Here in Bihar, summers here with our schools only open in the early morning as temperatures are reaching 111F by mid afternoon.
As part of the TOP programme here is a letter written by a girl on our community education programme. Each place costs only $25 a month for school fees, support services and books. We have changed the name only, the letter is unedited, but translated from Hindi.
Hello Global Giving Supporters,
Respected greetings to you from my village school in Dhobi, Bihar, India
I don't like Sundays.
Because there is no School.
Sometimes it's very difficult for girls to get education here in the villages of India. Many get married.
I told my parents I would run away if they tried to marry me before I got a basic and decent education. And yes I want to work, even after I am married. I want to be free and independent . I cannot do any of this without and education but I am poor. Here at the school, they teach us a song called let me go and learn, it is a song we sing to our parents. It says I will do my chores, I will help in the house, but let me study.
I want you know that I cannot do this alone, if it were not for the support of the girls community education programme, part of the TOP scheme ( the opportunities programme ) . It is not just the financial help I get, it is the support offered to me and the counseling of my parents that makes all the difference .
Please support this appeal so People First can help more girls like me.
from Diya class 8 Dhobi village school( age 14)
Thank you all once again,
Its update time again and I thought I would ask a girl student at one of our village schools to tell us about her experiences. The students name is Ruby ( we have actually changed the name for privacy reasons), but the words are entirely her own.
"I am 14 years old and I live in Dhobi a small village in south Bihar India. I am the only girl in a family of four children, and my father is a farmer. I want everyone to know if were not for the girls community education scheme run by People First I would not be at school today. I study in class 7. The programme supports girls who wish to study by providing free education on the condition the parents sign a bond undertaking not to marry them or disturb their education in anyway . Because of this I am the first girl to be educated in my family.
As part of the community awareness programme encouraging girls to become educated recently with our parents we watched a video of a girl from the Yemen who had run away from forced marriage . We applauded her courage!
Sadly this is a problem here too, that is why we need this programme so much. It is so important. It is our lives.
Thank you for all your help"
By helping this programme you can directly reach out to girls like Ruby. One students education in this programme (in full time day school) costs only $190 per year.
In our area of work one in two women cannot read or write.
We send our heartfelt appreciation to all of you,
This is Naresh the education director of People First Educational Charitable Trust (PFECT) with our update. Firstly may I wish you all the very best for the festive season and I hope everything is well with you. .
As you all know the TOP The Opportunities Programme is a wide ranging scheme and we give our solemn undertaking that single cent or penny which we receive from global giving from this appeal which goes to support this programme will go towards the children's education. Children like our youngest student, surrender ( aged about 9) who was interviewed by his teachers about being a TOP student.
I promised in the last report a report from a student and here it is below,
Firstly I want to say I understand that other people many kilometers away are helping children like me , so I am very happy to tell you about myself . It is my wish to do so. My name is Surrender . I am from a village about 30km from Bodhgaya.
I do not know my exact age.
But my mother told me I was born on a night without the moon. There is no electricity in my village, nor a school so I spent the days playing and looking after our goats. Then my father died. I don't know why. He was sick, and then he was gone. My mother could no longer care for me and I was sent to live with an uncle who was unkind to me. But then in the village I sometimes went (if my uncle allowed) to a People First School in the village.
Then I think six months (I do not really know) before someone came from Bodhgaya and they talked a lot with my teachers before they asked me, Do you want to come to Bodhgaya to study?,- you can choose a school. I went the next day with my teacher. Now I am so happy. I now stay with my mother on my holidays and the staff here told me my Uncle was no longer permitted to see me because a judge has given order. I feel a very fear gone from me. I have just got a new sweater and scarf and shoes and I am loving the study.
Thank You for helping me and other children like me
This report was compiled using some written input and an Interview with Surrender.
As always thanks for your support.
It costs $850.00 a year for Surrenders full time residential education, or $70 ( or 50GBP a month)
With compliments of the season,
Hello to all our supporters from Bihar India!!
