Thoughts on how to build PYDS over time

All those connected with the Society are aware that we are taking responsibility for each of the children in our care for many years (at least 15 for each of them) and investing in them. It was only 6/7 years until recently but will now become longer with our having commenced the Primary School Programme. We believe that she/he that we take responsibility for will become a leader from the Community in her/his own right and become change Agents influencing several others over time and so slowly change the Community in many ways.

I see that many have dedicated some of their time and energy to furthering the lives of others and are involved with us in several ways. I am writing this Blog so that you can help me think further on the lines that I have indicated. Perhaps you have other new and different thoughts. We are a fledgeling operation and need to go a very long way but we shall strive towards excellence and my present purpose is to ask you to help me think better. Thinking and planning is the basis of all progress and I know that I am asking for your time, the most difficult of resources but I shall deeply appreciate your help.

I am beginning to believe that all that it takes to succeed in a venture of the type that I have undertaken is to make sure of a few essentials. Most important of it all is the sense of Mission and its goals and the conviction that the vision will succeed. We need to be focused on these goals and define for ourselves about what we need to do and what we shall not do, the latter being as important as the former since we need to remain focussed. We then need to marry the Mission with the activities that we undertake.

We will need to realise that there will be vision changes with the changing world. New themes and dimensions will get added to the issue. As far as we are concerned the most important idea is inclusive growth and opportunity.

Faith in the fact that we are the Agents of the Lord designated to accomplish this purpose is important. There should be no feeling of ownership or arrogance of accomplishment. All of this belongs to Him and ours is to merely perform to the best of our abilities and we shall do so as long as He wills that we do. This attitude calls for total dedication to the purpose and the surrender of all other pursuits at the altar of this goal.

Entrepreneurship is part of the skill that needs to be brought into the plan. The essence of this quality is faith in the ultimate success of the purpose and the Mission. Innovation is all about being able to garner money and other resources so that we build very useful and adequate infrastructure. We need to possess the skills to develop designs needed to accomplish excellent education or whatever we produce at Stree Shakti (Quilts is our Product at the present time). We need to access technology to help build systems for efficiency and ongoing understanding of the outcomes of our endeavours. This implies that we will have clearly defined Measures and outcomes and drills for evaluating the progress as we go along.

Since I need to accomplish the purpose set out with the resources garnered from others there is a need for great transparency and honesty in matters of accounts, each voucher generated. The Annual Report needs to become elaborate and be available to all the stakeholders. We may define these stakeholders as ourselves, to begin with, the donors, the beneficiaries, the employees of the Society and the members of the Board. We perhaps also need to include the customers of Stree Shakti who may be buying to support a cause. There could be other important people in Government and elsewhere whose support for the progress of the enterprise is important. All of this adds up to a very large number. Fortunately, we now have the Web to broadcast the Annual Report and plenty of money can be saved in the process.

Once transparency is established we should be building public awareness and so improve the chances of our survival and progress.

The rules by which the activities of the Society are governed also need to be laid down and be common knowledge. These need to be codified for HR (Hiring, wages, Confirmation Promotion etc.) for Purchasing, Assets Management, Accounting Rules, Qualification, conduct and Membership of the Board. There could be other things as well. We need to think about all this, codify and then to begin practising them.

As for the purpose of this Mission, the approach could be either narrow and deep or broad and shallow. Larger numbers can benefit through the latter method but each initiative needs to determine its own road. We have chosen to make it narrow and deep and so do not expect to benefit very large numbers. We shall concentrate on the small numbers and attempt to bring about profound changes through them.

—– G.K Swamy

Narrow and deep, rather than wide and shallow

Over the years we have concentrated on a few students and not attempted to handle big numbers from the community that we serve. We have adopted this approach rather consciously. Our accent has been on the potential of the children and their ability to absorb the investment of time and resources that the Society provides. The numbers that we mentor are small in relation to the student population of the Community but we believe that if we shape a few young minds well, they would, in turn, become change agents of the Society in times to come. We will invest narrow and deep and not make it broad and shallow.

