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.

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