Toshan, giving back to the community through mentoring, India

Hi, I’m Toshan. I live in Bangalore, the tech hub of India. Coding is a big part of my life; I love exploring its limitless opportunities. But I feel I have learned coding the hard way and as a result, I want to help other young people in my city to tap into this wonderful world of computing.

I was a mischievous kid, yes, that’s kind of appropriate: mischievous, naughty, and academically good. I’ve always liked, you know, electronics and stuff. If there was any electronic item that was not working, I would actually dismantle it completely. I just like to find out what’s going on there and how is the thing working?

So, when I was 12, my computer teacher, Miss Sonya, got me into coding. The unique thing is she just doesn’t stop where the syllabus ends. She told me about Raspberry Pi, she told me how you could use it, and from there the journey started.

I was really excited, but the early days weren’t that easy. The internet at home was hit and miss, I had to use our TV as a monitor, I had to even borrow a keyboard and mouse from my neighbour. Luckily, dad was there to help, he introduced me to the Raspberry Pi Foundation community. I felt so supported — to have a huge community is pretty helpful, a lot helpful actually. They can help me, I can help them.

When the opportunity to enter Coolest Projects online came, I jumped right at it. I posted a hardware-related project: it was an automated hand sanitizer. It was a lot of fun doing this, I was able to get to know people and get to know their ideas as well. The Raspberry Pi community had helped me a lot, so I wanted to give something back.

I set up my YouTube channel and when I was 14, I started organising CoderDojos with mum and dad, giving me a platform to mentor young coders in Bangalore. Everyone is welcome, you don’t need a Raspberry Pi to get involved. Students come, they learn how to code, and have fun. I actually enjoy helping people with the problems they have. People have different ideas — if we help them go through their approach properly, then they might use their different ideas in different ways, and bring out something new into this world.

Mentoring has become a really important part of my life, but it’s actually at night when the entire city has gone to bed that I take out time for myself where I can work on my own projects and dream of what is around the corner.