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January 2009 Newsletter

Meet Chhaya
Like all PPES girls, Chhaya was born in a village where girls are unwanted and married off between the age of thirteen and fourteen. But with her dreams to pursue higher education and with the help of PPES, she has the opportunity to fly high.

Born in 1990, Chhaya lived in a small village, Bichola, with her mother, grandparents and younger brother. Her father was mostly absent, which added a lot of stress to the family.

But Chhaya was not discouraged by her circumstances, and joined Pardada Pardadi Girls Vocational School in 5th class and quickly became a star pupil. She loved school, and went on to be sponsored to attend SNDT College in the western Indian city of Pune to complete her 12th class. She then went on to pursue her Bachelor in Arts from the Rai Foundation in Jaipur, with a special interest in their Air Hostess course.

After being interviewed in early 2009, it was clear Chhaya was thoroughly enjoying her education. She loved learning about the hospitality and travel industries, and was confident she would be hired by the most prestigous airline in India, Kingfisher Airlines. With her confidence, intelligence and ambition, PPES is sure she will leave her own mark in this patriarchal society no matter what she pursues.
 


Donations and Sales
Donations: Xerox India is supporting PPES through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, by providing financial support to create a marketing avenue of products made by PPES and to strengthen the capacity of the organization. In addition, they are supporting vocational training for three hundred students and employees will be volunteering their time and skills to conduct activities and training for student's development and learning. They have been thinking of new ways to get involved nearly everyday - and we are very grateful for their support.

Dupont's Employees Voluntary Contribution Fund raised money for our Rags to Pads project. This contribution was matched by Dupont. Their support go towards getting the project off the ground and also pledges money for the years after to help with sustainability. It's wonderful to see employees getting involved to support a great cause. This project was also supported by many individuals. Thanks so much!

Jacobi Wade, a recent school volunteer, returned to Florida and held a book-raiser for PPES at a local restaurant. She encouraged friends and family to share the gift of reading by donating a book to our school over wine and appetizers. This week two large boxes of children's books arrived via Priority Mail. Thanks, Jacobi! We cannot wait to share these books with our students!

A big thanks to all our supporters, including Ray Whalen's generous support of our Residence Complex project.

Sales: We had some big sales in the last couple months thanks to help from Deepti Sharma, the American Embassy School, Ms. Poonam Kapila and Ms. Geeta Athreya.

*Pictured: A cushion made by students. Want it? Buy it now.


PPES is Growing -- a lot of projects in progress
Rags to Pads Project: A project to provide low-cost sanitary pads to students and female staff, as well as create employment opportunities for women in a region that has almost none. The machine for manufacturing pads has been purchased and is in transit to the school. Meanwhile, construction began in early January on a room for production of the pads, packaging, storage of the raw materials and the finished packets. Besides helping in installation and operation, training will be given to four graduates of the school by the company providing the machine to ensure that this soon becomes an income generation activity.

Toilet Project: A project to prevent open defecation by building toilets, bringing health, sanitation, and dignity to students of Pardada Pardadi Girls Vocational School, their family, and their neighbors. Six toilets were completed at the end of 2008 in the villages Dugrow and Shanjapur, and construction is under way to finish an additional 54.

Residence Complex Construction: Begun in order to recruit better qualified and experienced teachers by providing good accommodation in an area of India where none exist, as well as providing space for volunteers to stay. Construction began on the three-story building on December 20th. Some funds have been raised, but we still need more for completion. Interesting in supporting this project? You can do so here.

*Pictured: A laborer working on the construction of the Rags to Pads buildling.

 



Teacher and Community Workers Training
Teacher training: Starting in September 2008, Bharti Foundation (our partner) began a series of competitions to help teachers maximize their potential and growth as professionals. We are happy to announce that two of our teachers won a series on organizing information graphically. Congratulations Megha Garg and Reena Sharma!

Recently, all staff members have been undergoing extensive in-house health training, including general health, hygiene and adolescent development.

