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
Philanthropic endeavors by nature are a calling, a work of passion and a commitment to serve the communities which have nurtured us and offered an opportunity to raise our families and lead productive lives. The WHEELS ‘family’ of volunteers, donors, recipients, well-wishers and supporters are an inspiration for continuing to live by our tag line for scaling philanthropy by applying technology solutions to the most pressing problems for clean, potable water, affordable healthcare, education, energy, rural livelihoods and sustainability.
Our periodic gatherings are akin to ‘stakeholders meeting’ where we get an opportunity to not only showcase the work we have achieved together, such as the progress made by the Wheels India Niswarth (WIN) Foundation launched in 2017 or the many projects completed together with our partner organizations like Sevak, Spoke Tutorials and Pukar, but also explore the road ahead. It is an opportunity for the many volunteers and leaders to get your feedback and inputs and learn from each other. That is why we hosted a “conference” on Leveraging technology to find solutions for Rare Diseases, on Policy and Governance and Women’s Forum addressing the many challenges they face for education, livelihoods, prenatal care etc. We hope such dialog and exchanges will translate to larger impact for every ‘philanthropic dollar’ and activity. We are also proud to publish an open framework for “Smart Village” authored by Ambassador Pradeep Kapur and Dr. Kavita Kapur in association with WIN foundation, IEEE and WHEELS Charitable Foundation (India) with inputs from several other NGOs.
I wish to thank everyone for their time and participation and also to those who are unable to join us but offered their support throughout the year to make our mission to find ‘Technology Enabled Solutions’ achievable. I wish to thank the active collaboration by the many Indian Institutes of Technology in the projects undertaken by us. Finally, thanks to our donors, sponsors and for the countless hours put in by our board members, volunteers and event Chairs to make this endeavor event possible. I am looking forward to our continued association and engagement in the coming year.
President, WHEELS Global Foundation
WHEELS for Change | April, 2018
Welcome to my blog, WHEELS for Change. As the President of the WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF), I look forward to sharing my insights into our goals, our progress, the role of technology in providing solutions to ongoing issues in rural communities globally.
WGF was founded by U.S.-based alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in 2013. IIT is a tech-focused university system, and our alumni community is very active in the technology and engineering professions. We were inspired by the late Dr. Abdul Kalam, then president of India, when he spoke to the 2006 Pan-IIT conference. He encouraged the IIT alumni community to use what we learned in college to give back and drive change. To best match our expertise with our philanthropy goals, WGF decided our motto would be “Technology Enabled Philanthropy.” What we ask ourselves as a Foundation is, how can we use technology to improve the lives of people living in rural areas?
My goal as the incoming President for WGF is to make this an institution that will live beyond our lifetime and continue to inspire innovation and application of technology to solve real world challenges. We will of course continue working collaboratively with the Indian Institutes of Technology and other similar institutions in the U.S.
To highlight International Women’s Day, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme led talks discussing how empowering women and greater equality are tied to long-term economic stability. One important technology they noted was how mobile phone access helps bridge the gap many women in rural areas face.
We want to be part of the technology future that is spreading across the globe, led in part by some of the organizations mentioned above. As part of that effort, WGF and WHEELS Charitable Foundation India worked in partnership with Spoken Tutorial Project, IIT Bombay and Sunrise Computer Software Pvt. Ltd to launch a new app designed to help new mothers. Child deaths and cognitive losses resulting from improper techniques of breastfeeding and lack of proper nutrition to the mother and child in India are estimated to cost $14 billion dollars annually, states the Times of India. By empowering women with knowledge about correct breastfeeding techniques the app aims to reduce infant mortality.
We believe projects like this best meet our motto: Technology Enabled Philanthropy. As I humbly take over as President, I look forward to what 2018 will bring and how we can assist the most vulnerable among us.
I hope you join us on this journey. With your support and donations, we can aid rural communities across the world. Please keep reading WHEELS for Change and share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
Suresh ShenoyRead more