Share the Love

My brothers Zion Abraham, Zayne Abraham and I had the pleasure of volunteering at a remote aided public school in the western Ghat mountains of Southern India during Christmas vacation 2017. Surya Nelli is 5000 ft above sea level with close to zero degree temperatures. Suryanelli’s altitude makes its tea estates one of the highest in the world. Suryanelli also produces one of the best tea in the world. You can smell the tea as you make your way up the mountains.

SuryaNelli is 40Km from Munnar a resort in the western ghat mountains. Roads to these cities are horrible and temperatures too cold. We developed severe allergies and nose bleeding because of the tough climate in the mountains.

On my trips to visit my Uncles I had passed the school in the middle of the estate and seen the run-down buildings.I reached out to Harrisons Malayalam Ltd, a local tea plantation company who owned the estates if I could work as their software engineering intern and share my computer knowledge with the local kids for grades 3,4. Tea plantation employees hardly make $100/month. The try their best to send their kids to the aided public school. No one had ever offered to improve local schools or train the kids for a future outside the estates. Harrisons Malayalam Ltd was thrilled with the offer to offer free computer classes to the area and the school in the middle of the estates. This effort was supported by HTML tea estates and the local panchayat(village council) as this was the first such program for the schools in the mountains.

Kids from the public school and neighboring areas came for the classes. We faced some tough problems like the local language was Tamil. We only could converse in English. We used google translate to pick up more words. Internet Connections are poor and school buildings pretty rundown. What was sad was the rundown buildings and bathrooms for the school.

I created a programming curriculum with some translations in Tamil so the kids and teachers could follow the curriculum with us and also after we left. The program included instructions on how to work with the computer, how to log in, connect to the internet, browse research topics, create websites, social media sites and create 8 computer games with the scratch. Principal, Kids, and teachers were thrilled as this was the first program for the school and local area.

Kids showered us with love and gratitude. They called our names and blew kisses as we left each day. Zion was an instant favorite.i was excited at the opportunity to inspire more than 45 kids to go for a career outside the estate in computer science. I was excited at the opportunity to show little girls they could work and be engineers just like their favorites on tv and not marry young of pursuing a career like their parents. They could dream big and realize it as the internet and the world was at their fingertips. They would just need to practice the skills learned and seek more training.

HTML and the school gave us a token of their appreciation with a memento houseboat, a symbol of the area and experience. They showered their love with letters of gratitude. It was one of the best experiences we had sharing our love and experience with the kids. We captured our memories in this video and pics. Kids and teachers bonded with us. The school continues to reach out to us on Whatsapp and conference calls.

I’m also the Director of programming for shooting Stars foundation, a group of high schoolers who raise money for scholarships for kids in third world countries. I had experience developing programming curriculum and holding game development camps as the location director for Shooting stars spring camps. That experience had prepared my brothers and me for this opportunity.

I would encourage everyone to reach out and help areas around the world in need of support and help more schools and kids have an opportunity for a better life.

Zachary Abraham

Grade 11

Aragon High