My trip to Swasthya Swaraj : Computer Lessons

This is a post in continuation of my attempt to share lessons from my visit to Swasthya Swaraj Society. Swasthya Swaraj is a secular, not-for-profit, organization working towards making health a reality for the poorest and unreached. Swasthya Swaraj has set up a model community health programme – Swasthya Swaraj Comprehensive Community Health Programme in the tribal-dominated Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi district in Odisha, India.

During my stay at SS, I also took lessons in Computer skills development, mainly Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. The total number of students were 6, so I divided them in two groups of 3 each and focused on practical training. I tried to teach them how to create documents in MS Word with practical knowledge of headings, font, table creation etc and in MS Powerpoint my focus was to help them understand its utility and how it can used as a tool to disseminate information or present some reports/findings. These sessions were of longer duration and mostly took half of the day. The students had a playful and experimenting attitude. As I was observing the students, I went back to memory lane to my college days when I had felt the touch pad for the first time on laptop (2009) and was struggling with it. I remembered how I had learnt it – observing an M.Tech student using it. Getting comfortable with mouse and touchpad takes some time and the students were experiencing it. They exhibited quick learning curve in computer and whenever I’d ask them before a class, “Computer or Maths” they used to declare “Computers”. My decision would often be based on what they needed more practice in and mathematics always had an upper edge.

Students of Diploma in Community Health Practices learning in Computer Training Class. 

My decision to focus on technology and mathematics in an applicative and practical way was based on my own experience of their tremendous utility in day-to-day life. I usually read a lot on women in STEM and the opportunity at Kaniguma presented a good platform to seed that in the minds of students. As most of things these days are based on technology and computers, I felt that it was important to show them how computers make our lives easier in work-related ways. In the brief time that I had I tried to tell the most important things, tremendously helped by Mr. Sudhakar Reddy. I taught them MS word by giving them writing assignments with features that involved experimenting with multiple options in MS Word. These assignments were done in class as I helped them when they got stuck. Thus, it was sort of, a training like that on a sports ground. I also helped them understand the use of tables and how they can be inserted in a document. Later on, all of us learned MS Powerpoint by creating a presentation titled, “Father of Nation – Mahatma Gandhi”. Through this activity, I intended to make them understand the concept behind Powerpoint and its utility. I also emphasized on the difference between ClipArt images and images saved on computer. BSNL is still not available at Kaniguma village, hence internet is not available except for that on mobile devices.

I was satisfied by myself with the computer classes more than those of mathematics classes, yet that is not a delight to me particularly. To my unaware-city eyes, most things looked normal but I know that beneath the appearance of peace and silence, lie truths of tribal health challenges and acute lack of quality education. These very few personal observations have bombarded me with questions and I see myself tongue-tied. Something appears to be changing in me. The city noise does not knock on my ear drums now; I choose to retire with myself and my thoughts in my room and all that runs on my mind is Kaniguma, those 12 days at Swasthya Swaraj and so much more learning that I can never imagine.

Long Live Swasthya Swaraj.

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