A supporter of AIF in Chicago, Nick Behl shares his reflections on visiting the Digital Equalizer program in Delhi this winter.
The Behl family (Nick and Divya, as newer Chicago AIF members, along with daughter Maya, 14, and son Neil, 11, as Junior AIF members) had the desire to better understand how the AIF program is run at the grass roots/in country level. In December 2016, we were graciously given the opportunity to meet some of the AIF team in India as well as see the Digital Equalizer Program in action at The NSKV Begumpur School in Delhi.
While visiting the NSKV Begumpur School, Divya and I were struck by the passion, professionalism, dedication, and thoughtful approach displayed by the AIF team. Specifically we had discussions with Niresh Kumar, Anuj Srivastava, Ritu Maurya, and Hammad Siddiqu. We discussed various topics related to Digital Equalizer as well as AIF’s future evolution in India. Furthermore, we talked with the Principal, several teachers, and students at NSKV Begumpur School. We were impressed with the whole-hearted buy-in from the school. The AIF team seemed like an extension of the school that was seamlessly integrated with the teaching staff and Principal.
An area that resonated with us was that the Digital Equalizer program was executed exceptionally well by AIF directly, which was interesting to us given AIF’s primary model of partnering and building capacity of leading NGOs. As we discussed the program with the AIF team, it became clear that the success of this program was quite broad including corporate sponsorships/funding, positive press, pride of ownership from AIF team, and excellent and documentable results, such as this assessment carried out recently in Gujarat.
For our children Maya and Neil, the inviting nature of the school children and the ability to help the kids was inspiring. This visit helped our children internalize a perspective of how well-organized philanthropic work can make a meaningful difference to a large number of children’s lives.
We visited several elementary level classes, and the students and teachers showed us how the technology-related curriculum provided by Digital Equalizer created an engaging, productive, and educational environment. In discussions with the Principal of NSKV Begumpur School, she emphasized that the program was a critical part of the students’ education, especially for girls. Without the program, many of the students would not have access or knowledge of the internet, which is an indispensable resource to open up the world to the children. Divya and Maya were particularly touched by the program’s ability to empower girls with confidence and knowledge. We were told of several inspirational stories of girls at the school being the first in their family to attend college.
With over 4000 schools and one and a half million plus students touched byDigital Equalizer at a cost of approximately sixteen dollars per student over a period of three years, the program resonates as a top-notch endeavor that we can be proud of helping support and fundraise for.
Based on our discussions with the team and the excellent data points of the program, it seems evident that AIF is poised to grow rapidly in the next several years and more importantly continue to expand its influence on excellent, high impact projects and initiatives. We thank AIF for the excellent work and will continue to support in our small way.
Nick, Divya, Maya, and Neil Behl
P.S. – I don’t want to exclude our four year old, Nina Behl, who will get involved in Junior AIF in a couple years. This is truly a family endeavor for us.