Meet

Our Auxilliary Team Members

Some individuals and former members of Sunbird Trust have moved on to further their career objectives and studies remain a part of the organization and continue to participate in its activities and development. These de-facto team members, who, while not a part of the day to day work of the Trust, remain fully involved in strategic activities and provide guidance and support to the organization.

Sethrichem Sangtam

Hailing from the Meitei community, Babloo is a member of the extended erstwhile royal family of Manipur. He employs his excellent rapport with community leaders across the Manipur Valley to progress Sunbird Trust’s work especially in the Valley districts of the state. Proud of his rich culture and heritage, he has an abiding interest in seeking solutions to the myriad disturbances that beset this part of the country. A para jumper and national level marksman, Babloo is no stranger to adventure and is ever ready to lend his shoulder to help break new ground for Sunbird.

With Sethri’s “out of the box” ideas and leadership, BLF soon started a pioneering goat farm and horticulture projects that benefit 700 families in cluster of 12 villages. He introduced innovative family sized orchards incorporating low chilling varieties apple, kiwi and other temperate fruits. In the process, he encouraged families to gradually relinquish the traditional but wasteful jhum cultivation and shift to permanent farming. With this, Sethri is slowly succeeding in creating sustainable income generation and optimum utilization of land, thus contributing to conservation of bio-diversity and environment sustainability. He now envisages adding value to the horticulture produce and creating forward linkages.

As an experienced social entrepreneur, Sethri oversees Sunbird Trust’s work in Nagaland including its Sponsor a Child scheme. Complementing Sunbird Trust’s “Peace through Education” initiative, he is bringing his immense knowledge and innovative techniques to Sunbird partner villages in Manipur. In 2018, Sethri became a LEAD India Fellow (C 18).

Rajkumar Babloo Singh

Hailing from the Meitei community, Babloo is a member of the extended erstwhile royal family of Manipur. He employs his excellent rapport with community leaders across the Manipur Valley to progress Sunbird Trust’s work especially in the Valley districts of the state. Proud of his rich culture and heritage, he has an abiding interest in seeking solutions to the myriad disturbances that beset this part of the country. A para jumper and national level marksman, Babloo is no stranger to adventure and is ever ready to lend his shoulder to help break new ground for Sunbird.

In keeping with his interests in building bridges between communities in his state, Babloo was instrumental in the success of the Ijeirong Friendship Festival 2016 using his good connections to bring star artistes from varied communities to perform together. He is currently employed as a Loss Prevention professional with a multinational company at Pune. He plays a major role in helping to settle young graduates from the North East in the cities and guide them as they foray for education and employment.

Bipin Shivaji Dhane

Born and raised in a low-income family in Satara, Maharashtra, Bipin Shivaji Dhane excelled at his studies from a young age. Through hard work and the sacrifices his parents made, he completed his B.Tech and M.Tech in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture from IIT Kharagpur in 2013. On his graduation, he joined a company as a Research Engineer in Singapore to assist his family financially. Even as he worked at the job, his heart was towards helping the people in need. After ensuring the financial stability of his family, he decided to quit his well-paying job and returned to India after 3 years.

On returning to India, through a friends suggestion he took up a voluntary teaching position in a small school in Majuli, the river island in Assam. During this tenure, he travelled across the vast riverine island learning of issues that affected education and livelihood of the mainly Mising tribal community. The villagers from the Mising tribes were keen that their children be educated and lead better lives as adults.

On request from community members, Bipin set about building a school in the Kulamua village, which had no functioning school within a 5km radius. With full material and labour support from the surrounding 19 village communities, from the land donated by a village member to free bamboo and wood, the Majuli Island Hummingbird School was constructed. The school started functioning from January 2017. Classes began with 110 children from LKG to class 3. Through Sunbird Trust, Bipin garnered support of well-wishers to sponsor children as well as raise rudimentary infrastructure for the school including a temporary hostel that accommodates 70 children from far-flung villages.