In this quest, there have been two very important developments related to our Programme in the recent past:

(a) We are consciously moving towards establishing our Day Boarding Programme and moving away from the SPRY idea. This is for two reasons: We do believe that the children are unable to cope effectively with the very long hours that the SPRY Programme demands The second reason is that we believe that we should be able to more effectively build creativity and completeness in the learning, if the children are with us the whole day and save the time travelling to school. We will in this programme be able to give better attention to nutrition, health care and the Mental and Emotional Health of the child. We expect also to be able to give better attention to the Social Health of the child in the context of the long hours that they will spend with us. One notices that in spite of the long hours with us the children will enjoy more leisure and spend quality time with their parents under this new arrangement.

(b)The second very important idea is that we shall concentrate on developing outstanding candidates who will become leaders and change agents in due time. These wards of ours will be chosen from among the disadvantaged in the community. They need not necessarily be the poorest possible, although these could also qualify.

Without realising that we were following Mr Amratya Sen’s Human Capability approach, we have been attempting it. Dr Sen talks of Instrumental, Intrinsic and Positional value of Education. This follows on from Sen’s ideas of Freedoms.

Instrumental values represent the extent to which education secures jobs and promotes individual political and social participation. Our original and primary objective was to help our children secure jobs in this growing economy full of opportunities. The objective is a little more advanced beyond what Dr Sen envisages since we are attempting to secure for our wards, not just jobs but those that are well paying and capable of making a paradigm change in their living styles. Emphasis on the Social health of the students is meant to enable their wider social participation and the teaching of their rights and possibilities under the RTI (Right to Information Act) are meant to promote their political emancipation.

Intrinsic values mean the benefits that accrue to an individual beyond the instrumental factors – increased enjoyment of literature, music or improved self-confidence in interaction with others. Our spending money on the teaching of music, dance, arts and crafts apart from yoga and games and our conscious efforts to help these students travel and meet with people across a wide spectrum are stepping in that direction. Efforts are also made to cultivate soft skills which enhance the personality of the student and increase their self-confidence.

Positional values refer to how education has benefitted the individual in relation to others who have the same level of education but possibly from a different background. Certain types of Institutions are able to help measurements made by job givers and others overlook inequalities in which people have grown up. We wish to address both these aspects so that our students will be able to measure up to the prescriptions of job givers and also fill the gaps arising out of their upbringing and environment. Our hope is that our Institution will be able to deliver these advantages to those under our care

Social Opportunities are being promoted by us by our encouraging our students the freedom to pursue higher education. We consciously prepare them for this possibility, through appropriate career counselling and assistance to a limited extent at the post twelfth class stage, rather than seeking employment after school. Steps are taken to build pride in the self and the Community identity, their cultures and their history.

To implement these ideas there have been two very important developments related to our Programme:

(a) We are consciously moving towards establishing our Day Boarding Programme and moving away from the SPRY idea. This is for two reasons: We do believe that the children are unable to cope effectively with the very long hours that the SPRY Programme demands The second reason is that we believe that we should be able to more effectively build creativity and completeness in the learning, if the children are with us the whole day and save the time travelling to school. We will in this programme be able to give better attention to nutrition, health care and the Mental and Emotional Health of the child. We expect also to be able to give better attention to the Social Health of the child in the context of the long hours that they will spend with us. You will notice that in spite of the long hours with us the children will enjoy more leisure and spend quality time with their parents under this new arrangement.

(b) The second very important idea is that we shall concentrate on developing outstanding candidates who will become leaders and change agents in due time. These wards of ours will be chosen from among the disadvantaged in the community. They need not necessarily be the poorest possible, although these could also qualify.

