Volunteering at PPES
By:- Lizzie Twigger

I’m Lizzie, I am a solicitor in London, specialising in employment law. In November 2018 I had a fantastic opportunity to spend two weeks at Pardada Pardadi Educational Society volunteering.

Although I arrived with several plans and projects, this is India and I quickly realised that my skills from my former life as a teacher of English literature were going to be useful – within hours of arriving I was working on essay planning and structure, and teaching spider plans, aka mind mapping, to several of the senior girls preparing for upcoming scholarship programmes.

Volunteering at the school means being prepared to be flexible and adaptable and to roll up your sleeves and just get on with what needs doing. So, I spent my time primarily working with those girls to improve their exam and interview techniques. I found myself drawing on skills I hadn’t consciously realised I had to develop their thinking and presentational abilities – it was challenging and such great fun. I loved it.

I did manage to fulfil a couple of my projects, including presenting an assembly on the Global Goals, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with the support of my two wonderful translators Kalash and Rekha. We put up a display and shared the fantastic teaching resources available online – so I hope I was able to support and enhance the amazing work on human rights being done in the school and demonstrated everywhere, on every wall and in every classroom.

My abiding memory from my time is going to be of the intense, absorbed attention shown by the girls I taught – how interested, engaged, hungry they are for the opportunities and education offered to them. I worked closely with six girls in particular and I will never forget any of them, but in truth that intensity and hunger is evident everywhere within the school walls. Every girl I met reminded me what a special opportunity this school offers them.

My highlights? Seeing the impact a few simple organisational skills could have on the girls’ ability to present themselves – what a huge difference can be made so quickly. Going with one of my students to her home and meeting the mother who has made such a difference to her life by supporting her education. Watching the infants in the Diwali excitement. Having an honest question and answer session on my last afternoon – their questions were so incisive and perceptive.  And the genuine affection that developed between these special young women and me – I felt very lucky indeed.

Volunteering at PPES is a privilege. I am so glad I had the chance to do it. I’d recommend it to anyone. I can’t wait to return

सिमरन की मम्मियां
By:- A blog by Mr. Sanjay Sinha, Senior Executive Editor of AajTak. Dated: 27th January’18

कल मैं सिमरन की मम्मियों से मिल कर आया।

मेरे पत्रकारीय जीवन में ये पहला मौका था जब मुझे कुछ बोलने के लिए बुलाया गया तो सामने कई सौ सिमरन की मम्मियां थीं।

यकीनन आप सोच में पड़ गए होंगे कि संजय सिन्हा सिमरन की मम्मियों से मिलने गए, कौन सिमरन? और अचानक उन्हें मम्मियों से मिलने की क्या ज़रूरत आ पड़ी?

मैं चाहूं तो अपनी इस मुलाकात का सस्पेंस अभी बनाए रख सकता हूं। लेकिन मैं ऐसा नहीं करूंगा। मैं चाहता हूं कि आप अभी सिर्फ उस सिमरन को याद करें, जो शाहरुख खान की फिल्म‘दिल वाले दुल्हनिया ले जाएंगे’ की नायिका थी। मुझे यकीन है कि फिल्म आपने देखी होगी। नहीं भी देखी हो तो कोई बात नहीं। संजय सिन्हा अपनी आंखों से पहले आपको वो फिल्मदिखलाएंगे, फिर कहानी आगे बढ़ाएंगे।

सिमरन एक लड़की है, जिसे ज़िंदगी अपनी मर्जी से जीने का हक नहीं। वो बाऊजी की मर्जी से जीती है। बाऊजी जो चाहते हैं, उसे वही करना है। बाऊजी चाहे लंदन में रह रहे हो या भारत केकिसी गांव में। इससे सिमरन की ज़िंदगी में कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता। बाऊजी पैसे वाले हों या गरीब, सिमरन का भाग्य इन बातों से नहीं बदलने वाला क्योंकि लड़कियों का मन बाऊजी जीसंचालित करते हैं।

