This Saturday, Michele, our friend Dave, his friend Leslie, and I, took a car to an NGO, Dave's wife Jenny has been working for and with. The NGO is called Pardada-Pardadi and it runs a school for girls in Anupshah, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. The village is about 3 hours from Delhi on poorly paved roads. It took us 4.5 hours to get back because of terrible traffic! But that is at the end of this journey. First we got up at 5:30 to get to Daves house by 6:45am. Then we went to the school and village. At the school we were greeted with garlands (flower necklaces) and showered with flower petals, of course these really were not for us. They were for two other visitors, one of which was the head of Xerox in India, who had facilitated large donations from Xerox and from themselves to the school and NGO. We had come to represent Jenny (Dave's wife) who is in the US with two of the students from Pardada-Pardadi. But it was a nice welcome anyway. We then got a tour of the school led by some of the 10th grade students, who were practicing their English, when I was trying to practice my Hindi (so conversation was a little funny), but they seemed to appreciate my Hindi practice, and my knowledge of Hindi, since no one else in our group said anything in Hindi.
We then watched many of the students put on a performance with different cultural dances, and listened to the principle of the school, and its founder, named Sam, talk about the schools mission and goals. The school provides the girls with academic classes, vocational training (sowing, embroidery etc.), three meals a day, and 10 rupees deposited in their own bank account for everyday they attend school- this money is only accessible after they graduate and get married or turn 18. The money is to help them start their own business or job and support their family. As well as to make them independent and self sufficient, in a country where women are not usually able to take care of themselves.
The food, independence and education are valuable to the family of the girl because the girls get fed, and are better marriage matches with their education, and when they work and leave school they can add to the family income.
After the performance, we went to the schools elementary/primary school, a short drive away, and saw another performance. After which we went to Sam's house in the village. Sam, who founded Pardada-Pardadi, comes from the family that collected the taxes in the area/village for many years, is very wealthy and worked in the US for 40 years before coming back to India and literally putting all of his money towards this NGO. This is an interesting thing to do given the trend of some wealthy Indians giving up their wealth for causes, while others move back to India from abroad to live like kings. In any case at his house we were served an amazing lunch and talked with other people involved in the NGO. We then walked around Sam's village, and met with and talked to the villages. We then took the way to long car ride home.
It was great to get out of Delhi for the day, see an interesting organization, and walk around a village.
Some guys on our road trip back, who were excited to see some white people, and a white woman (me taking their picture). Yeah admirers or sketchy men.