Greetings from the FFLV team in Vrindavan. We hope this finds you well. Winters have just started to set in. The weather is sunny and beautiful during the day but a bit chilly in the night. Our students are now in mid term preparing for their half yearly exams in this another year full of hope and excitement.
A BIG MILESTONE FOR FFLV: OUR FIRST GRADUATES!
This past school year meant a lot to us, as our first batch of students graduated from 12th grade. Of 12 graduates, 8 were girls, all of who are now enrolled at a private university, Ganeshi Lal Agrawal University (GLA), Mathura. The university is providing fifty percent scholarships to our students and FFLV is covering the balance, as well as the cost of their college uniforms, with the help of generous donors like you!
Going to university is beyond the imagination of most of our students, whose societal and financial circumstances put the cost of continued study so far beyond their reach that the idea itself is almost unthinkable. Most of their famlies live a hand-to-mouth existance that makes it impossible to save anything, let alone enough to pay for the steep costs of private college tuition.
In this report we would like to introduce to you Pushpa, one of the graduated girls, now attending the university.
Pushpa is a lively, talented and studious girl, who was in our first graduation class.
Having been born and raised in a very poor family did not stop her from focusing on her dream. At SMS she was active in extra curricular activities from excelling in odissi dance, feeling confident with a computer, and trekking in the Himalyas to becoming a karate champion.
Pushpa had been in our Sandipani Muni School since she was 8 years old when she admitted to first grade. Here she relates to us her journey from the street to SMS and now to University.
How do you feel about getting into University?
"Going to college would not have been that easy, had not Food for Life Vrindavan extended its support from school to university. I was under the impression that there would be less to study, on contrary I hardly get time for self-study and myself."
What keeps you occupied?
"The economic condition of my family is not good, therefore to support my family I have a part-time job of giving private tuition to small kids. Everyday my College finishes at 5 pm. I reach home at 6 pm,and then I give tuition to 7 children until 7:30 pm, after a quick dinner I go to bed to sleep for 3 hours,I get up at 11 pm to study till 2:30 am, then I sleep again for four hours, another day begins usually at 7:30 am."
Do you miss Sandipani Muni School?
"Of course I do. Now when I have professors who are very compassionate and patient, it reminds me of the teachers I had in Sandipani Muni School. It reminds me of their love and faith and because of that support, it has made me what I am today. Sometime when I get late for college, I skip packing my lunch; by the afternoon I start to miss the tasty lunch that we use to get at our school. I am grateful to God, that Rupa prabhu and Nikunja mataji picked me up and brought to SMS. My parents would have never been able to afford the education that I got for free at SMS. I learned karate, dance and computer in my school, where I also got a lifetime opportunity to travel abroad. And now FFLV is supporting my college education too."
What course are you pursuing in the University? What do you want to become?
"I am pursuing bachelors in Pharmacy its called B.Pharma. In terms of profession, there are many opportunities for me after I finish this course, for example I can get into marketing, sales, and research. I have not decided on it yet. Amid all of this my priority is to stabilize my family economically and serve the society."
It's thrilling for all of us at FFLV to see the first results of our many years of hard work. "I look back at the time when we started the school in 2002, " says Nikunjavasini Didi, Sandipani Muni Schools' co-founder, "We saw the potential in these children and wanted them to have a chance to learn so they could realize it. We dreamed and they worked hard. And now, here they are! We are so proud of them." We invite you to share in our pride and thank you for your part in helping them achieve this goal.
MEET SOME OF THE YOUNG WOMEN WHO STUDY AT OUR SCHOOL
In our last update, we gave you a sneak peek at a short film one of our volunteers from the US made about Nandini, one of the many gifted and ambitious young women at our school. The film is part of a series that will introduce to those of you who can't make it to India, to our students, our school and to Vrindavan, the special place where we work. We are very proud of the series and eager to share it with you.