‘दिल वाले दुल्हनिया ले  जाएंगे’ की नायिका, जिसका नाम सिमरन था, वो तो लंदन में रहती थी, पर वो अपनी मर्ज़ी से नहीं जीती थी। उसे घूमने जाना है, तो अपने पिता, जिन्हें वो बाऊजीबुलाती है, से पूछना पड़ता है। उसे प्रेम करना है तो बाऊजी ही तय करेंगे। शादी करनी है तो बाऊजी ही तय करेंगे। सिमरन अपनी मर्ज़ी की ज़िंदगी नहीं जीती।

पर एक दिन उसकी मां खड़ी हो जाती है और अपनी बेटी से कहती है कि सिमरन, तुम भाग जाओ इस घर से और वो कर लो, जो तुम करना चाहती हो। तुम अपनी मर्ज़ी की ज़िंदगी जियो।

पर क्यों? वो ऐसा क्यों कहती है? मांएं भला अपनी बेटियों से ऐसा कहती हैं?

सिमरन की मां कहती है कि मैं नहीं चाहती कि तुम्हारे साथ भी वही हो, जो मेरे साथ हुआ। मैं अपनी मर्ज़ी की ज़िंदगी नहीं जी पाई। पर मैं चाहती हूं कि तुम अपनी मर्ज़ी की ज़िंदगी जियो।

बस ऐसी ही कुछ सिमरनों की मम्मियों से मैं कल मिल कर आया।

कल मैं बुलंदशहर के पास अनूपशहर गया था। मुझे पता चला था कि वहां ‘परदादा-परदादी’ नामक लड़कियों का स्कूल है।

परदादा-परदादी नाम सुन कर मुझे लगा था कि कोई पुरातन पंथी स्कूल होगा। मुझे वहां कुछ बोलने को बुलाया गया था। मैंने मन में सोचा था कि गांव की लड़कियां होंगी, उन्हें मुझे कहानियांसुनानी होंगी। पर मेरे सामने तो एक भी लड़की नहीं थीं। सारी मांएं थीं। कोई घूंघट में, कोई सिर पर पल्लू लिए। मैं चुपचाप बैठा था।

बहुत देर बाद पता चला कि ये वो मांएं हैं, जो अपनी बेटियों के सपनों को साकार होते देखने आई हैं। ये वो मांएं हैं, जिन्हें कभी स्कूल जाने का मौका नहीं मिला। जिनकी ज़िंदगी बाऊजी कीमर्जी से गुज़र गई। पर जब बीस साल पहले यहां अमेरिका से आए बुलंदशहर के भाई वीरेंद्र सिंह ने लड़कियों के लिए स्कूल खोलने का  फैसला किया तो सबसे आगे लड़कियों की मांएं हीआईं। लड़कियों के बाऊजी तो तब भी कह रहे थे बेटियों को क्या पढ़ाना? पढ़-लिख कर वो करेंगी क्या? उन्हें तो दूसरे घर जाना है, चौका-बर्तन करना है, बच्चे पैदा करने हैं। वो कौन-सा हमारेकाम आने वाली हैं, जो उनकी पढ़ाई पर पैसे खर्च किए जाएं?

वीरेंद्र सिंह जी, बुलंदशहर के एक गांव के रहने वाले हैं और बहुत कम उम्र में अमेरिका जा कर बस गए थे। वहां एक बड़ी कंपनी में वो चीफ की भूमिका में काम कर रहे थे। उन्हें वहीं कीनागरिकता मिल गई थी। वहां उन्होंने खूब नाम और पैसे कमाए। पर मन में एक कसक रह गई थी कि अपने देश, अपने गांव के लिए कुछ नहीं कर पाए। इतने पैसे कमाए, पर समाज को कुछलौटा नहीं पाए। बस इसी एक ख्याल ने उन्हें भारत की ओर मोड़ दिया। वो गांव चले आए और अपने पैसों से उन्होंने तय किया कि एक स्कूल खोला जाए। लड़कियों के लिए स्कूल। नामदिया परदादा-परदादी स्कूल।

