“There was a child at the center who was buried by his own parents in the backyard,” said Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Director of the Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal. He shared this after his recent visit to the premises of Self-help Group for Cerebral Palsy (SGCP) with the youth participants of Microsoft Student Partners (MSP) programme.
While the infant was later rescued by his grandparents, others have faced worse fates. In Nepal, it is common for parents of children with cerebral palsy to abandon their children “when they realise it is a health condition that cannot be treated, but has to be lived with,” Allen added.
While Nepal has been successfully reducing poverty, social and welfare services are wanting, including those for people with cerebral palsy, who number around 80,000.
Twenty-six years since it opened in Kathmandu Valley, SGCP remains the only organisation in the country to be dedicated to the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. People with cerebral palsy are “much neglected, and their plight is almost beyond description”, said SGCP in an appeal letter. It’s a “hidden catastrophe”.
MSP students interacting with the children at the SGCP centre
Stigma worsens the situation. There remain strong beliefs that disabilities are due to sins in past lives, and to fate, preventing Nepali parents from accessing appropriate healthcare for children with disabilities. Rural folk also believe that a child is born with cerebral palsy because the mother was possessed.
“The father would abandon the mother and child, making it even more difficult for the mother to provide for the child,” Allen wrote. “In such cases, these children would be caged up, left with food and water and only visited occasionally.”
Girl with cerebral palsy experiments with a tune
SGCP’s long history of providing rehabilitation, counseling and special education for children and adults with cerebral palsy has also seen new grassroots organisations turning to it for support.
Working with SGCP, MSP students decided to give voice to the inner worlds and realities that the 38 children at the centre occupy, as well as raise funds for its wide remit of work. They will apply their skills in digital media by launching a social media campaign this November. To prepare for this, they visited the centre with Allen in July where they observed healthworkers and teachers at work, attended painting classes with the children and interviewed parents.
Ambika Maharjan, currently a sixth-semester student at St. Xavier’s College of Tribhuvan Unviersity, said, “I really wish I could do more for them, especially for the mothers who, as women here, are less empowered economically. But a friend reminded me that ‘no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’, so I am happy to contribute whatever skills I have, which are currently photography and blogging.”
The visit was also significant for providing Ambika the opportunity to “translate the children’s lives into stories that flesh out their hopes and fears, and talk openly about their needs”.
“... for every disability you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges.” ― Nick Vujicic
Indeed, four Singaporean youths who experience learning, sensory or physical disabilities are living truths to that statement. Not only are they blessed with a keen interest and excellent academic ability in the area of Information Communication Technologies, they were also blessed with the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship 2013. The scholarship funds up to $11,250 of course fees as well as textbook purchases for IT diploma or degree courses offered by local polytechnics or universities per student per academic year. To date, Microsoft has awarded 19 scholarships since 2009. This scholarship is just one out of the many programmes under the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative for Singapore.
Says King Yi, 20, a third-year Business Application student from Republic Polytechnic and one of four recipients this year: “It is an honour to receive the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship and it has given me greater confidence to go for my dreams. My parents, good friends and teachers have inspired me to live life to the fullest and I hope I can inspire others to do the same.” She is also the first recipient who has dyslexia.
The three other recipients are Mr Tan Jian Hao, 19, a first-year Engineering Informatics student from Nanyang Polytechnic who is hearing impaired; Mr Eilson Tang, 17, a first-year student in Financial Business Informatics who was born with bilateral deformity in his right hand and; Mr Ang Chin Hao, 19, a second-year Engineering Informatics student from Nanyang Polytechnic, who was born with macular dystrophy, a rare genetic eye disorder that causes vision loss.
Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director of the Society for the Physically Disabled(SPD), the organisation that manages the Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), said, “SPD adopts a multi-prong approach in helping persons with disabilities become self-reliant and independent. Through the IAC, we hope to equip people with disabilities with the skills and necessary tools to help them assimilate into mainstream workforce. At the same time, we hope to create platforms like these for knowledge and experience sharing to provide support for employers as well.”
The scholarships were presented by Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore during the ‘Towards An Inclusive Workforce 2013’ forum held at the NTUC Business Centre, jointly organised by IAC and SG Enable.
