Thursday, July 22, 2010

Angels Orphanage

In addition to training to project simulation, some ThoughtWorks University-ers have been volunteering our time on a side project for an orphanage named Angels Orphanage. We're building a website for the orphanage using a programming language called Ruby on Rails, which apparently is much less painful than Java and the Spring platform which we've been using for our project simulation. I wish I could explain more, but as a BA that's about all I can say about the technical side of things without making stuff up.

We'd been working on the site for a few weeks before we got the chance this past Monday evening to actually pay a visit to the orphanage and meet the folks for whom we were building the website. Although I spent most of my time interviewing and gathering information for the website from Angels Orphanages' primary caretaker, a lovely woman named Sabina, I was lucky enough to spend some time in the company of the children as well.

When we first walked in, about 60 or so children, most of whom were very young, were sitting in neat rows on the ground. They were quiet and peering at us with big curious eyes, but you could tell they were an excited bunch to begin with...what kind of children aren't? My suspicions were confirmed as soon as we started introducing ourselves and playing with the orphans. They were an incredibly joyous group of kids. Everything we did, from teaching them fist bumps to dancing and singing to taking pictures was met by excited giggles and eager hands. The girls especially loved taking pictures on my camera - not of themselves, but rather of each other and of me, which was both amusing and puzzling.

I loved my trip to Angels Orphanage. Seeing the children's faces really made me more motivated than ever to build a great website for them, one that will bring as much value to them as possible. And on a personal level, hanging out with in such a happy, unconditionally loving environment - even if it was just for a few hours - really instilled a sense of gratitude in me for all the things I have been blessed with. 

I learned that it costs 500 rupees to support a child for a month. That covers his or her tuition, food, clothing, medical needs, everything. 500 rupees translates to roughly $11 USD. It's how much I will probably pay for my dinner tonight, which really puts things into perspective.

Although Angels Orphanage cannot accept donations in anything other than rupees at the moment, it is possible to send money through ThoughtWorks. If you are interested, please let me know and I'll set up contact information. I'll also post a link to the website as soon as we deploy.

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