(photos emailed to Valencia, Rakesh, Sharmila)
Panaji: Most schools have begun online teaching for its students amidst the pandemic. But a number of students in the state are unable to access the classes because of not being able to afford smartphones or laptops. A Panaji-based non-profit organization has now come forward to make online classes available to the students.
The organization, which calls itself STARS (Spending Time And Reaping Smiles), has begun a drive to collect old smartphones, laptops or computers from donors. The non-working gadgets will be repaired and then provided to the needy students so they can continue learning during the pandemic.
“We were in the process of distributing notebooks and stationery to students in need with the help of donors. During this time, we realized that, as many classes are now online, some do not have the required smartphones or laptops for the online classes. It is quite an investment for parents to make because these gadgets are costly and some families have more than one child, who need to attend classes. So we felt if we can provide a gadget to even one family member, they could share,” said Lushan Fernandes of STARS, an organization set up in 2013.
This led to the idea to get citizens to donate their old smartphones, tablets or laptops for such students’ use.
“A new gadget would cost quite a lot, but there are many people who have them in surplus, even those which are not working. So we decided to have a drive to get people to donate these,” said Fernandes.
STARS has already contacted different schools to provide it with a list of students who are in need of smartphones or laptops and the organisation will then act as the bridge between the gadgets and the children.
“We have tied up with Devine Computers, who have been kind enough to agree to repair any devices free of cost for this good cause. Depending on the number of devices that we receive and that are good to use after repair, we plan to reach out to as many students in need as possible,” said Fernandes. STARS in a local NGO, which works with different underprivileged sections, mainly women and children. The organization is a volunteer drivern effort.
Fernandes, appealing to citizens’ generosity, said that the organization will make sure that every donated smartphone, tablet, laptop or computers, which is either in working condition or can be repaired, reaches a child in need of it.
“We hope this collection drive is successful as it can really benefit a lot of children,” said Fernandes.

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