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Volunteer Profiles

Hereare the profiles of some of our volunteers who have agreed to share their experience on our website.

Mary and Mike, and US donors, are committed to providing the girls with medical care.

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Contact Mary and Mike:

Michel K’nees (USA)

November 2011 – May 2012

“I graduated from University in May 2011 with two health degrees, and have worked extensively in various medical fields. I found out about PPES through one of my bosses, who worked with Sam, the school’s founder, while in India.

While here, I worked with and mentored the school’s nurse in order to set up basic medical tracking systems, establish hygienic and basic first aid treatments, and create a general awareness of school and community health issues. I also designed an adolescent growth and develop curriculum, which focuses on bringing an understanding of women’s development and health issues to an area where female reproductive health is still a taboo subject. Finally, I created health and hygiene lesson plans. The school will now take several weeks out of each year to teach the students about disease transmission, basic first aid, water-borne illnesses and water sanitation, domestic and personal hygiene, and nutrition. The lesson plans were designed to allow the older girls to teach the younger girls in an interactive and play-based manner, which will hopefully allow the older girls to gain leadership abilities and increase the overall sense of cohesiveness within the school.

Working with PPES was a life changing experience; it’s not an exaggeration to say that I gained more life perspective in my six months here than in my previous 22 years of life. Working with the girls is incredibly rewarding, and makes even the difficult days worth it. PPES helped me realize that I do want to pursue a medical career, and hopefully I will be able to return to the school in the future as a doctor.”



Mike Mays and Mary Cairns (USA)

Fall 2010 & fall 2012

Mary Cairns and Mike Mays visited PPES for the first time in October, 2010. While at the school, they started a hygiene program, to include tooth brushing and hand washing with soap. Since that time, all students have been brushing their teeth daily at school, as well as washing their hands during the school day. Mike worked in the computer room, taught students as well as teachers computer classes (keyboarding, Microsoft Office, as well as the internet). Mary and Mike taught English classes. Mary enjoyed reading and doing artwork with the Prep School, and worked with teachers displaying artwork in the classrooms.

In October, 2012 Mary and Mike returned to improve the school’s Health Center. Through donations received in the US, a beautiful new Health Center was built to include a waiting room, exam area, sick room, and bathroom. They brought 150 pounds of donated medical supplies with them to the school. A fulltime nurse, who was working at a Delhi hospital, was hired and will begin working at the school in January, 2013. A team of doctors, to include a pediatrician, gynecologist and a dentist, visited the school in November to vaccinate students for Hepatitis B and measles. These Bulandshahar doctors have agreed to return to Pardada Pardadi School on a monthly basis to continue providing girls with health care and vaccinations.


Lindsay Johnson (USA)

January 2009 - December 2009

“I found the school online when I was looking for a place to volunteer. I wanted to come to India and this school looked like a wonderful place to work. I liked that it was in a rural area, and was dedicated to helping girls. While here, I have taught small English classes to girls in 8th and 9th class. I have also held English lessons with some teachers and faculty. For a couple months, I worked with a group of 7 girls in a drama class, and they created three short plays. Two were performed in a village and one was performed in Delhi. I have organized the books into categories and started the library running. I created a checkout system on the computer. An ongoing project has been the creation of profiles for each student; this is something I am still working on. In addition to this, I am transferring exam and attendance records to the computer. My favorite thing has been teaching girls in 9B - they are a small class of 5 girls and are all extremely smart and eager to learn. I also love visiting my girls at home in their villages - getting to see them with their families and in an environment outside of school.”

Website about PPES:

Contact Lindsay:


Pranav Chandra (India)

Spring 2009

“During my time at the school, I noticed that while PPES students’ writing and reading skills were good, most girls were not comfortable speaking the language. So I attempted to make them more accustomed to using the language through exercises, word games, skits, songs etc. I also got about 35 copies of this Rapidex English book for the classes, which were a big hit among the students.  In terms of specific curriculum, I focused on using situations/vocabulary building.  We had specific classes on other practical matters like how a bank works or how a post office works. We also had a bank visit for some of the girls in higher classes where they learnt about how they would deposit/withdraw money, or write checks, etc.  With the my older students girls I helped them to learn more about Microsoft excel, word and power point, and increased their knowledge of the Internet.  All the class girls opened email accounts and learned how to use email.  (I responded to about 35 emails that week!

