Teen launches website to help students get free laptops

Chennai: 17-year-old launches website to help students get free laptops, phones

Her mother giving away a used laptop to the housemaid so that her daughter could attend online classes sparked an idea in the mind of 17-year-old Gunisha Aggarwal.

The 12th standard student launched a website to bridge the digital divide by helping students in need of a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone to attend online classes that have now become the order of the day.

In the past one month, Gunisha Aggarwal has collected 25 brand-new tablet devices with help from NGOs and has already distributed five of them to deserving students who reached out through the website.

The initiative is receiving an overwhelming response with the Rotary Club of Chennai Towers pledging 100 new tablets for distribution through www.helpchennai.org. A techie, Balasubramanian, helped design the website, and his company has arranged for engineers to service used devices before they are delivered to the needy.

The website allows people who like to donate, and students in need of help register at the click of a mouse. Those who need help are asked to mention their family income and upload their school identity card or Aadhar card.

Gunisha Aggarwal, daughter of Chennai City Police Commissioner Mahesh Aggarwal, decided to do her bit after having realised that the digital divide which always existed had increased manifold due to the Covid-19 pandemic as almost every school has turned to online classes.

“I saw my mother, Dr Vaneeta Aggarwal, giving a used laptop to our house help for her daughter and that is when I realised how providing spare devices can help the needy. So, I decided to help students whose parents may not have the financial wherewithal to buy them a smartphone. I did this as a fellow human being,” Gunisha Aggarwal told Deccan Herald.

Kelvina, a 10th standard student studying in a private school on the outskirts of Chennai, was struggling to find a smartphone to attend classes as the family had only one device.

“My father supplies drinking water in the area, and he needs the phone most times. I had to miss my classes several times due to the non-availability of a phone. But now I have a tablet device all for myself and it has made my life very easy. Not just to attend classes, the device is helpful to get in touch with teachers on WhatsApp,” Kelvina told Deccan Herald.

Gunisha has tied-up with NGOs to find beneficiaries and distribute the devices as she feels they can help her achieve the goal of helping the needy. In the next few days, she will give five devices to Seva Chakra Samajam, an orphanage here, as part of her initiative.

“My parents have a major role in the way I think. I began working on the project in August and in the past one month we have received 25 devices. We are in the process of connecting with NGOs and individuals who can help us find donors and students who would need our help,” Gunisha Aggarwal said.

The website has a presence on Instagram and Facebook managed by her sister Arshita.