The Months That Went By
The months of May and June were not just about braving the soaring summer heat for PPES. Amidst the temperatures that went notching up to +110 F, the pre-schoolers bathed and water played in the shower jets that have been put up at the school; a triathlon event in London donned running shoes for PPES, and the state results for grades 10 and 12 came out. Yes! All that euphoria in the two months.
Up Above The World So High
Every year, there is palpable anxiety that builds up starting March and it all comes rolling down in June. Yes, there is constant buzz surrounding the declaration of results for state board exams for grades 10 and 12 around that time. The bonhomie of the day the results for the grades were declared escalated to an all-time new record. Out of eleven PPES girls in grade 12, ten graduated with first class distinction (60 % grade and above). To add on to the excitement, forty three girls graduated grade 10 with the highest scorer securing 72% marks.
The next course of action has been decided. Out of 11 girls that graduated grade 12, five have been offered admission into computer engineering at NTTF in Bangalore, two are training to be a nurse, and one is pursuing undergrad at Rai Univesity in Rajasthan. These days the girls are busy prepping themselves up for being leaders in their lives.
Cooling off In The Summers
To elaborate the "joy of playing", PPES put up twenty two shower jets at the school for the primary grade students on May 1. Most students at primary school come in from Madargate: A community comprising families rated among the lowest in the caste and socioeconomic hierarchy. The concept of a 'school' is so farfetched in the area that mothers are not habitual of sending their girls off to one. It is not rare then to see kids coming in to school without a bath or their hair neatly combed.
The idea of having shower jets not only came up as a cleaning and hygiene initiative but also an activity that the kids would enjoy to the fullest. The kids are regularly bathed with shampoo (no more tears for the pre-schoolers!) and soap.
First Brick Laying Ceremony
Third month into ASED sponsored project 'Infrastructure Development at Pardada Pardadi Girls Vocational School', the ground breaking action continues. Literally so as the brick laying ceremony on June 18 inaugurated the ground location for constructing the new school building. Representing a secular ceremony, two religious leaders one each representing Hinduism and Islam were called in to perform the ritual rites. This was a symbolic reference to a school that would have students on the same ground irrespective of religious and caste discrimination. The prayer ceremony invoking the almighty was attended in full swing by the PPES students. It made for an exciting day as the students revelled in the celebrations for the new school building.
The construction of the English Lab is in full swing too. Once ready, the lab would be a friendly and easily adaptable learning space for students in grades 6 to12 complete with computers, software for English language, and projector, just to name a few resources. The drive behind training the PPES girls in fluent English is to guarantee them jobs that are at par with the current job marketing trend.
Note: The photo credit for this picture goes to Ms Mieko Yoshida
Partners and Friends
All Over A Cuppa
PPES' long-time partner friend 'iPartner India' organized a High Tea event on May 17 at The Park Hotel, New Delhi.
Hosted by businessman and philanthropist Mr Sethu Vaidyanathan, the event led the spark on initiating social change over a cup of tea. It showcased two success stories one each of Azad Foundation and PPES. The stage was set for sharing each other's stories on bringing about, sustaining, and expanding the social development change and learning from experiences. Whereas PPES empowers rural girls and women, the Azad foundation trains underprivileged women into becoming professional drivers.
The event aimed at creating awareness on challenges faced by poor women and young girls across the country and raising their curiosity for organizations that have come up with local but effective solutions
A Date With Hayat Communications
Beena and Krishna are among ten PPES students being sponsored by Hayat Communications. Geeta Kapoor, the wife of Hayat's MD Mahinder Kapoor has been a loyal supporter of PPES marketing. Since she introduced the school to her husband in 2008 there has been no looking back for Hayat and PPES partnership. From gifting PPES one of its first school buses to now lighting up the homes of hundred families under PPES' Green Initiative project, Hayat Communications support to PPES has been tremendous.
On 9 June, Beena and Krishna were invited to the Hayat office in Gurgaon. Tagging along were Sam Singh and Kusum, a PPES graduate. It was also the day Beena and Krishna made their first PPT presentation to the Hayat team. Other first time amazements for the girls were eating a pizza and a chocolate truffle cake. Also, Sam admitted nobody had presented him a bouquet of red roses but Hayat that day. At the age of 70+ that was quite a revelation. It was an out and out fun and exciting day for the PPES girls.
