“Coding was a new field for me as I was an Arts student. I didn’t even know what coding was. In fact, no one even in my village knows what coding is. I am very happy because I now know what coding is,” says Lily Sneha Lakra.
Lily is 23 years old and from Chandapara village, Khunti District in the state of Jharkhand. She graduated in English Literature from Yogoda Satsanga Mahavidyalaya in Ranchi.
While studying, Lily volunteered with an organisation named Pratigya that provides food and education to children from low income families. Through her acquaintance with the founder, Lily easily connected with the people in the organisation. She attended life skills classes at Pratigya where she learnt about career planning, financial savings and public speaking. Lily’s volunteership at Pratigya lasted 3 years following which she became a Child Health Educator with them. Her role involved conducting monthly sessions on health with children.
Lily thoroughly enjoyed teaching and did so for two years. She also taught English to the students of class 1 till 4. When Covid19 struck, Lily had to stay home while attending college lessons online. In 2021, Lily and some other students like her began tutoring children for free so that they could access education during the lockdown.
Impressed by this initiative, the founder of Pratigya, Mr. Ajay Kumar connected Lily with an organisation called Sajhe Sapne, located in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. Sajhe Sapne is focussed on launching careers of rural women in the modern workforce. Of particular interest to Lily was a course they offered on learning computer programming languages. Since the pandemic was still raging at the time, Sajhe Sapne was providing this course online. With assistance from her teacher, Lily got enrolled at Sajhe Sapne. Sajhe Sapne offered two Course options - Rural Development Management Course and Maths Educator Course. Since Lily was already working in the social impact sector, she chose the Rural Development Management course.
During her online course, Lily made new friends at Sajhe Sapne. She learnt interesting facts about society and the social sector. Post her completion of the online course, Sajhe Sapne offered her a place in their residential professional growth program. That meant travelling to Himachal Pradesh for a period of 9 months, following an assessment. This time, Lily chose coding, despite not knowing what it meant! All she knew was she would be working on laptops and desktops. She was curious to learn something new.
(Lily (left) and her friend Megha during coding sessions)
Lily was among the chosen few who got admission to this program. Her thoughts were, “Selection is done but how can I tell my family members that I want to go to Himachal Pradesh to study?” Despite the challenges that she would be faced with in relocating so far away to a new place, her family members supported her and green-signaled her travel to Himachal Pradesh.
Though Lily had convinced her family, she feared traveling alone. She connected with another girl from her online batch who had also been selected for the same course and was traveling to Himachal Pradesh. Since they both were from the same state, she figured it would be easier to travel together.
“We both were very scared because it was the first time we were traveling alone. On the other hand, we were very excited to see mountains and snow.” On reaching Kandbari, Palampur, they were welcomed with extremely cold weather even for the month of March. Exhausted from the travel, they slept through their first night away from home.
First day of learning started with a strenuous climb on the road to the Sajhe Sapne Campus. After what seemed like ages, Lily reached her destination. She was one of the first ones to have arrived. Slowly, the other students started trickling in. They were from diverse places and backgrounds. The cohort consisted of about 20 girls who had all been placed in the hostel. They had to cook food themselves, basically do everything on their own for probably the first time in their lives. Challenging but exciting times lay ahead!
[Lily(3rd from left) with other students]
Lily’s happiest moment is that she received a Tech4Good Fellowship with Tech4Good T4G Labs. She is very excited about the opportunity because it gives her a chance to learn new technologies and frameworks. She will have the opportunity to work on real-world projects with NGOs and social impact organisations. Lily is looking forward to making a difference in her community through technology.
Lily will be based out of Kerala, another new destination for her. Kerala is quite far from Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand but Lily is ready to take a step forward towards her dreams and goals. She is very curious to learn different cultures and languages. “I would suggest to everyone that they do a coding course even if it’s very difficult to get started on it because once you learn coding then you definitely start to enjoy it!”
“Now I am doing a Frontend Developer course but I want to learn Backend Development also.” Lily is happy with her family’s ongoing support of her endeavours.
Written by: Varsha (Sapnewali from Sajhe Sapne)
Edited by: Deepali Kulkarni
Message from Tech4Good T4G Labs: We are so excited to have Lily join us. She is an inspiration to all of us. Join us in wishing her the best with your comments, replies to this post. yay!