 2 hours and concluded with swag distribution.
We taught them how to utilise the resources of Internet and to dodge the dangerous aspects of the Web and inevitably they loved using Firefox and got to know about Mozilla. Reaching out to 12 schools, TaughTheWeb to 1405 student-teacher community, campaigned in 2 local parks to create awareness about Net neutrality, good numbers marked a happy conclusion of these chain of events.
Story of a Connected Dot
The event has become talk of the town, it spread like a wildfire in our locality, to my goodness, I got a phone call, form Mr. Ramesh, a news reporter of Eenadu Newspaper, a renowned one in our State. That was a 25 minute telephonic interview, experiencing first of this kind ever.
When the event along with my photograph got published in newspaper the very next day, that moment literally I had no words. We didn’t expect any kind of materialistic benefits out of the event when we were about to start, but when it ended, it gave the prime and basic emotions to satisfy a person, Love from the kids(to whom we taught), Parents’, Friends’, relatives’ appreciation & Recognition in my locale and many more.
Campaign 3: Teach the web, at the IT Hub
Another amazing campaign to talk about. This is the outcome of our previous campaign at Hyderabad. Born and bought up in Hyderabad, I have good information about the locality. While organising sessions at schools during our previous campaign, we have got information about through school teachers that there are many other schools close by, which are devoid of resources and are lack of web literacy. We gathered every bit of such information, made a topic out of this to discuss about during our ‘after campaign gathering’ of ‘Summer Safari’.
We hence formed a team of 7, Myself, Sujith, Santosh, Vishnu, Vijay, Aruna and Sruthi, to fight for the cause, another episode in making as many webliterates as possible. Yet another fantastic set of sessions reaching out to 9 schools in total. The numbers amounted to 946 WebLiterates, 912 students and 32 teachers.
The kids were happy to know about the most essential communication and information tools existing at finger tips. They wouldn’t let go of any opportunity to learn more about technology in coming months thereafter.
Story of a Connected Dot
I would frequently point at my T-Shirt when I use the term ‘FireFox’, no wonder I wear these FSA T-Shirts to almost every event. When I teach them how to browse internet, they teach me how to learn. When I was teaching them about how to make use Internet to follow your passion, a kid has made a beautiful sketch up fox and gifted it to me. That was an inspiring moment, though he is not listening to my lecture he loved to sketch the fox, he was following his passion.
Campaign 4: Webliteracy at Visakhapatnam
Yet another amazing campaign to talk about. All these days, my contributions were majorly focused at Webmaker and TeachTheWeb in specific localities, close to my University and my home town. Now, I need to spread these activities across demographies to add value to lives of many more people by teaching them about Web. Though Vishakapatnam is proclaimed as the best city of the state Andhra Pradesh, still hundreds of schools and thousands of students lack the knowledge of Internet. Yet again, I looked at the grass root problem and made myself to take up this challenge. Targeted at 10 schools and to make 1000 web literates, in a span of 4 days.
The time constrain is the real challenge and yet we came up with a new strategy. I thank the members of M0zilla Club, GITAM University for stepping forward to make this happen, in a fantastic way. The ‘day 1’ was totally invested in travelling to the targeted school to seek permissions for organising these sessions. 50 FSAs were trained on the ‘day two’ on how to ‘TeachTheWeb’. They were divided in to 10 teams, 5 per team and provided with all the teaching kits. One team would be visiting 1 school and in total 10 teams would be visiting 1o schools, on ‘day three’. Perfect planning and excellent execution, kudos to all the volunteers for your time and energy.
On ‘Day 4’, we had a formal ‘after event gathering’, every volunteer was up with a unique, fresh and inspiring story about their visit schools. I could see the happiness in their eyes for becoming part of this initiative. They’ve got enough inspiration and training to carry out many events of this kind in the coming future. The credits goes to PSV Ramaraju, Akshay Tiwari and Jagadeesh vattikonda for making a big one.
Spell bound for a moment after looking at the numbers, we concluded with 10 schools, 1408 webliterates (Students and teachers) and touching the lives of every one of them by equipping them with the most important resource to survive in 21st century, The Internet.
We have just created a dot, I would let you know as soon as it gets a connection.
40 Schools so far, 5105 Web literates and innumerable smiles.
This is a saga, To be continued…….