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Agastya (www.agastya.org) is a foundation that
provides science education to kids in rural areas around India. Currently they
manage to reach over 2 million kids every year. They have around 75 mobile vans
containing science, biology, maths experiments so that kids are encouraged to
touch and feel in order to increase interest toward science and technology in
general. They have been working since around 1993 and due to their influence
they are now partly founded by the government. Thanks to their work children in
rural and underprivileged areas  are
discovering new possibilities. In addition Agastya reaches out to the
communities in rural areas teaching them hands on in the areas of ecology and
waste management.

Our team is working with Agastya in order to improve the
management of knowledge in the organization. SAP employees are helping to map
the flow of knowledge though the organization in order to streamline and reduce
costs of knowledge management. The team is composed of 3 SAP employees:
Stanley, Sarah and Riikka. They are from Israel, USA and Finland accordingly.
The fact that they are from different countries and backgrounds is a valuable
asset for the hosting organization and a certain recipe for success.

In order to explain better what Agastya does and the impact
they have on Indian society here two stories of ordinary hope:

  1. Agastya sponsors a program called “Design for change”, this program is designed to
    empower children to make positive changes in their communities.  They are
    asked to identify challenges in and around the school and then solve the
    problems.  The various initiatives are then nominated and one is given an
    award.   Last year, two girls in a small village won the award.
    They noticed that there was a large dry well blocking the path to the
    school.  Many parents would not allow their children to attend the school
    because kids were falling down into the well and hurting themselves.  The
    attendance at the school suffered.  These two girls raised the funds
    necessary to build a cage around the well.  Attendance raised again in the
    school.

  1. As mentioned before Agastya encourages rural children to get involved in
    science. This is an example of how they do that. They hold science fairs
    and hold a competition for students to submit their proposal for new inventions
    or ideas for what to present at the fair.  The best projects are chosen,
    and those are the ones finally selected for the science fair.  Some of the
    ideas created are a motorcycle that will not begin until it senses that the rider
    has put on a helmet.  Also, this helmet has a sensor that ensures that the
    driver is not intoxicated.  One village girl, who had never left her rural
    area, submitted her idea.  She was selected for the science fair and was
    so successful that she won the national science fair competition.  She was
    able to travel to the US(Pittsburg, PA) to present her project.  She also
    won a $2,000 grand prize.

India is a big country and no single project will be able to solve all the problems. Only
the work of thousands of organizations like Agastya and projects like these can
have a real impact on the Indian society. We really hope that thanks to the
help of SAP and the SAP social sabbatical, Agastya will be able to provide more
of these stories.

*A particular thank you to Stanley, Riikka and Sarah for their help to write this
blog.

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