left to right: Magimai (Basis graduate), Tejaswini (Bluebells School),
James Ambat (Family Development Services), Thomas Saverimuthu (Basis)
We are celebrating! First, an anniversary. One year ago this month, together with our partner Family Development Services (FDS), we inaugurated our first "Bloom" Basis Learning Centre, hosted by FDS' Building Blocks Freesia School in Benson Town, Bangalore. Second, a new Bloom. We are so happy to share that THIS month we inaugurated a second Bloom, hosted at the Building Blocks Bluebells School at the edge of a slum near Electronic City and many of Bangalore's large tech parks. Magimai, a graduate of last year's digital literacy program, is on deck at Bluebells to assist our new learners with the online curriculum. FDS' social workers also have their office at this location; we are so happy to know that they are on hand to support our learners from a psychosocial perspective (they also visit Freesia Bloom regularly). This new Bloom is jointly funded by Basis and FDS. Your support continues to play a direct role in changing lives! What difference does it make? We have some data from Bloom's 2022 graduates to share...
Success in terms of our learners securing gainful employment is not our ONLY goal, so even while we work to improve our outcomes in this regard, we know that we are achieving some other extremely important outcomes. Our digital literacy program stresses online safety and discernment. We also strive to prevent trafficking of any kind. Our graduates could be recruited both within and without the country for jobs that are shams. See this article from The Guardian, for example, that describes how people are trafficked into call centres. Not only can we help our learners discern what is a bonafide and safe job offer, the connection of our learners with each other, the Bloom trainers, the FDS social workers, and us means that they are able to access the wisdom and love of people who care about them. "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14 What about A.I.? Bear with us as we think carefully about how to engage with A.I., both as an organization, and what to recommend to our learners. Aimee Ansari, Chief Executive at CLEAR and Global Executive Director, Translators without Borders, recently shared her thoughts on LinkedIn; here is an excerpt:
Digital Literacy is a big deal. In addition, digital literacy - the ability to find, evaluate, and communicate information by utilizing typing or digital media platforms (from wikipedia) - is not as widespread amongst the marginalized. ChatGPT has made people who have not had much access to or ability to engage with digital tools more vulnerable because it is so easy to believe that you’re having a conversation, that it’s a friend, that it listens and gives advice. It does not - and it should come with a warning.
So even as we think about if and how we will use A.I. tools, our first priority is to help our learners understand that these are tools, not people. Not parents, not friends, not a relative who can give good advice. What's next? Freesia Bloom will be graduating learners in June! And we are identifying the next location for our next Basis Learning Centre.