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,
“My name is Pramilla and I come from a village in South Bihar where People First has a women’s sewing centre where I can meet with friends and learn a skill. My family is very poor and our house walls are made of mud but we have some tiles on our roof.
I came to know that before People First had only funds for children and young people for Academic Studies but now they have a new scheme called the TOP scheme which means THE OPPORTUNITY FUND where you could apply for help with vocational training too. I really loved learning to sew and I got a loan from People First to get my own machine but of course I still visit my village centre because all my friends go there. Then I heard that in the nearest city I could do further training in tailoring in a college that will mean I can get a professional certificate of competence. I plan to have my own small business maybe with one or two other women to really supplement and help my family. I applied for a grant, not a loan from People First who considered my work to be enough of a high standard and I was so happy when I found out the grant had been given to me and I could go to college for a year to study, There is no way I could afford the charges or costs and so I have a new hope in Life. You are the wind beneath my wings. Thank you!”
(This was from an interview with Pramilla)
As regular donors will know the Trust wishes to expand the range of opportunities to young people beyond just academic skills. With your help we can give more chances to young people like Pramilla.
Thank you for all your support.
Please see our Facebook page ( the link is below) for two examples of ex TOP students, Santosh and Sanjay who are really progressing in their lives due to the scheme.
This is Naresh Sir with your regular progress report. I want to first wish you the best compliments of the season and express on behalf of us all at People First our very best wishes for a great new year for all of you and your near and dear ones.
The photograph above was taken very recently at a kindergarten run by People First in the village of Kanjiar in South Bihar. One wonders what the future will bring for all these children , what path lies ahead of them, what will they achieve in their lives?
The mission statement of People First, which can be found on our website ( the link is below) talks of giving opportunity to those it has been denied due to poverty family circumstances or oppression. This appeal helps Children under our CAPS scheme, (which means Children’s Academic Personal Scholarships). As you know it may in the future enable some of these children to be sponsored through college or University, something they could never achieve without help. You donations go directly to help such students.
But what about those who may have other skills, or are budding musicians or have a practical aptitude and need vocational training? We want to help as many of them as we can.
Therefore I am pleased to announce that from January 2013 we are incorporating the current CAPS students into a new more inclusive programme, the T.O.P.S programme , which simply means “The Opportunities Programme”. Please look out for more details of this programme in our next update. With your help we can help an ever wider range of poor students who deserve to realise their full potential in life. Please kindly read Upendra’s story on our website which is just one example of the impact on just one Life.
Lets join together and give opportunities to young people, it can change everything, because positive Social change starts with education.
Here a comment from Ranjeet, a 10th Class student now preparing for his Class 10 examinations.
“ I was working washing pots at a roadside café a long way from home when one of the teachers at the People First School in my village, Kanjiar persuaded my parents to send me to School in Bodhgaya on a CAPS place. It was hard at first, no one in my family is educated. But oh my goodness me, what a chance I have to really be something now, to earn and help my family after my studies, pleae help students like me. Thank you so much!”
“And yes I love playing cricket too”!
With Best Wishes and Appreciation to all of you,
As you know the CAPS programme has many facets but its purpose is to provide education. One of our main aims is to help girls through school at least until class ten, and support them through their School leaving examination.
How do we do this? We pay for thier tution costs, buy books and course materials but more than that we counsel the parents to keep thier child at school . We also provide uniforms and other assistance .
This note is from one girl student,
"Sometimes it is hard when there are so many chores to be done and my mother and father are not educated to go to school. I could not have done it, achieved my school leaving pass without the support of the people first person who regularly talked to my mother and father and who provided me with the things I needed to attend school. This has changed my life" Thank you for all your help!"
Over the years we have been able due to peoples genorsity to reach out to over 200 girls from poor backgrounds and help them achieve thier dreams. On October 17th donations will be matched by Global Giving. The average cost of hellping a girl child stay in school is just $10 a month. So $120 will keep a girl in school for a whole year.
Thank you All,
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Project Liason Officer
Dhobi Gaya Rd Bodhgaya,