“… every talent is unique and has the potential to contribute to society in one form or another,”
Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore
Ms Jessica Tan, MD, Microsoft Singapore (far right) and Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, Society for the Physically Disabled (centre) with Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship 2013 recipients (from left) Mr Eilson Tang, Ms Foong King Yi and Mr Tan Jian Hao
Established in 1996, Japan NPO Center (JNPOC) seeks to strengthen the social infrastructure of non-profit organisations across Japan. It also aims to build strategic partnerships between the non-profit sector, businesses and the government.Some of the main activities at JNPOC include maintaining the organisational databases of non-profits to promote information sharing; managing software donations in Japan as part of the TechSoup Global Network initiative; and partnering with Microsoft Japan to strengthen information and communication technology (ICT) support for non-profits.Over time, as the membership numbers grew, JNPOC required a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to streamline the management of member data. A key challenge was the lack of integration between the existing membership databases used by the different JNPOC-supported programmes.The organisation decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics® CRM in 2010 and went through several rounds of system upgrades in order to create a centralised database system to improve its staff’s ability to collect and manage member information. In addition, a centralised database will enable the JNPOC staff to work together and collaborate more efficiently across departments, through the use of a more consistent set of data management tools and processes. For the senior management, the implementation was focused around achieving more ‘proactive member management’ across the organisation — with the aim of expanding its current membership while deepening relationships with existing members.Yoshifumi Tajiri, Secretary General of JNPOC, said, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables us to broaden the level of engagement with prospective members — as the software helps us to easily identify organisations that have already been in touch with the JNPOC, but are not yet our members. We are also able to derive deeper insights out of the centralised member database and take a more proactive case management approach, tailoring our services according to the specific needs of existing members.”Read the full case study on Microsoft Asia Futures online.
The much awaited Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits has been launched! It is a service Microsoft provides as a donation to qualifying nonprofits through its software donation program. Office 365 provides a myriad of Web App tools on the cloud which can be accessed from anywhere. These tools range from the familiar, everyday Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint to equally useful Professional email, Shared calendaring, Instant messaging (IM), HD video conferencing, Screen sharing, Online storage, OneNote, SharePoint vendor and Lync.
In addition, nonprofits can easily set up a public website without additional hosting fees, as well as an Intranet site to support internal collaboration. Discounts are also given for an upgrade to use familiar desktop Microsoft Office apps on up to 5 devices per user.
Office 365 is the first online toolbox offered to eligible nonprofits from a wide range of 41 countries including Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. From a nonprofit that comprises of two people, to one that has more than 500, Office 365 has different tool packages that are specially catered to meet their needs.
To see specific scenarios on how Office 365 has been utilised and to find out more, visit the Citizenship Office 365 for Nonprofit site now.
Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark program in partnership with TakingITGlobal, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities. This global community of young social innovators benefits uniquely from Microsoft’s expertise as a leading technology company since 1975 and TakingITGlobal’s experience facilitating online communities for youth worldwide since 1999.
Over the past year, youth from Asia-Pacific have showed incredible participation in the Microsoft Innovate for Good online community, creating impressive new initiatives with the help of Microsoft and TakingITGlobal. After attending Innovate for Good events in their region, most youth get involved in the online community where they can access resources to help them turn their ideas into a reality, finding innovative ways to leverage technology to improve their communities. When ranked by contributions to the online community the APAC region is well-represented, with Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia among the top-ten countries on the site.
The Seed Funding for Innovation Challenge is one of the key contests run within the Innovate for Good online community, and nearly three months ago 20 applications were accepted. Once accepted into the Challenge, all 20 ideas were admitted to TakingITGlobal’s Sprout e-Course, all are offered grants to support their project if they complete the course, and all ideas were opened to a vote by the community. Last week, five finalists emerged with the most votes, and all but one of these five finalists is from APAC! These finalists will receive a prize pack from Microsoft to recognize their efforts in promoting their idea and working to make it real.
TakingITGlobal’s Sprout e-Course runs for 9-weeks, and aims to equip a diverse generation of courageous youth with essential skills to craft effective social innovation projects and change their corner of the world for the better. This is a supported online learning opportunity designed to provide young people with access to training in project management, communications, and leveraging technology as they imagine, plan and develop social change initiatives. Participants are guided through learning modules, lessons and quizzes, and independent work to develop assets as part of a Project Portfolio. While all twenty participants are admitted to the course, the five finalists have the distinction of winning the vote within the online community, which shows their ability to promote their idea effectively within the community and gain interest and support from their peers.
Here are the five finalists!
Microsoft YouthSpark brings together a variety of Microsoft programs which aim to empower youth with access to technology and a better education, inspire young people to imagine new opportunities and help young people to find a job or start their own businesses. By connecting youth with greater opportunities, Microsoft YouthSpark hopes to empower young people to change their world and realize their full potential.
Visit the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub at http://www.microsoft.com/youthspark and explore all the Microsoft programs and resources we have to help young people.
Blog post contributed by Ryan MacLean [twitter: @thisnote], Project Manager, TakingITGlobal.
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