The above quotation , our project report title, is only a part quotation . The full quote is.... live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever. Who said it? Mahatma Ghandi.
I was very interested to read an article from Peter Buffet, (yes that's Warren's son) on the whole nature of giving. You may be aware of it: I think it was published in the New York Times, it sparked controversy and much discussion . When your last name is Buffett, two things are guaranteed: You're going to get attention, and you're going to have your share of both passionate supporters and virulent critics.Peter Buffett proved the rule with his recent op-ed in The New York Times headlined" The Charitable-Industrial Complex.
"It is not our intention to analyze the nature of giving in a project progress report except to say this. Peter Buffet's education was provided and paid for, and what better start in life can you give any person but a good education? It is naive to expect that charitable giving alone will change the world by itself, there are many other factors political, economic and cultural to name but three which all play a part in improving quality of lives, particularly in areas of the world where a good education is not available to the majority of the poor. But it is amazing how much good, real actual good that can be achieved through thoughtful giving that actually reaches the poor, and is unencumbered by huge salaries or luxury offices or costly infrastructures. One of the great things about Global Giving is that it offers a real choice to actually reach out and really make a difference in targeted giving that does have a positive outcome.
Like so many organizations on Global Giving we are not supported by the likes of Gates of Buffet or any other large scale donor. We do an enormous amount of work with very limited resources. It's because we are small and local that we are effective. Mr Buffet, you need to rethink your giving strategy.
But enough! Let's talk about our work. As you know this appeal supports the TOP ( The Opportunities Programme) which sponsors the education of street children, academically gifted students from our village education programme, girls in the local community from below the poverty line, and exceptionally gifted students through university degrees and or professional qualifications . But how many students does the programme reach?I will tell you. From our records since 2007 (when we first were able to keep detailed records) over 600 girls have received community based private day school education, 15 children from our Rescue Junction centre have received vocational training, 50 students have received a full time residential education in a private hostel of their choice funded by the programme, 12 students have completed a college education, and 500 children have received computer vocational training. In the general scheme of the world, these numbers may not be so big, we are of course limited by the funds we have. But for the children and young people involved you have helped change their whole world, and through their education the future outlook of whole families, affecting many more than the headline figures.
Please help us reach out to more students.
This appeal is simple and direct, it changes lives through educational opportunity given to those who would not otherwise have any access to the better future that an education will give them.
And in the next report you will hear from one of them!
I am Naresh Sir and I am Director of Education here at People First. I hope you are are all well. Here in Bihar we are waiting for the monsoon to arrive, actually praying for the monsoon to arrive!
As you know the TOP scheme is all about Opportunity. In fact People First's mission statement says just this, "The giving of Opportunity to those to whom it has denied either to poverty oppression or family circumstances".
As you know we help many girls under the TOP scheme or The Opportunity Programme to give its full name but I would like in this progress report to highlight the remarkable efforts of one of our male ex-TOP students, Upendra Kumar. Remember his story? Well- here it is,
Choosing my own path
“Education means everything to me.”
I understand that in the West, in the UK and the USA for example everybody gets a chance to go to School. One of the co-founders of People First told me one day that actually he hated his school and left early with little or no qualifications. When he was my age, about 22 he realized his mistake and went back to school, to university to study for his degree. And now he has started an educational charity and is working for so many children to have the right to an education. He once told me “education is not merely the gaining of qualifications; it is the right to choose your own path in life”. I mention this because without People First that choice would have been denied to me, I would have still been taking my family’s goats to the river, I would not have been able to read even the local newspaper, I would have had no chance of a fulfilling life. I would have been like so many in my village, like so many of my family, unable to even fill in the form for a railway ticket without help, unable to know about my rights, unable to know which bus to catch, kept in ignorance and poverty because nobody was there to teach me to read and write.