Run Andrew Run
As MD of Xerox India, Mr Andrew Horne, brought some of the most innovative support to PPES. Whether it was organizing a fundraising dinner or having the PPES girls being spectators of the Common Wealth Games, every thought of Mr Horne's reflected his out and out love for the girls. When he shifted work base to the UK, he came up with a task to support PPES that needed grit, energy.. and a pair of running shoes! Over to Mr. Horne:
"Friends of PPES will be only too aware of the challenges we face to win financial donations: well let's use plain English: what do we have to do to get people to contribute towards meeting the needs of the poorest of poor ? In the UK it is common for people to ask friends and acquaintances to sponsor them while they put themselves through some form of physical challenge. So I thought let me reenergize my support to PPES by participating in a fast growing, and very challenging sport: Triathlon (Swim 750 mts in open water (a lake), ride a bike 22 km and then run 5.4 km). In February I signed up to compete in one of the largest Triathlon events in the UK that attracts around 4,500 competitors, many of whom are seeking sponsorship for their favourite charitable cause.
The reenergizing bit was to be more literal as at the age of 52, I was to attempt a Triathlon for the first time in my life: I thought my friends would be encouraged to support PPES out of sympathy for my madness! It seems to have worked quite well, as we have received pledges for approximately $1000 and only counting more. Modest, but a good start to providing support from a distant Land. The big day arrived on 5th June and having watched the others swim the lake it seemed a very long way! 1 hour and 36 minutes later, I staggered over the line: a massive sense of relief, and hope that I have managed to support the wonderful organisation that is PPES! Now I am up for the next challenge!"
PPES thanks its friends (new and old) who supported Andrew's run and donated generously to the PPES cause.
A Five Decade India Connect
Having sojourned the country as a former Peace Corps volunteer and later as a journalist, Mary Anne Sennett saw "India calling" her again when she took up the challenge of setting up an English laboratory at PPES. The lab is the force behind opening up enterprising employment opportunities for the girls that pay them higher dividends and thereby raise the per capita income. The story of how it all began from her:
If the definition of a "home" is "The place you keep coming back to, the place you go where the people are always willing and happy to take you in, then India must be my second home. My Indian adoption began during that first year in the late 60s when I came to India with the Peace Corps, serving in that small village of Shrinigar in Rajasthan. The end of my two-year service period found me staying on for an additional year, and somewhere between that time and a husband and son later, I discovered I could not manage life without returning to India. When it was not my work as a journalist, I kept coming back as a tourist as I could not stop myself from being amused by the country and its people. Finally, in 2008, my opportunity came to truly return to India through PPES.
It was during that time the idea for an English Language Center and Lab was born. On my visit in May 2011, the idea has been given a structural form. Space to house the Center/Lab has been provided, course books and software are being purchased for learning and instruction, and the English Language Lab has six new computers! I would continue to assist with materials development and teacher training by keeping visiting PPES. Yes, I have never really left India.
We are going to miss the presence of Mr Robert Ritchie in our lives. Robert left us on July 8, 2011 while fighting stoically against ill health.. Born an Australian, Robert had a strong connection with India and PPES in specific. His love expanded to the Indian culture, language, and its beautiful landscapes like the indomitable Himalayas, to name a few. So much so that he was renowned for making Indian sweets styled perfectly Indian in taste. It was Robert's unconditional love that supported PPES to bring light to the dreams of the PPES girls. Our girls had a true guardian in Robert. We believe that his soul will stay by our sides and guide us throughout.
It is unsettling to see how life shocks us by taking away the friends that mean a lot to us. Robert remains intact in our memories and we believe that his spirit would keep blessing us. It is hard to let go of an amazing friend and human being in Robert. We are aware that his humility and kindness will stay with us in our vision and work. We pray to the lord to offer strength to his family and friends to bear his loss. PPES requests its friends to take a minute and pray for Robert's soul to rest in peace.
Krishna Says Hi
Krishna faintly remembers walking down to school as a young girl barely eight years old. Well, it is hard for her to tell how old she was when she joined PPES in grade 3 as she has never celebrated her birthday and is oblivious of the day and month it falls on the calendar. Today, she is a teenager studying in grade 11. She has been gifted a bicycle and toilet for her near perfect attendance in class. The homes in village Malakpur where Krishna lives have no private toilets. Besides her parents and five siblings, her buffalo gives her constant company at home.
When she graduates high school in two years, Krishna wants to train for becoming a teacher. At the school, the bakery and computer lab are her favourite spots. She can not only paint on a computer but also write on it. She does not have a TV or radio at her home. It is hard for her to sing her favourite song as she hardly listens to any. The last movie that she remembers watching was 'Harry Potter' at the PPES library. She does not miss having a TV at home anymore. Besides watching TV, she also enjoys reading books in the library. Krishna's family has a yellow coloured ration card. That means, her family is labelled below poverty line. Today, Krishna's parents see the worth of education and regrets marrying their older daughter at a young age. Krishna does not want to meet the same fate as her sister's and wants to study further. She is a bright student who always ranks among toppers in her class.
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