The Gupta Family Foundation is pleased to announce its first project for 2021! In honour of Shri Brahmrishi Gurudev ji’s birthday, The Foundation will be partnering with the Simbi Foundation to build solar-powered schools in Africa. This initiative will be launching in the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda – working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to build and enhance four different schools across this settlement.The Simbi Foundation builds many innovative solutions to enhance educational systems and allow developing countries to access modern technology. One of these solutions is the BrightBox – a remote, free-standing, solar-powered classroom that has been repurposed from a shipping container. These BrightBox classrooms have the capability of providing electricity and internet to an entire rural region, and also house several laptops for students to use in their studies. They also become a source of revenue generation for the region, as individuals can pay a nominal fee to charge their cell phone from the solar grid. The Simbi Foundation has also created the Simbi Learning Cloud – a cloud-based educational system that allows content to be uploaded via intranet.
The curriculum will also include teachings from Guru ji, which are all spiritual and educate students on the importance of leading a happier life. Reetu Gupta, President & CEO of The Gupta Family Foundation, says, “One of the most impactful teachings I learned from Guru ji is to live life with happiness, not for happiness. I want to spread this peace and this clarity to these children, hoping it will make them stronger and in turn provide them with better opportunities in life.”
“One of the most significant issues that school systems in developing countries face is a lack of access to technology,” says Suraj Gupta, Chief Strategy Officer of The Gupta Family Foundation. “Most schools have to rely on textbooks, which are expensive, difficult to source, and get out of date very quickly. Further, it is difficult to maintain a high ratio of textbooks to students in these communities. These BrightBox classrooms provide entire school complexes with laptops for student use, as well as a cloud-based educational system that can be updated very quickly, without any additional cost. Furthermore, these classrooms provide electricity to the community, and help these individuals access modern technology that they would otherwise have difficulty accessing.”
The Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is the second largest settlement of its kind in the world, with over 280,000 residents who have largely fled from South Sudan due to the ongoing conflict in the country. The Gupta Family Foundation and the Simbi Foundation have been working with the United Nations to optimize how many students in the settlement will have access to education and technology. “This technology has the ability to make a substantial impact in Uganda,” says Reetu. “Over 24,000 students will be positively impacted by this initiative, and the revenue that this project will generate for the community can fund future BrightBoxes every few years. It is a wonderful way to help these communities in a sustainable, climate-friendly fashion, to ensure that thousands of youth can access the education they deserve.”
Steve Gupta founded the family foundation three decades ago, undertaking many projects around the world and helping thousands of people through medical aid, disaster relief, clean water projects, and more. Reetu had a vision to bring more love and more life into the foundation, and she re-imagined and re-launched the Gupta Family Foundation in 2020. She has brought a new mandate to the foundation, and introduced its new mission - equality and empowerment through education and the satisfaction of basic needs.
This partnership with the Simbi Foundation will be the first of many projects coming from the Gupta Family Foundation this year, and these schools in the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement will be built and completed in the first half of 2021.