“Thiruvizha” was the word which was ringing in my head while witnessing today’s run-up event, that of releasing the Kannada version of GNU/Linux operating system which we called “Namma Debian “. Thiruvizha is a Tamil word which stands for joyous celebration!
This was exactly how the atmosphere had metamorphosed in the Ambedkar Community Computing Centre or AC3, as we call it. AC3 is based in a small community of slum dwellers, adjoining establishments of the biggest IT players in the world. Here, computer and related skills are imparted to the local kids by enthusiasts from FSMK.
Today’s event was a colorful one organized by the local members along with FSMK. MC was a local kid, who compered the entire event excellently.
G Ramakrishna, Editor of Hosatu was the Chief Guest. He spoke passionately about the untapped potential abundantly present within the children in places like the AC3. Lack of opportunities, cribbing at fate and being complacent with their living conditions, according to him were the evils haunting them, and that anyone who wanted to change his life to betterment could do it. He invoked the lives of Elridge Cleaver and Ho Chi Minh , who defied the circumstances and became leaders. His talk was an inspirational one, mixed with passion and anguish about the disparity in society. He released the “Namma Debian” operating system, by handing over the same to the eldest woman in their community.
There was also a brief demonstration of Namma Debian, running through games, image manipulation tools etc…
This was followed by a sensational speech by a 10 year old kid, who beautifully interleaved quotes from The Quran and The Gita while emphasizing the importance of education in life. He also reminisced Dr.B.R. Ambedkar, who is considered to be the Savior of the downtrodden people in India, for the benefits he ensured them in the Constitution of India.
The colour to the event was the exuberant music and dance by the locals. A music troupe of one Mr. Arul, inhabitant at the AC3 region performed peppy songs, which got all of us groove to the rhythm of the beats.
The issue of accessibility software was echoed by a beautiful young lady Ms.Vidya with partial visual impairment and an associate of hers, to the audience in a manner which struck chords with them. She demonstrated the proprietary tool which she uses for screen reading, and FSMK raised the voice for refined development of such in Free Software domain.
With all the local people enthusiastically participating in an event conceptually still distant to them, but with a hope that at least it would benefit their kids, a purpose is strengthened further:
To continue trying to do the little we can in not letting their hopes down.
Song and music at AC3