Pardada Pardadi Educational Society

Focus: Education, Girl Child, Health, Livelihoods, Rural Development, Women

WHEN mothers in a tiny north Indian village were asked how many children they had, daughters were never included in the count – till PPES stepped in to change that mindset.

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."

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CURRENT PROJECTS
Solar Lantern Project

VILLAGES of Anupshahr normally plunge into darkness after sundown as most households either don’t have access to electricity or are too poor to afford it. Kerosene lamps or candles provide dim light for studying and are fire hazards. Now PPES have given 160 free solar lanterns that can be charged for Rs 2 per day at a central location for family members to take home every evening. The use of these lanterns have increased household savings by Rs 150 per month and made the community safer.

Health Initiatives

PPES believe without access to good healthcare, just an education won’t make a big difference to communities. Committed to creating a supportive rural environment, they organise various health initiatives that provide medical care to villages in Anupshahr at highly subsidized rates – and to their students for free. These include building latrines in over 90 houses and Community Hygiene Complexes – bath and toilet facilities – serving over 1,000 people, and health and eye check-up camps.

Micro Enterprises

PPES’s various employment generation activities help women and girls from remote villages in the district sustain themselves and their families with dignity. The incense-stick-making unit, for example, helps more than 30 unskilled women and girls earn up to Rs 3,000 every month, making them the highest earners in their respective families. This rise in the status of the village women garners value and respect from the community and empowers them to be key decision-makers.

About Pardada Pardadi Educational Society
Testimonials

I am the first woman to open a shop in my village. It feels great to be able to provide another source of income for my children.

Ramvati, Lacchampur village, Western U.P.

I decided to make myself educated because education is the only tool which gave me a power to make myself a gift in place of a burden.

Shivani, Anupshahr, U.P.

The problems that Pardada Pardadi is working to overcome are deeply rooted in a long history. However, thousands of years of culture can be changed for the better.

Lena Wiley, volunteer from Mount Madonna School, USA

I am an admirer of Sam, the entire team at PPES and the students at PPES. I have always seen stars glint in their eyes and observed them displaying total confidence in what they learn!

V. S. Ramana, Larsen and Toubro, Chennai

THE TEAM
  • Renuka Gupta CEO
  • Shajan Jose Administrative Head
  • Ravinder Chauhan Accounts Manager
  • Shruti Choudhary Communications & Fundraising