Aashish Chandna, volunteer - October 2009

02 December 2009

Aashish volunteered with PPES in October 2009. After two weeks, his eyes and gigantic smile were the proof that he enjoyed his time at the school! We asked him to write about his experience. Here is the e-mail he sent us:

<< Volunteering was something I had been thinking about for a while but somehow never got around to doing it – there were always excuses of long working hours, not finding enough time etc. However, I knew I unless I took a week or two off work I wouldn’t be able to start and get involved. I had been researching about the volunteering programmes for a while and heard about PPES in India through a friend of mine and about Sam Singh who had started this education program.

First port of call was to “google” Sam and PPES. Endless articles flooded the page and I got to read more about Sam and the wonderful project he had started for the girls in Bichola village. That was it – I had decided that this is what I wanted to do and meet this inspirational human being who was putting so much effort into the cause.

Having never seen village life in India, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! I met Sam Renuka And Shanti ji in Bichola. We visited the school on Sunday when it was closed! Stepping into the school when it was packed with more than 900 school kids was a different experience altogether. The school was alive and kicking, it was full of life! I met with all the teachers who were very friendly and very accommodating with my questions and introductions! It was like being a part of the family. Some school kids giggled, some smiled, some shied away but all of them had one thing in common – they were all smiling, proud to be attending school with books in their hands! "Good morning Sir" or "Bhaiya" were only said the next day when they knew I had been around for a day!

I helped out with computer classes with Mehmood Bhaiya and spent time with all teachers. A few days at the school were not enough, however in the limited time I was there it was enough time to make friends with the students and teachers especially with Mehmood bhaiya and Neetu. I still remember them fondly and am in touch with them via email which we had set up together!

Watching kids brush their teeth in the morning (the tooth brush programme for primary kids school), I never thought could be so fascinating. Watching them from upstairs, while they all giggled as I took their photos whilst brushing used to bring a smile to my face!

The food at the school was amazing – to cook over 2000 chapattis daily is not for the faint hearted! But the kids all helped out and the “loki” cooked by them was spicy and delicious! All kids gathering in the auditorium and sitting in line for breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks were truly Kodak moments!

At the school, I also met with Lindsay and Ron who had been volunteers at the school and had a long association with Sam. Seeing Lindsay help out with the classes and kids running up to her and Ron’s determination to increase the number of toilets in the villages made me think that Sam’s message was spreading. He had volunteers from abroad who had heard about this and were helping him make this difference.

It was sad saying goodbye to all the kids on my last day. I genuinely had the most amazing time there. The PPES is a wonderful cause. With the primary school initiative, they are laying down the basic foundation which is fundamental to their growth and prosperity. The girls want to learn, be more independent and it’s the education, the vocational skills that they are being taught is going to help them succeed in their life – a fine example is Asha’s story!

The team in the Delhi office – Nat, Preeti, Renuka, Eshant and Shrijna are all so committed to the cause and proudly say “our” school and “our” school kids. It is after all - their school, their efforts, their determination that is helping the school with its success but any help for the school no matter how small is a big stepping stone for the school’s future. I genuinely wish them all the very best and Sam with this mission. I would love to go back to the school and meet them all again and spend time with them.

This experience has left me with fond memories and made me realise that education is so important, something that we take for granted here but not every child in India has the privilege of!

The Pardada Pardadi school kids are fortunate to have this access to this and are determined to make their stories a success with PPES!

Thank you Aashish! It was great to have you and we hope to see you soon!!!