Today we'd like to introduce you to Maya, who wants to become a teacher. Maya embodies the hope and possiblity that inspire us to work on behalf of girls like her every day. We'll let her tell you in her own words about her hopes and dreams and what having an education means to her. Please click on the link below to hear her story.
Thank you again, for supporting our work. It means more to us and our students than we can ever possibly say!
Rupa (Founder, FFLV)
We have come a long way together. This year our first batch of 12th graders is graduating from school. This marks the completion of their school. When we asked if you wish to go for further studies (college), guess what the answer was? All of them said Yes!. That moment was really satisfying and encouraging for us and this has been made possible by you all.
Times are changing. From the point where we were trying to prevent child marriage, we now seem to be stepping into a new phase..a phase where the real potential of these girls has just started to bloom. In this report we would like to show you the difference you are making by your contribution. Attached is a link to a short film about one of our school girls Nandini which is just a glimpse of what your contribution does.
We would like to thank you all because you helped us achieve our goal of sponsoring 100 girls. Generous gifts from you all provide the financial and moral support needed to continue our mission. We want to express our appreciation and deepest gratitude for your constant contribution to our project. Your assistance means so much to us. We look forward to a continuing partnership with you, therefore, we have now further added 50 more girls to be sponsored to our current project: Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 150 Girls in India 8803. This way we can continue to help more girls like Nandini.
Your generosity is making an immediate difference in the lives of the girls at Food for Life Vrindavan. The funds are going toward the education, food, uniform, stationary and the over all development of the girls. You are making a difference!
Rupa Raghunath Das
(On behalf of the girls of Sandipani Muni School)
Piya is a bright young girl with lots of enthusiasm. She is also a wonderful dancer. Recently at an inter school competition for devotional dance presided by Laxminarayan Mahayagya at the Vrindavan's Kumbha Mela site Piya won the first prize.
Piya is studing in the 6th grade of Sandipani Muni School. She is an honest girl with a civilized behaviour. Although Piya is average in her academics, she is a really good dancer. She is learning folk dance at the school and does amazing performances on stage. Piya comes from a family of 6. She has a brother and two sisters and live in a small rented room in Vrindavan. Her father works hard as a rickshaw puller in Sandipani school, while her mother works in local houses as house maid.
As the year is ending like many other adolescent girls from a normal background, Piya also hopes to have something special, you can make it happen for her and many more girls and guess what? it takes just a fiver!, Yes! We are gearing up for New Year Gift Festival. One gift pack its US$5 and you can donate as many as you like. Here is a link to do this theough global giving : http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/gifts-for-street-children-girls-in-india-food-for-life/
Look forward to your support in making many Piyas Smile :)
Thank you again for supporting our project!
We have so much going on here and have some really exciting news to share with you all since our last report!
As you must have noticed, GlobalGiving allowed us to increase our project target of sponsoring 75 to 100 girls, have raised $39,387 so far and are only $2,612 shy.
Meanwhile let me take this opportunity to update you on what these girls, that you have sponsored, are achieving in their day to day lives and how your donations are changing their lives forever.
We are proud to share that this year’s Educational State Board Exams results for 10th Grade were much higher than the previous year. 16 out of 17 students, have passed within the first division, meaning with a percentage higher than 60%. The average of our 10th grade students was 65.72%.Our top two students that achieved the highest score were girls.
1. Rajkumari 77%
2. Mithilesh 76%
Next year, 2013, our first batch of students will graduate and go for further studies to colleges. We are really looking forward to cover that and report to you that how many girls choose education over early marriage.
On June 29th our school girl, Pushpa(18 yrs) got an opportunity to go to the UK to visit a school in Stoke on Trent. She was accompanied by two of our staff members and our school boy Pritam. This was under an exchange program with a school "The Discovery Academy" in the UK. Pushpa was extremely happy “My family is very proud of me", she said," this is the first time I have ever gone somewhere abroad!”