It was a revelation hearing the girls' stories regarding their background and upbringing. Some of these girls are from broken or very poor homes, having alcoholic fathers or where their parents have been killed in property disputes. The fact that they have the avenue to come to this school, as well as that they can excel here and have such fantastic attitudes to their studies and activities was amazing!  When I look at some of the (slightly scruffy) girls in class 5 as they come into the main school, compared to the class 8-10 who have grown immensely during their short time at the school,  to me it really displays what a transformational role the school is playing in their lives. To go to their home and see their houses and families (where they would otherwise be farming or helping raising children) and then at the school to see their progress, their level of knowledge, enthusiasm and future prospects is inspiring.”



Medical Volunteers

Paul Brakeman and Jen Brakeman (USA)

Summer 2009

“I am a science teacher and my husband is a doctor. We became interested in volunteering at Pardada Pardadi after the head of my school Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA visited India and developed a relationship with Sam Singh. Since then, four of our high school students visited PPES and several Pardada Pardadi students have visited our school in California. I was interested in traveling to PPES and working with the PPES 10th graders on some focused science education in a setting that would be different from their formal classes. My husband and I traveled to India in the summer of 2009. We brought various supplies that we donated to the school such as books, paper, rulers, pencils, library stamps, markers, and the science kits. During our time there, my husband gave cursory medical exams and taught about health education. I watched several classes each day, and then met with three groups of about 10 girls. My original goal was to work with the 10 girls to design an experiment to test something that captured their curiosity. Because I brought several science kits, we used the materials from those kits to explore the world and learn about science. Although we ended up not fully completing our experiment to test the effect of exercise on heart rate, we did explore the physical world of light and magnets, read some kid science books in English, and had a lot of fun! Naturally, I supported PPES by buying a whole bunch of beautiful products that the girls made! As with most volunteer experiences, I feel that perhaps I got more out of my time with the girls than they did with me. I would love to hear about any memories that the girls have of my visit, - when my husband and I have time to come back and volunteer again!”


Mayank Agrawal (India)

Winter 2009

“I was introduced to PPES by my father, who shared an article with me about Pardada Pardadi Girls Vocational School in Anupshahar in a national newspaper. Sam Singh's efforts and his approach to bring about women empowerment truly inspired me. I wrote to him looking for opportunities to volunteer. PPES immediately responded suggesting various projects that I could help with including the marketing and growth needs of the school. I spent six weeks with PPES, helping the organization by recommending strategies to improve marketing, and help with growth and expansion of PPES. I also had the wonderful opportunity to interact with the schoolchildren, offer a lecture in Geography and Unites States to Class X girls, and play Pictionary with Class XIII girls in the newly established library. Currently, I work as a management consultant in Boston. I am volunteering to start the first U.S. based chapter for PPES in Boston. This chapter will help increase awareness of PPES in the U.S., raise funds for PPES from U.S. based supporters and staff internships and volunteer opportunities at PPES with local residents and professionals.”

Contact Mayank:


Business Volunteers

Jenny & Dave (USA)

Spring 2008 - present

Jenny and Dave were living in Delhi when invited by Pardada Pardadi to visit the school and learn about the charity. It was a life-changing experience for them, and they jumped at the opportunity to hold an online fundraiser to build toilets in the homes of PPES students. Because the fundraiser was so successful, they organized another fundraiser called Rags to Pads. Finally, Jenny became a fulltime employee in the Delhi office to help with their online communications. They have since left Delhi, but continue to help PPES with their ongoing dedication. Jenny helps to maintain the PPES website and assists and promotes Pardada Pardadi using social media (Facebook and Twitter). Likewise, she helps PPES Delhi staff with utilizing the Internet for online fundraising. Dave also contributes by maintining and updating the websites (Rags to Pads and Additionally, they donate server space to host these sites.


Jacobi Wade (USA)

Summer 2008

Jacobi served PPES for six weeks in which time she set up and organized a library. Now PPES students can check out books to take home! Basic Hindi books are very popular, as well as Dr. Seuss books because they use very simple words that are great for our young learners. The fun illustrations of the English children books help PPES students to understand the meaning of the words.

The library is an ongoing project and more books (in Hindi and English) are always appreciated! If you would be able or willing to donate books, please contact Wendi at




Special Project Volunteers

Rikki Asher (USA)

2007, 2008

“During my sabbatical leave from college teaching, I wanted to visit a school in rural India. PPVS provided the set and setting to carry out a Bookmaking Project, in February of 2007, and a Peace Quilt Project, in February of 2008. Children on two sides of the world--the Bronx, New York, and Anupshahar, India--took on a challenge of creating a quilt that communicated aspects of their lives to each other.