अनूपशहर में उन्होंने ये स्कूल खोला, पर कोई पिता अपनी बेटी को वहां पढ़ने भेजने को तैयार ही नहीं था।

वीरेंद्र सिंह जी ने हिम्मत नहीं हारी। उन्होंने गांव वालों को समझाना जारी रखा कि अपनी बेटियों को पढ़ाओगे तो उनका जीवन संवर जाएगा। वो मर्जी की जिंदगी जी पाएंगी। पर पिताओं कोपता था कि बेटियां पराया धन होती हैं। उन पर पैसे खर्चने का कोई फायदा नहीं।

वीरेंद्र सिंह ने संदेश भिजवाया कि पढ़ाई मुफ्त होगी।

“मुफ्त भी नहीं पढ़ानी हमें बेटियां। कहीं काम करेगी तो दस रूपए कमा कर लाएंगी।”

“अच्छा, स्कूल आने पर दस रूपए रोज़ भी दूंगा।”

“नहीं। उनके स्कूल आने-जाने पर कपड़े तो खरीदने होंगे।”

“यूनिफार्म भी स्कूल मुफ्त देगा, कॉपी-किताबें भी।”

“और वो बाहर निकलेंगी तो खाने-पीने पर उनका खर्च बढ़ेगा।”

“स्कूल उन्हें खाना भी देगा।”

“नहीं, तब भी नहीं भेजेंगे लड़कियों को स्कूल। बेटियां हैं, उनकी ज़िंदगी में कौन-सी क्रांति आनी है?”

बस यहीं खड़ी हो गईं, बेटियों की माएं।

“उन्हें स्कूल जाने दो न जी। पढ़ लेंगी तो क्या पता उन्हें वो ज़िंदगी न जीनी पड़े, जो हम जी रही हैं।”

बाऊजी भड़के। पर घूंघट में चौके के चूल्हे में आंच तेज़ करती मांएं उठ खड़ी हुईं। जाओ, सिमरन तुम स्कूल जाओ। बाऊजी को हम देखते हैं। हम तुम्हारे साथ वो नहीं होने देंगे, जो हमारे साथहुआ। हम चौका और घूंघट में फंस गए। तुम नहीं फंसोगी। तुम जाओ, सुना है कि धरती बहुत बड़ी है। ऊपर आसमान भी है। सुना है कि आदमी उड़ने भी लगा है। तुम जाओ। तुम उड़ जाओ।

और बेटियां स्कूल आने लगीं। बहुत मुश्किलें आईं। पर आज इस स्कूल में करीब डेढ़ हज़ार बेटियां नर्सरी से बारहवीं तक की पढ़ाई कर रही है।

कल संजय सिन्हा उन बेटियों से भी मिले, जो पढ़ कर अफसर बन रही हैं, खेल के नेशनल टीम में शामिल हो रही हैं, शोध कर रही हैं। उड़ रही है। अनूपशहर से अमेरिका की दूरी तय कर रहीहैं। सबसे मिला।

पर आज कहानी सिर्फ मम्मियों की।

मैं उनसे मिला। कुछ से बातें भी की। बेटियां अंग्रेजी गाने गा रही थीं। मांए शब्द नहीं समझ रही थीं, पर उन बेटियों में खुद को जी रही थीं। वो जान रही थीं कि दुनिया में सिर्फ एक भाषा नहींजो अनूपशहर मे बोली जाती हैं। दुनिया में हज़ार तरह की भाषाएं हैं और बेटियां उन्हीं में से एक बोल रही हैं।

मांएं खुश थीं। अपनी सिमरनों को अपनी मर्ज़ी की ज़िंदगी जीते देख कर।

मैं भी खुश था। उन मांओं से मिल कर।

बच्चे मां-बाप के सपने होते हैं। पर उनकी एक ज़िंदगी होती है। सबको ज़िंदगी जीने का हक देना चाहिए।

आज इतना ही। फिर कभी स्कूल की पूरी कहानी भी सुनाऊंगा। पर अभी तो मैं खोया हूं मम्मियों की उम्मीदों में। मैं खोया हूं मम्मियों के साकार होते सपनों में।

Future Mothers
By:- S. Deenadayalan, Vice Chairman, CEO-Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Future Mothers- “If educated [not about academic stamping], India will be an economic superpower”- Sam Singh. If only each one of us can visit Pardada Pardadi Educational Society in Anupshahr, and understand what poverty is, why educating girls is a challenge and if some families do overcome and send girls to school, how the community boycotts. While most households do not have electricity and amidst all these challenges girls and women are still receiving education and becoming empowered all thanks to Pardada Pardadi.