Understanding the larger needs of the community, Bipin along with his core team set up an NGO, Ayang, which means love" in the Mising dialect in November 2017. Ayang hopes to improve their livelihood, assist in relief and rehabilitation from floods, and promote sustainable development apart from working with the education system.

Aswathy Preetha Jayakumar

Aswathy believes that the best answer to most of the world’s problems is our children. She is keenly interested in finding ways in which children in low income communities are best equipped to make the world a better place. A Teach for India Fellow alumna, Aswathy taught socially and economically underprivileged children in the Malwani area in the Western suburbs of Mumbai. Here, as a teacher, her strength was creating, modifying, and changing structures to match what her students need.

Post fellowship, Aswathy joined Sunbird Trust in October 2016 as a Field Volunteer. In two months, she was appointed Programme Manager of Sunbird Trust across its areas of operations in North East India. As a part of this tenure, Aswathy was detailed to visit and stay at partner schools to assess existing practices and support required.

As a person with keen interest in understanding why humans do what they do, scientific competency developed owing to her undergraduate engineering studies in Biotechnology, and ardent belief in the power of education to effect positive change, Aswathy went on to pursue her MA in Peace Education from the United Nations supported Peace University in Costa Rica. The course helped her gain new perspectives into practices and philosophies in the social and development sector. On completion of her Masters course, she moved to Majuli Island where she is currently living and working with the local communities as a member of Ayang Trust, one of Sunbird Trust’s partner organizations. However, she continues to be a core member of the Sunbird Trust team.

Ankita Phalle

For most, travelling as a way of life is a dream. For Ankita Phalle, it became a reality in April 2014, during her last year at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai when she, along with three others launched Mapping Journeys, a travel venture to create a community of travelers who learn from experiences and immerse themselves in local culture.

On her trips to far off villages she found people who had potential but lacked opportunity. She wanted to create an education system tailored to these communities and this led her to do the Teach For India Fellowship. She taught a class of 6th Grade children in a low-income school at Mumbai. Most of them were below-grade-level coping with issues ranging from adolescence to facing domestic violence at home. This taught her to strategically solve problems, build relations with external stake holders, invest parents in the education of their children and create strong classroom culture and opportunities for her students. She took a keen interest in engaging her students in various co-curricular activities to develop their soft skills.

After completion of her Fellowship and gaining knowledge in the Education sector, Ankita joined Sunbird Trust with the aim of creating opportunities for children to explore their potential.

Along with managing Sunbird Trust’s primary program of creating financial and physical access to education for 2100 children in 21 locations across the states of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, she designed programs for interns in these locations. This helped facilitate cultural integration. She was instrumental in setting up a school in erstwhile Army barracks in Puichi village of Manipur. She worked on livelihood development and microfinance projects with local women. In one instance, she trekked for nearly 80 kms in a remote hill area of Manipur to recce a site for building a Sunbird Trust residential school.

While she has now transitioned out of her permanent role as a Programme Manager with Sunbird Trust, Ankita continues to be associated with the organisation in every way she can.

Konish Naidu

A state level footballer, Konish completed his graduation in Civil Engineering. Hailing from a services family, he caught the travel bug through the many postings of his father. The frequent transfers endowed him with much resilience and flexibility. Meeting many children and people who needed to be heard, he discovered his love for working in the development sector. He interned with United Nations (UNDP) in Lesotho, South Africa and worked for NGOs such as CRY and Magic Bus.

Joining Sunbird Trust in May 2017, Konish was based at the Trust’s pilot project at Ijeirong village in Manipur. Here, his aim was to ensure overall development of the children and increase their exposure through sports and co-curricular activities. At Sunbird Trust’s partner Paangkriang Friendship school at Ijeirong, Konish started coaching football crazy youngsters and formed a school football team that represented the school and village. Teamwork, reading skills, writing skills, general knowledge, technology training and public speaking are some of the soft skills that are his primary objectives. His boundless enthusiasm and affable nature has endeared him to his young wards and the village community.

