In challenging times, the measure of an organisation’s versatility lies in how successfully it expands niche services to address larger needs. Jobs and education are casualties of Covid times. But there are some outfits, which work to ease the pressure.
Pratidhwani, a welfare group of IT employees whose purpose is to help stressed-out nerds in Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has been a godsend. It has launched a job portal to help out-of-work techies.
Set up in 2012, Pratidhwani’s mandate was to resolve issues faced by the techie community in Kerala. A similar branch at the Kochi Infopark came up last year. Earlier this year, Pratidhwani pushed for and helped set up a library at Technopark.
It raised the bar by organising an agricultural club where employees could occasionally sell the vegetables and fruits they grow in their gardens. In the last three months, the organisation realised that while it’s important to give techies a leg up, it’s equally important to address the growing gap in online education.
Though governments and academic institutions are pushing for a move from traditional classrooms to online education, the lack of requisite equipment is a dampener. Both students and teachers, especially in rural and suburban areas, cannot avail facilities available in cities. To address this predicament, Pratidhwani started its initiative 'First Bell'— a special collection drive for used laptops, television, smartphones and other devices, which would then be distributed to students in need to bridge the online divide. But the collection does not meet the demand.
“Though several people have donated electronic equipment, we need more. We have launched a fund-mobilising drive to buy TVs, smartphones and tablets for students,” says AR Raneesh, President of Pratidhwani. It has also set up a help desk to handle and address distress calls. Since its launch, the help desk has dealt with nearly 300 calls seeking medicines, groceries, and medical aid. Aneesh and Sulu, a hearing-impaired couple employed at Technopark, experienced first-hand the organisation’s prompt response.
They were stranded without essentials during the lockdown. They reached out to Pratidhwani and in no time a volunteer stepped in to help. Likewise, Vinu Natarajan had a harrowing time accessing medicines for his ailing mother-in-law who had to postpone an elective surgery. The Good Samaritan outfit lived up to its name at the right time.
Helping people out with much-needed drugs and essentials are not the only important needs Pratidhwani has met. Since many companies asked their employees to work remotely from home, connectivity issues and damage to tech devices were common complaints.
The organisation’s helpline was flooded with calls regarding new cables, mouse, keyboards and headsets. Its services will be available until normalcy returns. Pratidhwani in Malayalam means echo or resonance. Their response to distress echoes their commitment perfectly.
(Pratidhwani in Malayalam means echo or resonance. Their response to distress echoes their commitment perfectly)