India – A Feast for the Eyes

Elephant in Traffic

Glances out the window reveal life in action. A bare-foot and bare-bottomed boy running down an alleyway using a stick to control a rolling bicycle tire. An old man wrapped in many layers of clothing to ward off the morning cold, lighting his morning cigarette. A young girl, maybe 10, carrying a toddler along the sidewalk on her hip. Begging. Filthy. Her hair matted with dirt. But somehow pretty all the same.

An elephant, painted for some occasion-or maybe just for an everyday show. A platform strapped to his/her back with a single large rope. Moving through traffic, horns blaring on all sides, the sound of bells clanging as the huge beast rocks back and forth on a stiff march through the centre of the city. What is the look in his or her eye?

A groom riding a white horse as part of a noisy procession. Making his way to his wedding. Not a young man. Women, girls, young men colorfully dressed. All dancing along throwing some sort of powder in the air as they followed a small vehicle playing music over a loudspeaker.

A man working in a building 6 ft square – a barber shop. A look of pride and recognition as we make our way past his shop for the second time today. We see him and he sees us as he flicks a sheet around the shoulders of his next customer.

A woman on the back of a motorcycle. Dressed elegantly and colorfully. Barely hanging on, just balancing – years of experience. She has her head buried behind the drivers back, looking down at her cell phone -texting someone. Oblivious to us or the cows her driver is snaking through on the tiny village road.

India is a study of beauty. And that beauty is found right next to or between the filth. Focus on the stench, the garbage everywhere, the cacophony of noisy car horns blaring and you will have great distaste. But make eye contact with people, see their beauty, see the smiles, see through the dirty exterior and you will find the beauty of the human condition. And then it is gone.

India is a feast for the eyes and paying attention is the only requirement.

SC Cares International Project 2015: Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural India!

TJatan Logohe countdown is on as the Softchoice Cares Board anticipates its departure to Rajasthan, India on February 6th for its next International Project! Softchoice’s employees and our partners support and donate time and money to local causes across North America throughout the year. To spread the orange even further, Softchoice Cares also chooses one organization to help bridge the digital divide across international borders every 18 months.

Improving education and training through technology!

Jatan PicThis year, our 12-person team will support Jatan Sansthan – a local, grassroots, not-for-profit organization that supports the rural villages of Rajasthan Province, India. Jatan’s vision is to have an equal, empowered society in India – and provides programs that give equal access to health care, advocacy and technology, with an emphasis on ensuring women and children have fair opportunities for education.

How is Softchoice supporting Jatan?

Jatan runs Education and Youth Resource Centers in the remote rural villages of Rajsamand districts of Rajasthan. Softchoice Cares is supporting the organization’s continued success by:

  • Providing computer resources and access to technology for over 240 students visiting Jatan’s Centers.
  • Supplying computers, educational software, and a strong network backbone to provide internet access.
  • Working together to help build the first of the organization’s three new facilities in a nearby village. (Jatan has already started on the foundation for the building – check out the pics below!)

The new technology set-up will improve Jatan’s ability to continue its success of achieving their vision and improving literacy rates amongst community children, and generating awareness towards education. In addition, approximately 10% of students will receive the improved vocational training required to obtain employment – something they may not have had the opportunity to do!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Jatan and help unleash potential by providing people with access to technology and edcuation in rural India!

You can stay updated on our progress in India by checking back on the CSR blog and Liking our SC Cares Facebook page for daily updates!

In the meantime, to learn more about Jatan’s programs, please visit the charity’s website.

Creating a More Strategic Corporate Giving Program

softchoice cares image 3

Almost 150 years ago, Samuel Morse (yes, the inventor of Morse code), fired off the very first telegraph message between Washington and Baltimore, making him the first to ever achieve instantaneous, long-distance communication. Morse ushered in the era of communication technology that would allow for immediate access to information, better education, and broadened opportunities for populations across the world. After Morse’s invention went global, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)  was formed in 1865. The ITU (which is still going strong today) marked May 17 as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The goal? Raise awareness of the many opportunities that technology can bring to communities around the world. [Read more…]

How the 2004 Tsunami changed the Softchoice Brand

Paul Asseff, Nick Foster, Edwin Jansen and Scott Harper volunteering in Tangalle

The day after Christmas 2004 many of us watched in horror as pictures of the Tsunami in South East Asia filled the press. For Softchoice, it was the beginning of a different kind of wave that changed our Brand.  Softchoice today is known for its corporate giving but it wasn’t always this way.

As a company we had not been involved in any kind of organized corporate giving. But, the employees of Softchoice decided that they could do more. They decided to raise money so that we could be involved in providing help. Grass roots fundraising started, garage sales were organized, bake sales were held, hats were passed at customer golf tournaments. I can’t tell you how many other events were run – some of them raising only hundreds of dollars – however the sum total of these activities raised $85,000 to be put to use in helping those that had lost so much. [Read more…]

CSR Programs: Why some thrive and others nose-dive.

Your sustainability plan isn’t worth a beaver dam if your employees aren’t engaged in the strategy.

Just like the hard-working beaver, employee commitment makes a huge difference in the environment!

This year when Softchoice was named to Canada’s Green 30, I wondered if there was a common thread among the organizations recognized. After reading more about them, I found that their employees’ feedback not only put them on the list, but employee involvement is driving the success of their sustainability programs.

This isn’t surprising. As with many workplaces, engaged employees are the internal change agents, fueling innovation and success of many programs. According to GreenResearch’s 2012 Annual Sustainability Executive Survey, staff engagement is one of the top two sustainability trends for 2012 – simply because “engaged employees make things happen”. They are the “make-it-or-break-it” factor. [Read more…]

Eight things I learned during our Bali mission

  1. Children are inspirational: They are resilient and whatever life throws at them, they take it in stride. They also look towards the future rather than harping on the past.
  2. When it comes to team work – whether it’s an IT project, moving dirt and sand, or wall-painting at a construction site – the total is greater than the sum of the individual efforts.
  3. Always have a plan B, or maybe even a plan C ready no matter what. [Read more…]