Five years ago, Nishi Kaura’s family vacation to India included a visit to a girls orphanage. Meeting some of the girls and learning that they wanted to pursue careers in tech and achieve financial independence, Nishi was inspired to help.
She started small, with fundraising efforts and spreading online awareness about technical education for underserved groups. After raising a few thousand dollars, Nishi donated resources such as laptops and developed technical literacy curriculums to teach the girls. Nishi continued supporting the girls for the next few years by teaching technical literacy.
What inspires you to volunteer?
After meeting the girls at the orphanage, I realized that taking collective action towards making technology equitable is so important to unlocking the futures of underserved people, especially women.
Seeing the enthusiasm in the girls’ eyes and knowing the obstacles they faced to a fulfilling and prosperous life, I was inspired to create ChiCode, a tech-forward nonprofit that aims to dismantle existing societal barriers surrounding minority groups in tech.
Describe your volunteer role with ChiCode.
I am head of the Social Media and Workshops department. I founded the podcast segment and developed the Intro to Java, Advanced Java and Slides Presentations courses.
ChiCode has worked with 300+ students from over 13+ countries with the support of ten companies. We have worked with many different underrepresented groups in tech including migrant domestic workers in Singapore, refugee women from Iran and Congo living in Greece, South Africa women, people from villages in Brazil and more.
ChiCode recently worked with refugee women from Iran and the Congo through website development courses. Their website will enable them to showcase their work in journalism, including documentaries and photography, as a tool to attract new clients. This website has allowed them to both grow their business and provide a platform for future projects, leveraging technology for whatever success may mean to them in the future.
As founder of the podcast segment, we invite technical leaders to share their journey in tech and give advice to younger students aspiring to join the tech field or students in general looking for meaningful advice and to connect with mentors. Recently, we have had guests like Rama Akkiraju, the Chief Technical Officer of IBM, and Rashim Mogha, Founder of Empowered Women of the World and a bestselling author on Amazon.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the groups that I work with through ChiCode build success through technology, whether it’s refugee women in Greece using their technical skills in website development to expand their client base or students in our coding programs building projects that positively impact their communities.
Recently I got a call from the head of the orphanage, Ms. Puri, letting her know that three of the girls I had worked with are now pursuing Computer Science degrees in college. It is truly humbling to know that I played a small role in enabling their passion for tech, whether their interests lie in coding, website development or other tech areas.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
Through working with many different people from a variety of cultures, I realized the importance of leading with empathy. It dictates decisions and the community we are able to build and foster. This understanding allows for collaboration and synergy which is essential when it comes to helping support diverse communities.
Are there any future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about?
I am excited about partnering with schools in Africa to bring technical literacy to more students through the Asante Africa Foundation. I am also looking forward to partnering with Her Journey to teach digital skills to female migrant domestic workers in Singapore through ChiCode.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
From my story, I hope others can learn that supporting one’s community can be done through many different avenues depending on your passions and the impact you aim to create. There are always people willing to help you in community service so finding a group of people to work with can be very helpful and meaningful in your journey.
Why do you think it’s important to get involved with causes they care about?
It’s important to acknowledge the opportunities that we receive in our life and pay it forward to others who are also in need of an opportunity or a chance to better themselves in different aspects of their lives.
Especially for me in the tech space, being able to help bridge the gap in accessibility between minority groups and tech is essential as we must ensure that we continue to provide opportunities for under-resourced communities to leverage as stepping stones towards achieving professional success. We must take collective action to strive towards making technology equitable by dismantling barriers and unlocking futures as technology has the ability to uplift our communities.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Nishi? Find local volunteer opportunities.