Konish lives by the adage “Travel, Experience, Learn and Give”

Konish has now transitioned from Sunbird Trust but continues to be a team member from afar.

Alrica Dlima

Alrica completed her graduation in Psychology with a course in child care and child development from Mumbai. During her college years, she realized that children, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, had much untapped potential and energy that was not leveraged. She volunteered as a teacher in local orphanages and taught children from low socio-economic backgrounds. She also garnered hands-on experience working with mentally and physically challenged children and adults. Alrica seeks to bring out the best of the children she works with and is convinced that just a smile and a hug can brighten up the dullest day. As a guitarist with a with a beautiful voice to boot, she realizes that music provides a healing touch and is a universal language that brings people from different cultures together.

Seeking to meet people from different cultural backgrounds and with a desire to work for underprivileged children, Alrica joined Sunbird Trust in 2018. She spent several months living and working with HIV affected children at two locations in Churachandpur District of Manipur. She was tasked with visiting and collating information from the over two dozen Sunbird Trust partner schools and villages across the North East. Prior to proceeding for her higher studies at Bangalore, Alrica was Assistant School Leader at our partner organization Hope Foundation at remote Tamei Village in Tamenglong District of Manipur. Here, she played a pivotal role in coordinating a flurry of infrastructure and sponsorship related activities.

S. Huimi Dominic

Hailing from Chadong Village in Ukhrul District of Manipur, Dominic finished his schooling in Manipur before moving to Shillong where he eventually completed his Master’s Degree in History from North Eastern Hill University. He later completed his LLb from Delhi University. Throughout college and University, he was a Student leader, fully involved in student activities. Back in his home state, he has been a practicing lawyer for 15 years. He now devotes most of his time to his community at Chadong after the village was partly submerged by the Mapithel Thoubal Multipurpose project.

Dominic coordinates Sunbird outreach activities including sponsorship of children from in and around his village.

AS Shomrorphi

Hailing from picturesque Shirui Village, synonymous with the Shirui lilly, the state flower of Manipur, Shomrorphi has herself bloomed in Sunbird Trust. Sponsored for her education since her 9 th Std, she is the first alumna of the Trust to become a team member. With an abiding interest to pursue a career that would allow her to serve the underprivileged, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Don Bosco College Maram. She lent her time and knowledge to organizing many events related to social upliftment. Post joining Sunbird Trust in 2018, Shomrorphi chose to be a teacher in the Trust supported Sungcham Friendship School at remote Puichi Village in Noney District of Manipur. Here, she was appointed Assistant School Leader and Community Leader.

Having herself attended a course in soft skill training and with an endearing interest in working with children and youth, Shomrorphi took it upon herself to mentor the little ones and youngsters of the village. She also researched the realities and challenges faced by the community in their daily lives with a view to identify targeted developmental intervention. She has now moved on for her further studies and continues to be associated with the Trust activities.

Michelle Markos

Michelle dreamt of being a teacher right from her school days, but finally took the leap only when she did her two- year Teach for India fellowship. Here, she taught students of classes 8, 9, and 10 in a low-income private school in Pune. Realizing that her school did not have space for post school academic and co-curricular support, she helped set up a community centre for her students to enable them safely utilise their after school hours. Raising this centre and engaging closely with the students sparked her interest in schools and communities. She went on to pursue a Masters in Education specialising in School leadership, Organisation and Management from Azim Premji University, Bangalore. This course helped her strengthen her understanding of the education sector in India immensely. Michelle’s interest in working in North East India began when she interned with Sunbird Trust’s partner Ayang Trust in Majuli, Assam. This was a part of her final research thesis on the topic of school and community engagements in geographically challenged areas. Her stint here gave her a stronger understanding of the challenges that schools and communities faced in such remote locations. She also came to appreciate the role of organisations like Sunbird Trust in mitigating these challenges. Resonating with Sunbird Trust’s vision of ‘Peace through Education’ led her to joining the organisation. Michelle is now an assistant school leader in Sungcham Friendship School at Puichi Village in Noney District of Manipur.