Growing up in Mumbai, India, Bernadine de Souza always watched a bevy of little girls from the local orphanage sing their hearts out at Sunday church service.
Their hair neatly combed and in ribbons, they left an indelible mark on her. For Philip de Souza, education is a passion. Philip uses every opportunity he can get to mentor high school kids and send them a monthly blog.
On their 25th Anniversary this loving couple decided it was time to step up their game and give back in a bigger way. To create a program that was meaningful, scalable and could be supported by their children, family, extended family and friends. Initially they were highly motivated by the thought of supporting a girl from an orphanage in India or Kenya and provide this child the support and resources from grade school through a Ph.D. perhaps! Tossing the idea about with friends, co-workers and colleagues was exciting and lots of advice began pouring in. Philip remembers the moment he was on a call with his India office and they asked why not educate underprivileged girls from the local public school next door? Public schools in under developed countries are very different from ones in the United States. Yes, the fact that they are government funded is common, however usually only the very poor would send their children to public or “Municipal” schools as they are better known.
The India office operates during the night hours in India (US day) leaving a fully computerized facility empty during the day, and the fact that the public school was right next door was serendipitous.
The idea was to run a test class to see the response. The first batch of 6 very nervous eleven year old girls with Class teacher and School Principal in tow nervously began moving a mouse for the very first time in their lives. Or watching with glee as google maps came into view on the projector screen and they saw the world with astonishment. The team was empowered by the difference they were making in these young girls lives. Left unattended they would end up as child labor or marry early. To encourage attendance they were provided a meal at the end of each class, and the child that showed the most progress won a tablet.
A post about the first computer class lead to a deluge of Facebook offers to help with course, money and resources, including a generous offer from a prestigious Los Angeles law firm to set up the company and seek IRS nonprofit 501 C 3 status. And thus Ainiti was born…