Eighteen 8th graders created quilt squares that represented a personal peace story and learned about another culture through the exchange. Through this project, these students became aware of aspects of their environment and themselves that they had not consciously experienced before. A Bronx student comments: Village life in India is very different than life here. . . I see how the Indian students showed their views on life. I worked hard to show the Hip Hop group. I hope they enjoy our quilt.

This project gave both groups a chance to learn more about an area where they lived in new ways. Through the project, students tapped into their imagination and learned that their environment holds significant messages for them. Now the quilts that were created by Rikkis students hang for display in the entry hall to PPES. The lovely works of children's art brighten up the hallway and providing smiles to all the students who feel excited to have participated in such a fun project!”



Teaching / TEFL Volunteers

Isabel Bedford (UK)

Spring - Summer 2007

“After graduating in summer 2006 from Manchester University, UK, I did a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) course with desire to spend some time working as a volunteer teacher abroad.  I found out about PPES from the website and was immediately interested in the school's philosophy and aims. I worked as a volunteer teacher, mainly teaching English to older girls in small groups and focused primarily on improving their speaking/communication skills. In addition, I assisted the other teachers at the school and helped put together a Computer Studies syllabus.

One of my other major tasks was creating personal profiles for all of the girls at the school. This was an extensive project that involved speaking to each student individually to find out about her family background (income, number of brothers and sisters, family issues etc.), daily life (jobs at home, progress in her studies etc.) and her ambitions for the future. I also visited each of the girls' homes and took photos of them with their families. I used all the information to create a computer profile for each girl.  Another of my projects was working with a small group of girls to create a play promoting the school and illustrating the positive impact of Pardada Pardadi's work on the community. The play was then performed by the girls in several villages in the Anupshahar area. My experience as a volunteer was intense and full of challenges, but full of unique and wonderful moments. I was proud to forge close relationships with the girls and teachers despite language and cultural barriers.”


Agnes Rec (USA)

Summer 2007

“I found Pardada Pardadi by chance. My university organized some volunteer opportunities in India; interested in women's education, I applied to PPES. I originally planned to work for PPES from Delhi to increase the organization's internet presence, among other projects. During my first week in India, I visited the school in Anupshahar and was quickly won over by the students. Rather than remain in Delhi, I moved to Anupshahar where I taught English and computer classes. With Izzy, another volunteer, I developed a syllabus for the computer classes that focused on hands-on learning rather than rote memorization. Back in Delhi at the end of my time in India, I created the PPES blog - and maintained it for a while once I left India.

At PPES I got to know a few of the students more closely. In particular, I worked with Rupvati, then in 10th grade, to help her improve her English. Though she sometimes struggled with the language, every time Rupvati met with me she brought a sunny demeanor and a determination that made her a pleasure to teach. Towards the end of my time in Anupshahar, I got to meet to Rupvati's family at their home in Parlay. It was an amazing experience to get to know the students as well as their families.”


Wendi Boxx (USA)

Volunteer Program Coordinator 2006 - present

“When I arrived in 2006 at PPES as a volunteer, my work was practically impossible due to the lack of English at the school. After starting my own English class with teachers and older students, I proposed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program. Drawing on my experience as a US Peace Corps TEFL volunteer (Romania 2000 - 2003) I set about making PPES' volunteer program. I understood the potential grassroots networking that such a program could produce. It was my hope that through establishing a volunteer program PPES could grow, as could its role in stopping the exploitation of rural girl children.

Several years later, our PPES volunteers have accomplished so much more than just teaching English. They created a student register to track academic and vocational progress, established a school library, constructed lesson plans and teaching materials, and perhaps most importantly, firmly established an English curriculum. Volunteers have helped PPES with grassroots fundraising that has made it possible to enroll more girls to the school. Moreover, volunteers have instituted teacher training workshops that convinced PPES the importance of investing in teachers as much as students. Likewise, volunteers have helped teachers as well as students to see themselves as a part of the PPES mission. In autumn 2009, we added a full-time English-Hindi teacher. PPES, impressed with the progress of its students, is now determined to become an English-Medium-School!

In 2009, convinced of the results of the volunteer program, we expanded our volunteer program to include professional volunteers. We now offer local intern positions in marketing, finance, and production planning. Moreover, we hope to continue expanding. It is my hope that more doctors, lawyers, and other business professionals will be interested in completing small projects such as providing medical checkups for the girls, legal counsel or business expertise.

Empowering local communities makes a tremendous impact in stopping exploitation of its most vulnerable members. Volunteer programs are an important part of the necessary skill-transfer for NGOs to grow and to increase the cross-cultural understanding that leads to international friendships. I hope you will join us!"