I have been in India for about 3 weeks now volunteering as an English as a Second Language teacher/tutor for a non-profit NGO known as the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. I work and live at the organization’s primary facility which is a school complex located in the rural community of Anupshahr. This small, but densely populated village is nestled a few hours due East of Delhi along the banks of the sacred Ganges River. The organization’s main aims and objectives are to actively combat poverty in the region by providing quality early-childhood education to local young women, at no cost to the students or their families. Born within the parameters of India’s predominantly patriarchal society, many women are restricted and inhibited from achieving access to the means and opportunities with which to determine the courses of their own lives. This also hinders their ability to become the sole sovereign authority over their own intrinsic humanity and the free will this grants each of us regardless of gender, race, wealth, creed, or conviction. Pardada Pardadi seeks to empower entire generations of India’s future female leaders by providing them an environment in which to learn, grow, and flourish while discovering their passions, potentials and indomitable resolves in shaping their own destinies. In addition to granting every single student 10 rupees for each day of attendance from grades k-12 (which they earn access to upon graduation), the program also provides each of them with 2 meals a day and all necessary school supplies. Currently the student body numbers at about 1400 students, and the founder of the institution, whom I have met personally, hopes to double that number in the coming years. Moreover, in their holistic approach to countering and rectifying some of the abhorrent, unjust inequities of indigence, Pardada Pardadi also works to directly strengthen the households of their students by investing in numerous employment, self-help and social awareness initiatives for their mothers. One of my favorites is assisting women who own cows in the community so as to more expansively distribute their milk to purchasing customers and store-owners within the surrounding area. A more recent endeavor undertaken by the organization is ensuring all students have access to running water and proper hygienic facilities when they return home from school each day. Although I have a long way to go in adapting to and acclimating myself to this new place, culture, and atmosphere, the staff and students have been so hospitable, patient, and gracious with me thus far. I feel beyond honored, humbled and privileged to aid them in their strive to sculpt ideals into realities and look forward to contributing to the Pardada Pardadi vision of a more secure, enlightened and prosperous world that we may all share in peace.

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