Welcome to the #NokiaC3forChange initiative with The Better India. As part of this campaign, we handpicked 20 changemakers across India.
18-year-old Resham Bhagel from Madhya Pradesh dreams of becoming a lawyer. Having spent most of her life in a small village called Kekadiya in Bhanpur district, the yearning to know more about the world outside is something that drives this youngster.
All this while, the books and audio-visual classes at the community centre in her village were her only window to the world. However, with schools shutting down due to COVID-19 this year, her connection to knowledge and opportunities was severed.
"There are 52 of us here, and while the teachers would help us sometimes by giving us their phones, it wasn’t enough. On top of that, all of us are of different ages and the lessons could not be personalized based on our needs. None of our family members has smartphones, so attending online classes at home was also not a possibility," says Resham.
As the world changes and becomes increasingly digital, there is no reason why Resham and her peers cannot e-learn, and why the village adults cannot use technology to access better healthcare and other facilities.
Here’s what happened next.
Amitabh Soni, who runs an NGO called Abhedya in the village, was one of the 20 chosen changemakers of the #NokiaC3forChange initiative. Amitabh centralised a tech hub in the village’s community centre, by making 6 smartphones available to the villagers as part of this initiative. Under the guidance of moderators at the community centre, children and adults in the village are now learning how to use a smartphone for their everyday needs.
Today, one finds children, between the ages of 10 and 18, at the community centre, using the smartphones or borrowing them for studies.
Not just in e-learning, the phones are now being used to transform the lives of people in the community as well. With an aim to improve income from farming, provide better livelihood opportunities and reduce migration to urban areas, Amitabh and his team are starting a Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO), which will enable the villagers to start and run their own agri-business.
Talking about the impact, Amitabh says, "A community reserve of smartphones has the potential to be a gamechanger in a village like this, and these phones have already begun to garner impact. Access to smartphones has immensely helped our children with e-learning, and is helping the adults as their day-to-day needs are now being met by having tech in their hands and someone who can guide them through it all."
“Registration of farmers to create the local FPO is underway and in the first batch we have reached out to 5 to 6 villages with over 30 farmers involved in the fold. Once this is complete, we hope to reach out to over 300 farmers across 15 villages of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” says one of the volunteers, Prem, while stressing the fact that this might not have been possible if not for the smartphones. “The centre for document submission and registration is about 30 kilometres away from these villages and it was always a huge hassle to kickstart the operations. But, the phones and the provision to do it all online has made things easier for us and helped us reach out to more people,” he adds.
Do you know of changemakers like this who are using technology to create an impact? Nominate them here. You can nominate your own inspiring change story too. The top shortlisted entries will get a Nokia phone!