I know there are people who say, educating village children will kill the village. They will all leave for the lights and flyovers of the cities and metros, they will abandon their homes, they will never return. But I want to tell you, who are the dishwashers behind the scenes of the five star hotels, who are the rickshaw pullers, the labourers building luxury flats for the rich? They are mainly the uneducated poor from States like Bihar. The general coaches of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata bound trains are full of such people. All travelling in hope and in dirty overcrowded coaches for the chance to make a pittance under the skyscrapers and a polluted sky, far away from the clean green air of the village. Most will return with little to show for their efforts, mostly broken dreams and empty pockets.
The trafficking of people, particularly children from Bihar is well documented but the full extent is not really known, it is a huge problem. And yet people say providing education for the village poor will make the situation worse? I say to those who doubt the value of an education, I am sure you criticise from the position of being provided one.
I will never abandon my family. Nor will any other student that I know from People First. If anything we will be able to help break the so called cycle of poverty.
I want to help provide my family with a tiled roof to replace the straw one, I want never again to see them hungry, I want them to worry no longer about the future, about their children, I want them to live lives of dignity in reasonable comfort, to never again not have money to buy medicines for their children for, my dying brother, who passed away when he was five, for want of a bottle of pills costing about one US dollar. With my education I can do all these things and have a wonderful fulfilled life myself. That is all I ask.
I was born into a Dalit caste family in a poor village in Bihar. Of course we never had toys but we used to make our own, a brick tied to a piece of string would do, but I was soon helping with the household chores and tending the goats. I have two brothers, one younger and one older, and one sister. We accepted our life, in our culture to be born into a lower caste is regarded as a punishment from God for transgressions in a former life.
We were often hungry. I always remember in my childhood how my mother would always do her best to look clean, even in her tattered Sari, how she would always try to do her best for us, even if there was only a little rice to cook. And my father who never drank, but would tell us tell us stories at night by the light of a simple lantern, and would try and find a piece of plastic to cover the roof above the place on the floor where we slept, when the rains came.
There was a government school, but there was nobody there except children waiting for teachers to come, or when they did to be actually taught by them.
And then People First started a school. They came to our village because many villagers got together and donated land to them so they could build a school.
It was of course, the beginning of a whole new life, it would transform everything.
I studied hard; I knew this was my way out. I won a People First Scholarship under the CAPS scheme Children’s Academic Personal Scholarships- (now called TOP) to a private residential school. I remember the day I told my mum and dad I was going to study full time, and they both beamed with pride. My mum, tears in her eyes, whispered “Dear God my son is going to be somebody, he will stand tall”
I passed my school leaving certificate and to be eligible for a college scholarship through People First I had to get a first division pass, I just scraped it to be honest.
First Division means the top 10%.
I was sponsored to go to college, and after studying computer engineering locally to Intermediate level, I am now completing my degree in software and computer engineering in a prestigious college in Bangalore, I am presently learning the C++language. I give thanks for the opportunities afforded to me every single day.
I walk the path with joy and hope.
Note: This story is based on a series of Interviews with Upendra describing his life.
The reason we publishing Upendra's story again (with his permission of course) is as you can see from the photo above he has just graduated with a Masters Degree in Computer Studies from his college in Bangalore. Well done Upendra! and what a different future awaits him than the one which would have had without his education.
And of course his success story is one of many. In a very succesfull month for all of our educational programmes all our 10th Class TOP Students passed in the top 17%, and all our students including many girls passed in the same examination from our flagship village school in Dhobi Bihar. you will be hearing from them in future updates.
So please support this programme, copy this update to your friends or anybody that you think might be interested in helping change a life so much for the better by providing an opportunity to them that would otherwise be denied.
We are indeed all unique, but sadly the opportunities available to children and young people are not the same . Please help us change the world, one child at a time.
Thank you so much for help concern and your support,
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Project Liason Officer
Dhobi Gaya Rd Bodhgaya,