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About the NGO
Pardada Pardadi Educational Society
The ‘utopian future’ popularly associated with the year 2000 was clearly far removed from the ground reality in founder Virendra Singh’s ancestral village.
So Sam, as he is known, set up a school for girls in a small building in Bichaula in the Anupshahr tehsil of Uttar Pradesh, where 85 per cent of girls didn’t have access to even primary education.
But the going wasn’t easy. After visiting thousands of homes he managed to persuade the enrolment of just 45 girls in the Pardada Pardadi school. And by the end of the first year only 13 remained – the rest dropped out.
This despite a “package” PPES has devised to try and keep the girls in class – Rs 10 is deposited in the girl’s bank account for every day she is in school. CEO Renuka Gupta says: “Some may call it a bribe but it is an incentive for a mother to send her daughter to school.”
Besides, the money accrues interest in a fixed deposit which the girl can use after her education to start a business, for further studies or to secure her financial independence after marriage.
PPES provide everything a girl needs to attend school – and keep her there – including uniforms, books, meals and healthcare. As Rani, 10, says: "My favourite part of the day is bathing time. The shampoo makes me feel like a movie-star."
Take Kavita Kumari, who came to PPES as a teenager at a time when her father was unemployed after an accident and her polio-stricken mother found daily chores difficult. Plus they had a mounting debt of Rs 40,000 to their landlord. PPES responded by taking total care of Kavita, who currently works at the school’s marketing office in Meerut.
Sam says: “The objective of the school is to transform the quality of life for the entire family."
Now nearly 1,400 girls from 65 villages are at the school; 3,300 women from as many villages are part of micro-lending self help groups; 1,500 villagers benefit from solar lanterns and community hygiene initiatives and health camps have treated 4,000.
What began in 2000 as a school is today a large community that extends beyond the school walls. But, as Sam says: “I'm in a district where 40,000 families are below the poverty line. I'd promised myself I would educate at least one daughter from each of those families. I have a long way to go."