After 19 years, one can look back with satisfaction at the amazing work that has took place at Pardada Padadi. In total there are around 1500 girls are studying. Those that are in higher vocational courses, migrate outside the village and to attend university or take up employment in cities such as Bangalore (thanks to partner organization NTTF) and other companies, such as HCL.

During this trip I met Shivani (center photo), who spoke with a US accent. Although she comes from an impoverished background, you wold never know. She received her 12th qualification at Pardada Pardadi and became empowered to follow her dreams. Today she is in the US doing Computer Education through the Community College Integration Program (CCIP) in US for rural youths of India.

Can we focus on “Responsible Freedom” and see kids flourish? Irrespective of whether kids are born poor or rich. Shivani is an example of this and now flies to India on her own money, does part time work and maybe one day, will start a career in the US.

Only two girls from rural schools of Uttar Pradesh were selected for the CCIP program and both were from Pardada Pardadi. Sam Singh and Renuka Gupta have worked for two decades with patience and perseverance on girl and women empowerment. As of today around 1500 girls are studying and this figure is likely to double in the future. Leslie Siron (right photo) is a volunteer from the US and is gango about Pardada Pardadi.

Mr Deendayalan,
By:- Friend of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society Date: 11.02.19

Here we are staying in Bichola village in Anupshahr, district Bulandshahr, UP with Virender Singh (Sam). We were invited to experience and observe the unique work he has done during the past 20 years towards the educational, economic and social empowerment of girls and women in Anupshahr. He is a young man of 80 who was well settled in US and now runs a senior secondary school with 1500 students, known by the name Pardada Pardadi and teaches only poorest remote village girls. He provides them free meals, uniforms, cash incentive, bus transport, cycles, advance studies facility, vocational training and jobs. He says by teaching a girl a future family is completely transformed and made self-sufficient.

We also visited one of the remotest villages and interacted with women to get feeling about the women upliftment programmes run by him. It was a great experience for us to get exposure of such unique programmes run by some individual at the age of 80 who is still full of many more dreams.

A Chance Reading About Pardada Pardadi That Changed My Life
By:- Gina Menon, October 2019

I am a primary teacher/teacher trainer from the UK who works half the year in India as a teacher trainer. I came across Pardada Pardadi quite by chance, when reading a book in which the writer mentioned the school.

After looking it up on the internet, I felt a definite interest in seeing and volunteering at PPES. My entire 46-year teaching career has been spent working with deprived children in London, and Pardada Pardadi seemed to be founded on that commitment to do the best for poor children to which I subscribe.

I arrived in Delhi from Bangalore, where my work is based, and spent that evening at the home of Sam Singh, founder of PPES. The following day, we embarked on the long drive to Anupshahr, somewhat hindered by lively Dussehra festivities in progress along the way.

My first morning at the school, I had the full tour of the primary and secondary sections, the medical centre and the I-village where local women (and a few gents) are engaged in textile work of very good quality. I was struck by the positive atmosphere which pervades the school, and the open friendliness of all I met: this included not just teachers, children and admin staff, but also the ayahs and gardeners whose hard work ensures that the campus is fresh, clean and noticeably free of mosquitoes and flies.

The girls’ commitment to making the very best of the wonderful opportunities they have at PPES is consistently in evidence. PPES offers a holistic approach, so not only are pupils taught by teachers who treat them with fairness and respect, and expect them to do well, but their physical, medical and emotional needs are also catered for through the provision of adequate and healthy meals, vaccination programmes, pastoral and health education, as well as free uniforms and books. The children are outgoing, confident, determined girls with high expectations of themselves, who are keen to talk to visitors, have many questions and are a joy to be with.