On the 12th of August 2012, 15 girls from our Sandipani Muni School got an opportunity to meet the current president of India, Mr. Pranab Mukhrjee. Our school girls gave a melodious performance after a two day rehearsal with a team of mucisians from the band of Oscar Winner A.R. Rehmaan. Mr President really enjoyed their performance and expressed his appreciation by presenting the girls with a present. The news was also covered in a national newspaper The Hindustan Times. The girls got an opportunity to stay in the Parliament house for two days before their performance. The girls were so happy and felt confident on the stage during their performance. Mansi (15 yrs) excited after her beautiful performance innocently said, "I never thought I would get a chance to meet the president of India, I had only read His name in the GK Books."
Some of these girls had also performed at World Flute Festival on the 10th of August, which was innaugrated by the ex President of India, Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalaam.
All this and more has just been possible because of your kind contribution towards the education of these girls. All the opportunities they have got are because they are at the school. These girls, if had got married at a young age, would have never got this chance to make a decision in their lives.
Thank you once again, on behalf of Sandipani Muni School Girls.
Rupa Raghunath Das
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
It's official! Thanks to you and 790 donors like you, Food for Life Vrindavan's project to prevent child marriage in India by sending 75 girls to school finished third among all 54 projects participating in the Challenge! In just a month, you contributed over $23,000 to enable 54 very poor girls from in and around Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, to receive free education for one year and build personal savings accounts for their use upon graduation. On their behalf, we thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for making this possible!
As a challenge winner, FFLV will be one of 12 beneficiaries of the Girl Effect Fund in 2012, which means that we will receive 1/12th of all contributions made to the fund over the coming year. This year, the Fund is pushing to raise $1 Million (they've just crossed the $800K mark). We're hoping that next year will be even better. As you can imagine, the resulting funds and visiblity we'll receive will allow us to do even more for our girls.
In January, we will be sending you our first project progress report, but we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to Mithlesh, one of our students, so you can see how your contribution will impact the lives of others like her.
Radhe Radhe! This is our greeting in Vrindavan.
My name is Mithlesh, I am 14, studying in the 9th standard in Sandipani Muni school, with my two siblings as well.
I was born in Vrindavana, in Sant Colony, a very quiet place.
My father took the renounced order of life (sannyas) because he was too sick to work. I don’t know where is he now. He always travels around.
To feed our family, my mother used to cook for an Ashram. Even though she was very weak and sick, she worked hard for the sake of the family. We were very poor. In my house there were no facilities. There was no water, so we had to get it from a hand pump. There are four of us and we had lived in only one room.
Before, I didn’t have any education because we didn’t have money for it. When some people working at the Sandipani Muni school suggested to my mother to help making uniforms for the children there, she agreed. That’s how we came to know about the school and I got the chance to enter into it. Now life is much better. It’s my second life.
I finally have education, clothes and food. I have a sponsor who helps me and my family. The school has provided a sewing machine to my mother to help her, and she is now working for the school.
I love my school. There are many activities going on here like karate, making designs and sewing. I love to dance, Odissi style, and I study that. I also got the chance to go to UK last year and that helped me learn a lot about the world.
I am happy too, that I can study hard without fear of early marriage. It is very common in India for a girl’s parents to arrange a marriage to a boy or man she has never met -- sometimes, when she is as young as 10, because the younger she is, the lower the dowry price her parents will have to pay.
Even though it is against the law, most people turn their backs on child marriage but SMS has a special “Save the Girls” fund that encourages our families to keep us in school. We get the money when we turn 18. I am lucky also, because my mother is very determined for her daughter to get a good education.
When I finish school, I would like to become a pilot, because I like Physics and Math.
When I was told about this challenge and that almost 800 people donated towards the education for girls like me, I felt so happy. Thank all of you for helping us. You are like angels in our lives!
We hope Mithlesh's story has inspired you. Thank you again for supporting girls like her and helping us win the Challenge!
Rupa and the Sandipani Muni School team
Food for Life Vrindavan
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