On employment, youth supported by Sunbird become members of the alumni network and are encouraged to become community leaders and facilitators. They are encouraged to engage with the mission of Sunbird by contributing financially and in-kind. They serve as mentors and role models for sponsored children.
Dr Ben Khiangte
Born in an underprivileged agricultural family from Mizoram, Benjamine Khiangte sought the help of the Sunbird team in 2004 to complete his MBBS. With an interest free loan though the “Loan Scholarship Scheme” (then being run under the aegis of the Maria Seva Sangha), he graduated from Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha.
In 2009, Ben secured admission into the prestigious and competitive Post Graduate (MD, Internal Medicine) course at his old college. During this time, the Sunbird team continued to support him. Completing his post-graduation in 2012, Ben practiced as a consultant Physician, Geriatrician and Diabetologist at Nazareth Hospital, Shillong. Married to Hmai (an Audiologist) and with a young son Nathan, he is now pursuing his super specialty (DNB in Gastroenterology) at Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Thiruvananthapuram. Today, Ben not only supports other needy students from his village but also sponsors two other children in the Sunbird Sponsor a Child scheme.
Dr Ben Khiangte, a distinguished alumnus, is on the Advisory Board of Sunbird Trust.
“I thank the Sunbird team for coming to my rescue at a critical time in my career. Their timely and sustained assistance helped me transcend my financial difficulties and complete my studies. Inspired by this initiative, I will remain an active and lifelong contributor in this noble endeavour.”
Coming from the remote and underdeveloped Marpara area of Mizoram, Dilip is a member of the predominantly Buddhist Chakma tribe. This displaced community faces persecution in both Bangladesh (from where they originate) and in parts of India as well. In 2007, Dilip was granted a loan by Team Sunbird to finance his LLB at the prestigious National Law School University of India (NLSUI) at Bangalore.
In Feb 2010, Dilip secured an internship with a human rights organization ‘Geneva for Human Rights’ in Switzerland. During this internship, he worked on various thematic and country specific issues of human rights. In addition, he attended the Universal Periodic Review Working Group at the UN office and later participated in the 13th UN Human Rights Council Session.
Keen to join the Administrative Services, Dilip, now a qualified lawyer is preparing for his Civil Service Examinations. He is determined to work for the upliftment of his marginalized community. One of Sunbird Trust’s distinguished alumni, Dilip along with another alumnus, Dr Ben Khiangte is a member of Sunbird’s Advisory Committee.
“I am deeply indebted to Sunbird Trust for their support when I needed it most. The financial assistance allowed me to concentrate on my professional studies when help from elsewhere was not forthcoming. I am honoured to be on the Advisory Council of Sunbird Trust and pledge my services to this endeavour that is making a meaningful difference to so many marginalized youngsters in my part of the country.”
Belonging to the Garo tribe of Meghalaya and hailing from an underprivileged family from a remote part of the state, Kresitha Momin decided to take up teaching music as a career. In 2012, she sought the Sunbird Team’s help for a scholarship to pursue her BA (Music) from St Anthony’s College Shillong and was granted a free loan scholarship. To support herself, she worked as a nanny to children of a family while attending college. Often walking miles to college to save money, she excelled and graduated in 2015 with the Gold Medal in the course.
As most institutions required a post graduate degree for teachers, Kresitha chose to pursue her MA (Music). With few options in India for a PG degree in Music Education, she again approached Sunbird for a loan to pursue the degree from Santa Isabel Conservatory of Music, Manila, one of the best institutions of its kind in Asia. Given her outstanding performance in the BA Course, Sunbird Team members rose to the occasion and not only advanced a loan to Kresitha but also underwrote her travelling expenses to the Philippines. Rewarding the faith reposed in her, Kresitha secured over 90% in her first term exam and is excelling in the course. She is confident of getting a suitable placement at any prestigious institution on her graduation and is determined to provide for her family.
“I can scarcely believe that total strangers could be so supportive and help my dreams come true. I am making my future livelihood almost entirely due to the kind assistance provided to me by Sunbird”.
In 2007, a retired Insurance agent, Shri L Bishanbor, a Meitei from Imphal, approached Sunbird for a loan for his son Andyson to pursue a three year course in International Hospitality Management from ITM IHM, Bangalore. He said that he had brought his son to the city to give him a better chance in life, given the complete lack of opportunities in his home state, Manipur. Though the amount requested was very large, the loan was raised through Sunbird team members. Andyson topped his batch in the first year and secured a prestigious internship with the Oberoi hotel. However, in the meanwhile, his father suddenly of a heart attack leaving his wife and four children without any financial support whatsoever.
Unable to pay his hostel and other expenditure, Andyson left his course and returned home to Imphal. Thanks to pledges of support from Sunbird team members, he was able to rejoin and complete the course. He then secured a job with a Bangalore resort where he has worked since 2009 and is now in the process of getting employment at a hotel in Australia. An expert in baking, he can seamlessly work across cuisines and is a valued member of the team at the resort.
In 2007, when her father died suddenly, Angela, from the Meitei community of Manipur was studying in her 12th standard in a school near the state capital Imphal. In difficult financial circumstances, she was unable to afford her fees and midway through her 12th standard was expelled from school till she paid her back fees. The heartless school administration even refused to give her a transfer certificate to seek admission in an affordable school elsewhere till she paid her dues.
At the intervention of Sunbird team members, Angela’s school relented and waived her dues. With assistance from the Maria Seva Sangha, a partner organization, and sponsorship by the Seema Nazareth Memorial Trust, she completed her 12th Std with flying colours. Subsequently, Angela secured admission to the B.Sc. course at Bangalore’s prestigious Mount Carmel college thanks to the continuing sponsorship of the Seema Nazareth Memorial Trust. Introduced to a foster family at Bangalore by the Sunbird team, Angela had the full support of the full support of this family who had lost their own daughter of her age under tragic circumstances. Sunbird team members Rajesh and Renu Chabria supported Angela for much of her hostel expenditure.
A smart and self-assured young woman, Angela, now a graduate, works for a Bangalore based medical billing company and is completely self-sufficient even supporting her mother. She aims to save some money before doing an MBA and advancing her career.