WORTH Trust Solves Tech Woes to Help More Kids in India

Arjun was born partially blind. With doctors giving no hope that his eyesight would get any better, his parents were constantly worried about his education and ability to support himself. However, like many others with low income, they were unable to afford treatment for their son.

India is home to 70 million people with different needs and abilities. While challenges exist for everybody, these challenges assume more serious proportions for people who have low incomes. Like Arjun, they are deprived of treatment and the chance to build a life of dignity for themselves.

Creating Opportunities for Training and Employment

It is this section of society that WORTH Trustaims to help. WORTH, which stands for Workshop for Rehabilitation and Training of the Handicapped, aims to create opportunities for vocational training and avenues for employment for people with different needs in India.

WORTH Trust uses a two-pronged model that addresses challenges faced by people with different abilities at various levels. Production units run by the trust manufacture high-quality industrial components, affordable mobility aids, and assistive devices. These units, located across four southern cities of Katpadi, Pondicherry, Tiruchirapalli, and Chennai, employ people with different needs and provide them with honorable livelihood opportunities.

Not only does WORTH work towards creating a barrier-free world for the physically challenged, it does this work with the help of people who have different abilities, creating a circle of empowerment.

The surplus generated from the production units is plowed back into the system and supports the second arm — the rehabilitation centers. Technical training centers provide free vocational training to boys and girls with orthopedic and hearing challenges. Other programs include a school for the speech- and hearing-impaired and a day-care center for children with intellectual challenges.

With this unique cross-subsidy model, WORTH aims to mainstream children like Arjun by providing them with training and employment. Beginning as support for the Swedish Red Cross' work to rehabilitate people with leprosy in 1963, WORTH has come a long way. Today it embraces the social responsibility of helping people with different needs and demonstrating that every person has a useful role to play in society and the right to live a full life.

Technology Helps WORTH Increase Efficiency and Save Time

The road to achieving this impact was not free from obstacles. Getting enough work in the initial days was a challenge. As WORTH expanded, it encountered different trials. With a growing number of centers, managing daily processes such as accounts posed a big challenge. Each unit maintained separate physical records, which had to be manually collated. Simple tasks such as communication between centers would take up a large amount of time and bring down efficiency. Management was spending far too much time on manual processes.

To automate systems, a part of the funds was invested in buying computers. However, faced with high prices, the organization was not able to invest in genuine software, and low security caused its systems to crash. WORTH was desperate for a solution to this crisis.

Around this time, through a friendly IT consultant, WORTH Trust heard about NASSCOM Foundation's software donation initiative, BiGTech. WORTH Trust registered on the platform.

Within a few days, WORTH was able to acquire genuine licenses for its computers and email servers. An efficient mechanism of data entry and collection was worked out, and all employees received email accounts through the organization to maintain safe and fast communication. This not only created efficient systems but also saved time that could be much better utilized.

Being a self-sustaining organization, WORTH believes in putting every penny back into the cause it supports. The software donations freed up funds that would have been used for IT expenses. These funds were used in the education and training of children, creating empowered citizens for the future.

Success Through Collaboration: NASSCOM Foundation Partners with TechSoup

NASSCOM Foundation's BiGTech donations program, run in partnership with TechSoup Global, aims to support the work of NGOs such as WORTH. Through software donations, NASSCOM aims to bring in efficiency and other benefits that technology can provide to the Indian NGO sector.

WORTH Trust received donations of Windows Remote Desktop Services, Windows 8, and Windows Server Datacenter Edition and has steadily integrated technology into its work. To streamline processes further, the management is now planning to install biometric attendance systems for the staff members who work at their production units.

This story originally appeared on the TechSoup Blog. It was a winner in TechSoup's global case studies contest highlighting the very best impact stories from TechSoup's network of 63 partners serving 121 countries.