Dear friends of Wheels Global Foundation,
Thanks to your support and good wishes, another year has gone by with major accomplishments and activities for scaling philanthropic work through application of technology solutions.
We started the year with an important conference organized by WHEELS India Nishwarth (WIN) Foundation and supported by WHEELS Global Foundation and IEEE at IIT Gandhinagar in April 2019 with over 700 participants. This was a follow on to our earlier conference held in Nov 2018 in Philadelphia where we adopted an Integrated Approach to Rural Development. At the IIT Gandhinagar event, we unveiled our white paper on “Developing Smart Villages” in collaboration with several other NGOs with WGF and the IITs as their Technology partner. The conference adopted “INNOVATE AND EMPOWER TO ACCELERATE SOCIAL CHANGE” as the theme. The audience included attendees with diverse backgrounds including academia, research, non-profit sector, developmental sector, industry, government, startups, entrepreneurs and students.
The topics covered included:
- How to prioritize health including Maternal and Child health (MCH)
- Interventions to eliminate under-nutrition among children
- Role of Technology/ Innovations in rural development
- Water conservation, security and management
- Water Recycling and purification
- Sanitation, sewage, solid waste systems and management
Meanwhile, WIN Foundation initiated major partnerships and projects with IIT Bombay, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Kharagpur, and Indian Institute of Public Health. One of the major outcomes was innovative new technology for application of carbon nano-tube and Capacitive Deionization in lieu of Reverse Osmosis to purify water. Also, during the conference, we helped distribute teaching materials on Women’s Health and Child Nutrition labelled “The First 1000 Days in the Life of a Child” to 7000+ villages through Ekal Vidyalaya. The material was developed by the Indian Institute for Public Health under a grant from WIN and made available from our partners at Spoken Tutorials at IIT Bombay.
Our “integrated approach” for rural development is based on recognizing that that clean potable water, good health, education and skills development, energy are inter-related. These activities can be implemented through creation of jobs through entrepreneurship for rural livelihoods. For this, various NGOs, State and local governments, academia, and industry must collaborate to achieve these goals. Our first such program was launched in Gujarat in Aravalli District working in a cluster of seven villages together , with the local Panchayats, IEEE, Ekal, Sevak, Mission Samridhi, IIT Tirupati and others. In the first phase of this project, several students from IIT Tirupati spent approx. 10 days surveying the local area, interviewing villagers and assessing their needs and prioritizing requirements. The recommended list of activities includes refurbishing a computer lab at the Shyamalaji College, supplementing primary education, implementing clean water plants, improving the public health facility among others which will be adopted by the many partners mentioned above. For this we followed a methodology developed by Mr. Ravi Gopalan and Mrs. Jayanthi Ravi of Sarjan Foundation labelled “SEHU: Social Empowerment and Human Upliftment”. You can find more details on this at our recently updated website www.wheelsglobal.org. If you wish to receive an electronic copy of this and get periodic updates, we will be happy to email them to you upon request. In phase 2, we have sent two assistant professors to Bangalore from Shyamalaji College in Aravalli for training at iCreate, a WGF partner, to train them on technology adoption and processes to support new businesses and entrepreneurship. This will be followed by implementation of a clean water project and other activities in their order of priority.
Our Integrated Rural Development work will continue to include traditional activities such as:
Clean Drinking Water: Clean drinking water has been a solution to many health issues and improved quality of life by:
- Eradicating water-borne diseases herby reducing missed days at school and improving children’s quality of education.
- Reducing cases of kidney stones
- Improving the quality of nutrition in food and good health
SEVAK project - SEVAK team envisions to improve healthcare awareness and education for rural and underserved communities using a “Sevak”, a trained villager who provides public health education for lifestyle modification, health screenings and referrals for specialist care when necessary
Spoken Tutorial : The Spoken Tutorial Project is about teaching and learning Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) like Linux, Scilab, LaTeX, PHP & MySQL, Java, C/C++, LibreOffice etc. via an easy Video tool - Spoken Tutorials. Developed at IIT Bombay, provides learning through spoken words & images on low-cost tablets in over 23+ languages. It offers easy translation between English and other local languages
- 4200 videos created in 23 different languages covering over 19 different topics
- 750,000 students trained in the past four years
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without your support and commitment. I thank you for your continued belief in our mission to provide thought leadership and offering technology enabled solutions for clean drinking Water, affordable and accessible Healthcare, better Education for all children, access to renewable Energy and Livelihood and all of this implemented in a sustainable manner in collaboration with leading NGOs. We are proud that the work initiated by the many IIT alumni in USA and India in 2006 and formalized in 2013 under the WHEELS Global Foundation organization is very much aligned with the United Nations Sustainability Goals adopted in 2019. We will start the new year with a push to get industry involved in the work that we do. We are doing this through a series of small group meetings in major commercial centers including Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Delhi. These meetings are being facilitated by industry associations and local IIT alumni groups. All these activities are conducted by officers of WGF at their own personal expense as all donations are directed for specific projects
Thank you once again and wish you and your loved ones the best of health, joy and happiness in this festive season and every success in the coming New Year.
Suresh V Shenoy,
President Wheels Global Foundation