Our most life-changing experiences in India were our visits to Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, a school for girls in rural Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and one of its poorest. We saw first-hand the difference the school makes in its students: while two of its girls were leading us around their village, showing us their brick homes and their family’s goats, talking with confidence and poise to us despite the fact that we were both foreign and, in Dave’s case, male, we spotted two girls who weren’t students at the school: wearing dirty clothes and peeking around a wall, they hid shyly whenever we turned our heads towards them.
It was a staggering difference: it was clear which girls would have the skills and confidence to resist the status quo and drive change in their communities, and which ones were going to be bullied by the patriarchy into another childhood marriage and more of the same.
Pardada Pardadi provides free education and vocational training to 1,000 rural village girls in Anupshahar, Uttar Pradesh. Its mission is to create a generation of self-reliant and economically independent girls who will break the cycle of poverty in the region. By teaching vocational skills and depositing 10 rupees in a girl’s account for every day she attends school, Pardada Pardadi ensures its students graduate with the education, the power, and the means they needs to transform their lives.
We’ve talked about Pardada Pardadi before — the good they’re doing (sending two students who’d never been beyond Delhi all the way to California) and the challenges they’re up against (like Ruksana, who had to quit school to get married at the age of thirteen). For the girls who don’t go to Pardada Pardadi, the facts are heartbreaking.
We’re bringing them up again today because they’ve been chosen to participate in the Global Open Access Challenge 2009, which gives them the chance to gain a permanent spot within GlobalGiving, an online marketplace for philanthropy that helps individual and corporate donors find causes they believe in. To be eligible for the permanent spot, which will make a huge difference for their future finances, Pardada Pardadi has one month starting today — until September 18th –- to raise $4,000 from at least 50 unique donors.
Pardada Pardadi is doing great things in India. We support them in many ways: Jenny was employed by them, we volunteer for them, we’ve raised money for them (and many of you, we’re proud to say, donated). This opportunity is one of their biggest yet, which is why we’re writing about it. We encourage you to read about the impact they’re making and then, if you believe in their cause, donate to them via Global Giving.
Update: Pardada Pardadi did it! They have now earned a permanent spot on Global Giving. A huge thanks to everyone who gave and spread the word.