After discussions with senior administrator Mr. Jose and headteacher K K (Krishana Kumar), I then went off to observe classes. These observations were followed by lively discussions, conducted in a mixture of English and Hindi, in which teachers on free periods often joined. There is a keen desire by PPES teachers to try out new strategies and they are at ease talking about their practice in a group and asking questions about how best to implement ideas.

My afternoons were spent in delivering training in the interactive teaching of English to a group of teachers spanning classes 3 – 10. We covered a range of topics including the practical delivery of the process known as Talk for Writing (T4W), focusing particularly on the development of children’s oral English; aspects of grammar; reading skills; and the delivery of poetry lessons, drawing on texts from Indian textbooks.

Following on from the observations and the training sessions, I also conducted demonstration classes with classes 4 and 10, observed by the teacher and later discussed during the afternoon training sessions.

At present, though I am unable to commit to a long period of volunteering (I was only a bare fortnight at PPES), owing to my previous work commitments, I intend seeing whether I can combine my long-term work with possible regular short slots at PPES. If there’s a teacher of English reading this, who is at a stage where they could commit to a period of volunteering, or even of regular slots, then do consider offering your help. You’ll certainly not regret it, and the children and teachers would be delighted to work with you.

Ashley Burch
By:- Ashley Burch

Mera naam Ashley Burch hai. I have volunteered at the Pardada Pardadi Delhi office for the past 2 months, and it has been an incredible experience. I was placed in the Communications department. I work alongside the wonderful women in this department and help them create marketing materials and complete other tasks. They have taken great care of me! They all welcomed me in and helped teach me how the organisation works. One of the women even helps me order lunch everyday, which is hard for a foreigner like me. This act of kindness showed me how genuinely kind the people are within this organisation.

Although I was based in Delhi, I would occasionally go visit the school that Pardada Pardadi runs in Anupshahr. I would go to hold meetings with teachers and other staff members, take pictures for our marketing materials, and attend important events. School visits were always the highlight of my week. Despite the 3-hour car ride there, going to the school was great. I loved being able to meet and spend time with the girls there. The girls at the school range from Kindergarten to 12th grade, but they are all wonderful. One of the things that I immediately noticed was their positive attitude. All the girls were always smiling and happy to see you.

One time I went and visited a 10th grade class and was so surprised with how eager they were to talk to me. The majority of them spoke a good amount of English. It was so fun to meet them and get to know them better. They even began teaching me how to say things in Hindi, and were kind enough to not make fun of my terrible pronunciation. This is something that I will always remember. Working to break the language barrier and actually getting to know the girls was one of the greatest things about my trips to the school. By meeting the girls and seeing the school, I was motivated to work harder. I could see how my work was benefitting the lives of hundreds of girls. I am proud to say that I worked for Pardada Pardadi and hope to see this organization grow in the future.

PPES: Tapping the Largest Untapped Reservoir of Talent in the World

I have been working at the Delhi office of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society (PPES) for about three weeks now. PPES is a Non-Governmental Organization that focuses on female well-being in Anupshahr, Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India. They work to improve the lives of girls/women in many ways, most prominently through education, health & hygiene awareness, community development, and economic empowerment.

PPES runs four separate schools for girls aged Kindergarten to Grade 12; nearly 1,400 girls attend these schools. They learn everything from Math to English to Human Rights to Computer Literacy. This is very important in an area like Anupshahr where illiteracy is especially prevalent, especially for girls. Unfortunately, girls are not always valued enough by their families to be sent to school. PPES is working to change that paradigm by providing these schools to girls from poor families in Anupshahr. A school like PPES allows these girls to begin to reach their full intellectual potential and their education enables them to provide for themselves personally and professionally. Many girls who attend PPES go on to college or start to work immediately upon graduation — something that would not be possible without the support of their classmates, teachers, and administrators.

