The man behind Sunbird Trust

Col Christopher Rego (Retd)

A graduate from the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Col Chris Rego was commissioned into the Corps of Army Engineers in 1984. Over three decades, till his retirement in January 2016, he has tenanted varied appointments in the Army, serving across the length and breadth of the country.

During his service, Chris Rego had two extended tenures, at Mizoram and Manipur serving on deputation with the Assam Rifles and the Border Roads Organisation. Seeing the plight of children from underprivileged families in conflict affected states, Chris and his wife Myrna decided to make a difference and began sponsoring education of children in 2004. With the graduation of these youngsters and their successful employment, many others soon joined the informal Sunbird venture. Noting the obvious linkage between marginalization of the people and radicalization of youth, Chris sought innovative ways to provide physical and financial access to education. Over the next decade, he worked with different ethnic communities across the North Eastern states, understanding issues that impacted society and in particular the children’s education. Chris envisaged the important role of hostels in providing far flung communities with access to education and oversaw the construction of the first Friendship Hostel at Ijeirong village and Friendship School at Muvanlai. At the core of every venture was “Friendship”, a principle that saw children of varied ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds live and study together in mutual respect and harmony, supported by people from other parts of India. Using his own position, he also leveraged the assistance of various Government organisations in this venture.

The growth of the Sunbird initiative necessitated a formal identity and Sunbird Trust was registered in 2014. By 2016 over 320 children were being sponsored by the Sunbird team in five North East Indian states and 20 alumni had been suitably employed in various professions.

Having an enduring interest in social entrepreneurship, Col Chris completed his MA in Public Administration while in service. In 2003, taking a sabbatical, he obtained his PGDBM from Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore. He is an author, traveler, pianist, nature enthusiast and amateur herpetologist. He has written three books including a travelogue on Kerala and “Cradle of Valour”, the history of the Bombay Engineer Group Centre at Khadki. His photographs of North East India have graced magazines like Discover India and Mizoram state calendars and tourism brochures. Christopher and Myrna Rego have also researched and documented the cuisine of Mizo tribes.

On retiring from the Army, the Trustees appointed Chris Rego as Managing Director of Sunbird Trust. He now devotes his time to building the organisation that he had a major role in conceiving.