Col. Christopher Rego (Retd.)Founder And CEO
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 in 2014 of the first Friendship Hostel at Ijeirong village and Friendship School at Muvanlai in Manipur. 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, a secular, non-denominational organization was registered in 2014. In 2016, for his innovative approach to peace building, Col. Chris was awarded the prestigious international Ashoka Fellowship from South Asia.
By 2020 over 3,300 children were being sponsored by the Sunbird team in five North East Indian states and 25 alumni had been suitably employed in various professions. The organisation was building 15 institutions (schools and hostels). The Sunbird Team also grew rapidly and by 2020 had 19 team members.
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, traveller, 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 Chief Executive Officer of Sunbird Trust. He now devotes his time to building the organisation that he had a major role in conceiving.
Ryan LoboFounder Trustee
Ryan Lobo is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer who has produced and shot more than 70 documentaries on subjects ranging from the Afghan drug trade, Papua New Guinean tribal rites to King Cobras and various photography projects for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His films have aired on the National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, OWN and PBS among other networks. His photography and writing have been featured in numerous publications and his limited-edition prints are present in many collections. A TED speaker, Ryan Lobo has co-produced the 2011 Sundance film festival award winning film, “The Redemption of General Butt Naked”. Ryan owns Mad Monitor Productions, a film and photo Production Company based in Bangalore. He has featured in the Boston Review, National Geographic, Caravan, Bidoun Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Ryan’s first novel, MrIyer Goes to War was released by Bloomsbury UK in 2018
Dr. Dayaprasad G. Kulkarni, MDTrustee
Dr.Dayaprasad G Kulkarni – a medical doctor, public health specialist, entrepreneur, artist and development consultant; founded Doctors For Seva Arogya Foundation – a flexible micro volunteering platform for doctors to provide free healthcare services to over 100000 underserved beneficiaries in 7 countries. He has also set up the Global Health Volunteer Alliance, a not for profit company in the US, having a network of over 25,000 medical professionals. He is a medical graduate working for the last ten years at the community level with vulnerable, marginalized and underserved populations. In 2007, after completing his Masters in Clinical Research from the UK, he founded MadhyamaPrasaran and Scientific Research Foundation, a multimedia NGO, working in the field of health and education. He is also the founder of Handbloom, a socio-bio-ethical enterprise, which brings together diverse eco-friendly, biodegradable products made by communities and individuals who are highly vulnerable in society and are presently not self-sustained. Dr.Dayaprasad is an Erasmus Mundus Fellow, an APLP Fellow from the East West Centre, Hawaii, USA and Common Purpose Navigator Fellow, UK. He has previously worked with International organizations like the Wellcome Trust, MSF, PSI, HIVAIDS Alliance, University of Manitoba. He also serves as the Scientific Advisor for the Confederation of NGO’s of Rural India with over 15,000 members. As Senior Assistant Professor at the Trans-Disciplinary University in Bangalore he is the Program Director of the Study Abroad program and teaches “Introduction to Global Public Health, Complimentary and Integrative medicine” and “Humanities in Medical Education in India”. He has done over 25 theatre productions, 1 feature film, 3 short films, animation videos and several sustainability, entrepreneurship, leadership training and Organizational development workshops. Currently, Dr Dayaprasad is working towards creating a common pool of human resources working in the developmental sector. This pool will be a source of knowledge, data and expertise capable of providing support and help to any individual or organization needing it. He is also developing a leadership program for primary healthcare workers in Low and Middle income countries.