In addition to educational support, PPES provides information to the girls about Health & Hygiene. They have the girls shower and brush their teeth daily at school, while providing daily support for health with their full-time nurse and connections to doctors around the area. This is extremely important, as bad health is a severely limiting factor to learning. Beyond these things, PPES also supports community development by helping to organize Self Help Groups (SHGs) for women in the villages of Anupshahr. In these self-organized SHGs women are able to pool their resources to help everyone in the group. This is very important, because without this support women are often left to find loans at banks with exorbitant interest rates. Within their SHGs they can loan to each other at low interest and add the collected interest to the pooled resources of the entire group. PPES also provides information and training to community members about best practices for their cattle. Beyond these initiatives, PPES strives for economic empowerment of girls through optional vocational training after Grade 10, which allows the girls to enter the labor force immediately upon graduation.

I’m predominantly working on administrative tasks at the Delhi office, which is about three hours west of Anupshahr. I’ve done things such as helping to write annual/monthly reports, creating documents, researching grant opportunities, writing drafts for grant applications, and posting to social media. I love this work because it allows me to help the Delhi office with their work, which is integral to the success of PPES. I also had the opportunity to visit the schools last week. It was nice to see the facilities, but it was incredible to see the girls that are benefiting from the work of PPES. They were all smiles throughout the entire time I was there and were happy to be at school. It was amazing how similar they are to girls in the U.S. — they laugh, smile, gossip, and play sports in exactly the same way as girls in the U.S. My main job was to take photographs while at the school, but I took a break to play football (soccer) with the girls during their break time. It was honestly some of the most fun I’ve had in a very long time.

In the next five weeks at PPES I hope to continue to work on many different things in the Delhi office, and I am looking forward to visiting the girls in Anupshahr and playing more football.

A Ray of Hope
By:- Shivani Bajpai

I have heard so much about Pardada Pardadi and I have always wanted to come visit. This trip to India, I was able to see the school with my father and Dadi, and it honestly was the most incredible opportunity.

My ideas about rural villages in India have always been predicated on what I have heard of them from the news, books and general conversations, but I have never had a clear picture in my mind of what they are all about. This time in India I was able to confirm some preconceptions, that they are dirty, dusty and basic; but I was also able to confirm one thought I had, that the school is a source of hope for the community.

I first arrived at the village to meet with the founder, Mr Sam Singh, the most admirable man I have met with regard to social work. His passion and commitment to the school, and his love for the girls were extremely evident from the minute I met him, and our conversations really excited me about my visit ahead to the school. In one chat I learnt that there was a time when he was being sent death threats because of the set-up of the school for girls. This made me suddenly recognize the difficulties and hardships that this school has faced in this community, but it also demonstrated why he is so committed to the cause. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr Singh for letting me stay with him and having the most humbling experience of my life.

My visit started with a quick trip to the Ganga River, where we went through one of the villages. The images that you have in your mind, thinking you know what to expect have no comparison with the vivid picture of reality that looks you right in the eye. I now sincerely believe that it is only by coming to these villages that a real sense of the deprivation and destitution can be understood. As we walked to the River, I suddenly felt so distant from the people around me with whom I share a country with. A non-tangible border between myself and these people was poignantly felt; I use ‘border’ instead of ‘barrier’ as I believe the former more accurately represents this distance, encompassing how difficult it is for either party to cross into the other’s ‘world’.

The following day I visited Pardada Pardadi, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a place with more happiness and feelings of hope. The moment I stepped out of the car I felt fully immersed within the spirit of optimism that engenders this community, and as I was greeted with a ‘welcoming ceremony’ I saw the girls’ glowing faces, full of smiles and cheerfulness. Throughout my time here, through all the warm faces that welcomed me, I had to keep a reality check of where these girls come from. School is not a guarantee for these girls, planning for their future is an unimaginable prospect for these girls; when they return home, their immediate priority is their next meal. Though I met these girls and felt a connection, our lives differ from a foundational level. I can think of what my future will hold, I have the luxury to debate and decide where my university education will take me, I can think of much more than the basic necessities; but these girls face the question of their livelihood everyday.

