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February 1, 2005

Thanks to Microsoft


Here’s a short glimpse of what one corporation has done so far to help.

Microsoft‘s regional office in Asia Pacific approved an immediate grant the day after the emergency. In addition, Sarvodaya is one of eight eligible NGOs in an employee matching program. Microsoft has previously supported Sarvodaya through the Unlimited Potential Program. That grant, made in June 2004, is helping to expand our multi-purpose commujnity telecentres (MCTs) which offer IT training at the district and village level. The project enhances the Sarvodaya IT program by upgrading the 7 existing district MCTs and expanding the overall program to 13 MCTs.

And some of the details. Truth is, this company has done a lot more than that.

If anyone wonders what a “big corporation” can do if its people are committed, they should read our telephone and email logs about Microsoft. It’s not only the corporation itself that stepped forward. We’ve had calls from Singapore, Florida, Colorado, Colombo and Microsoft headquarters in Washington state from employees who are already helping. One group of volunteers in Redmond has selected an orphanage as the first step in what will be a long-term commitment. Another group of Microsoft employees has set up a technical assistance team for ensuring that Sarvodaya has the information technology required to keep donors and volunteers up to date.

For the first few days after the tsunami, Sarvodaya had volunteers in at least four countries online almost 24 hours a day trying to patch together servers, email systems and reliable information channels. The dedication and support of IT professionals, including those from Microsoft, has been absolutely critical.

I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to have someone from Microsoft ask “What do you need?” In Wisconsin we had an all-volunteer team working on borrowed computers, in loaned offices, with no administrative budget for 30 straight days. Truth is, we were overwhelmed with the task of keeping up with email requests and contributions. It wasn’t just hardware and software that we needed, but some systems thinking that could help us respond with the level of professionalism and genuine appreciation that honored the generosity of each person who contacted us.

Financial contributions from the corporation in early January are now being augmented by its matching of employee donations. That’s a great model for other businesses to follow.

So…from all of us around the world working in this effort together, please know that each gesture and act of generosity is appreciated. Through this tragedy, we’re getting to know friends we never knew we had.

Rick Brooks
Sarvodaya USA Madison, WI

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.