Community workers training: Community Workers are an important way for PPES to communicate our mission to villagers. They provide information on our school, training for families who receive a toilet through our toilet project and provide a dialogue for us to hear community concerns.

New training was recently given by S M Sehgal foundation, a trust whose mission is to further the wellbeing of rural communities in India.

*Pictured: A teacher receiving certificate on health training from Mr. Jose, our Administrative Head.

 

Health Checks
With the help of Dr. Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, a handful of our students have been trained in identifying eye problems. When they are identified, they will accompany students to the hospital for treatment or for glasses.

Following a parents meeting about the benefits of taking iron and de-worming tablets held on January 26th, students have begun to receive these, as well as tetanus injections. This are given by a local doctor with support from the World Health Organization.

Hepatitis B epidemics are common in India. Hepatitis B, a life-threatening disease, is totally preventable by vaccination. We are raising funds to give all our students this injection. If you would like to contribute, please go here.


Studying Hard, New Volunteers and Visitors
Studying hard: Class X girls are busying preparing to take the March 2nd CBSE exit exam from high school with extra study hours. Relieved of regular classrooms, they are being tutored and drilled by teachers on trouble subjects. They are being helped by volunteer, Mr. Punjab Singh (who recently returned to India from Columbia University in New York), who comes on Sundays to help girls with English and Biology.

Teacher volunteers from America: We are thrilled with the arrival of three volunteers from America. Judith Hunger, who worked at PPES from October 2007 through March 2008, has returned to work for three months until the end of March. During her stay she will work on conversational English with Class XII (7th grade) as well as selected girls from Class IX to acquaint them with a bit of business and practical English. Also, Emma O'Hagan and Lindsay Johnson, recent graduates of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, will be spending one full year at the school and continue previous volunteers' work teaching English with a focus on drama/stage productions for the students.

We need volunteers. Interested? Get all the details from our Volunteer Coordinator.

Visitors: Visitors continue to come to PPGVS and tour the school, often spending time to volunteer with classes and speak to the students.

Over the last couple months we've had a number of visitors. Thanks to Ron Fuchs, Mr. Mehra, Mrs. Shaista and her two sons, Mrs. Ritu Gandhi Jauhar, Vishnu Vaasudev, and officers from the Life Insurance Corporation of India.

*Pictured: Emma, Lindsay and Judy.

 



Our Wishlist
1) We need multiple copies of beginner English books, so that a group of students could follow along while the teacher reads.

If you can help, contact Jenny.

2) Shipping books to India. Have the books and need to figure out how to get them to us? Be creative! Hold a bake sale, tell your friends and family about what you are trying to do on your blog or on Facebook, or ask for donations towards shipping for your birthday.

3) Do you know of a service to ship books at a reduced rate? If yes, let us know.

*Pictured: Jacobi Wade, a former volunteer, with a student.


Celebrations
Marriages: Asha, one the very first girls to gain admission to PPGVS in 2000 and who was the first girl to go to America on an exposure trip, got married on December 7, 2008. Since graduating from our school, she has been working as a vocational teacher. Ms. Krishna also has been recently married. She was part of the second group of PPES students and completed Class X in 2007. She is currently employed at our shop in Meerut.

Holidays: It's been a busy couple months for holidays. The school celebrated Christmas, and New Year.

January 26th was Republic Day. It was a very cool and foggy morning, and the schoolyard was filled with girls and boys in green and yellow uniforms, excitedly anticipating the annual program of speeches, dancing and singing. This took place for Honored Guest, Dr. Pradeep Sharma, his wife, Sam Singh, dignitaries from the community and for our volunteers, Judy, Emma and Lindsay. All entered the building at the front entrance, which was decorated with a floral rangoli prepared by teachers. Three hundred parents showed up to find out from Dr. Pradeep Sharma about our new health program (discussed above) and Sam took this opportunity to stress the mission of the school: to make students financially independent and to encourage them to remain single until graduation, ensuring them the bank account when they get married. The program ended with the distribution of sweets to the students.

*Pictured: Asha on her wedding day. Photo courtesy of Ron Fuchs.