After arriving, I first spoke with the Principal, Administrator and Teaching coordinator about how the school is run. There was such dedication amidst these top staff members and I got the real sense of progress of the school and how much success this school has achieved so far. I learnt about different areas of PPES, such as the textile industry, where the mothers of girls can gain employment. PPES enables the women of these families to avoid child marriages, it teaches them about financial independence and its importance, allowing them to not depend solely on the men in their household. By educating the daughter, you give her mother the chance to work; a truly communitarian society where everyone benefits.

Though I spent most of my time teaching in the English lab where the girls have lessons in English communication, I also took a sports lesson for an 8th grade class. Despite the burning sun beating down on us and the high levels of humidity, we played various games, ending in a game of ‘It’. By the end, we were all exhausted, but not once did a smile leave their faces.

In the English lab I met two girls Rehka and Kalash, who are 19, the same age as me. We spoke at length about one another, and I learnt how Kalash is a PPES graduate and Rehka is from their sister school, Jattari Aligarh, but both are preparing for the CCIP scholarship (Committee Cause Initiative Programme which sends students to the USA) at PPES. Our conversations were fascinating; and it was so easy to chat to them both, I also helped Rehka with some interview preparation for the scholarship. I was highly impressed at how proficient she is at English and her answers to my questions were filled with true passion, a desire to learn, both academically but also about the American culture, I really understood how much she wants to be awarded the scholarship. One answer particularly stood out for me, her response to my question of: ‘What would you say/what advice would you give to your younger self?’. Her response was to have started studying English sooner, even before coming to school, and to work hard at English. This reply showcased the self-motivation and dedication that these girls have, despite their circumstances they emphasise the importance of individual hard work. Rehka’s perseverance can be seen as a microcosm of the school’s ethos as a whole and it was such an honour meeting her and Kalash and speaking with them. I wish both of them all the best with their applications and I hope we can all meet again.

Towards the end of my visit, I spoke with Mr Prashant, the main English lab teacher. He poignantly stated the truth of the situation and how much more needs to be done for these girls. From little things such as spare pieces of paper to write/draw on, to much larger needs such as more scholarship programmes and opportunities, Prashant explained at length the school’s current condition. He showed me, and I could see, how far there is to go, but I could not help but think of the positivity and vision of hope that the girls showed me.

I had the most eye-opening and inspiring visit to Pardada Pardadi and it has motivated me to become more involved in some way. While there, I saw a beauty within the school, its determination to change the lives of many of the world’s poorest girls; but behind all the laughter and happiness, there exists a deeper reality- that these girls face potential threats to their lives for simply attending school.

But, through PPES and its commitment to the girls, I can see the scale of change it has done for and continues to do for the girls and the community, and truly be a ray of hope.

Kerrigan Fitzpatrick
By:- Kerrigan Fitzpatrick

I am truly grateful for my experience at Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. As my second internship ever and first in an office setting, I learned a great amount. Grants and other ways of fundraising were never familiar to me before joining this project. But, during my time here, I was introduced to many different concepts (registering for accreditation, updating social media, fundraising and revising documents) that are used in maintaining an NGO. My acquired knowledge and skills from my experience will be carried with me throughout my lifetime.

Like skills and knowledge, relationships were also developed. I know that the relations I built with others in the office will last well beyond my physical time here. Because of social media, I will be able to keep in contact with the amazing people whom I work alongside, and have been lucky enough to get to know. Each one of us brought something very unique to our office and contributed in our own special ways, volunteers and employees alike. From diverse viewpoints and backgrounds shared with me, my own horizons were broadened.

Pardada Pardadi Educational Society challenged me and changed me in so many positive ways. Although I confronted situations in which my work was unfamiliar and I had no experience, I felt that I was guided and supported in ways that allowed me to complete my projects successfully. Also, I worked with people from various places which contributed to some of my understanding of the world. From here, I plan to have more similar internships and eventually professional jobs. I strongly believe that Pardada Pardadi has aided in developing many great qualities within me that will prepare me to both pursue these plans and succeed in them.