We realise that to achieve these goals we will need to improve our ideas on access and enrolment. Also, address the quality of ‘Learning’ as opposed to the quality of ‘Teaching’. We are moving away from ‘Teaching to ‘Learning’. We also need to improve learning conditions. We are therefore investing in better textbooks, equipment, and teacher training. We are hoping to improve teacher and student motivation.

We are also aware that investment in Health, hygiene, sanitation and immunization apart from nutrition need to be part of the Education Programme since there can be no quality education without good health and the prospect of normal growth. Improving living conditions is essential – so it is that we took up the question of helping the women of the community earn.

You will thus see that we have addressed the following areas:

(a) Pre-school education Programmes and in-school health and nutrition Programme. Those following us are aware that we are soon to commence our Early Child Learning Centre.

(b) Curriculum and syllabi that are focussed on ’Core skill’ at the Primary level and emphasis on ‘trainability‘ at the higher levels

(c) In-service training for teachers linked directly to classroom practice. Our contract with discovery, Gurgaon is a step meant to promote this goal.

(d) Lengthening the school day and the school year to provide more ‘Learning time. We now run a ten hour a day school and have no conventional holidays for summer and the winter. Children spend their time at our premises learning many things beyond the school curriculum.

(e) Investment in instructional material and infrastructure. This is a continuous process limited only by our rather thin resources.

The other aspect that interests us is the one related to evaluation and assessments. We are comprehending the idea of ‘Evaluating what’ and the ‘How’.

All these initiatives we hope will help us to train a young ward and make him/her a complete person capable of becoming Community leaders and eventually significant change agents. If we succeed we would not have invested all this effort in vain.

"Life is for giving."

At the Board Meeting held in February 2009, that is last year, when the Budget for the year 2009-10 was discussed, there was great concern about how we would succeed in raising the resources required in the context of the economic slowdown that the world was experiencing. I recall that I wrote to our directors as under in early March 2009.

We have a massive effort of collecting monies for the year and the business for collecting for the Corpus as well. This is a very difficult year due to the recession, but just as we need to fend for our businesses, jobs and our families we need to fend for these children for whom we have gladly and willingly taken responsibility. We have no regrets about this commitment. We need to find ways of finding money for the project.

“I can only speak for myself and each of us will need to resolve this issue for themselves. All of you know Chinni, my wife and me well. I am 73 years old and my wife is not young either. We are not rich and have not earned a penny over the last twelve years because we have sworn not to. We do not wish to be distracted. We have some savings in the bank (being sale proceeds of a flat that we sold at Bombay) and live off the interest. It has been meaning ’less and less’ as the time passes by. But our needs are few and we own a nice house in Purkal. We do not socialise or spend time and monies in many ways. Both of us are dedicated to the work of this society and we do contribute some money to society apart from all our time and our skills to it. We are both happy and contented and thank the lord for this opportunity given to us. We have resolved to do our best to get the monies necessary and more importantly pray for it. We will also need to sell all that Stree Shakti produces. We will need to make sure that there will be additional employment and income generation in this Division.

Both of us wish to reach out to some people and make a difference in their lives. We understand that while monies are a means, personal involvement is the best possible gift that one can give. We are therefore giving what is most precious to us, our time and our life.

The experience that we enjoy is unique. The mask of the false self is falling off and we are happy with living with our own self. We know that ultimately the only thing we will leave behind is the only thing that we will take with us, qualities that we have honed and engraved in our soul. We are attempting to leave behind a legacy of the spiritual kind, which we believe is more important than the one of the physical kind. Our fundamental goal is to give these over 150 children the childhood that we owe them and the several women the pride of Life.

But there are problems in the environment. We need to cope with it, we need to fight and we need to do it. I believe that this recession is an opportunity to reinvent. We shall in the process adhere to great business practices and good business culture. We shall learn the power of Faith.

Having said that, I know that what happens is according to the will of God and that he is all love and wisdom. There is a hidden meaning of mercy in all that he does. I, therefore, lift up my heart and pray to him. I shall wait for collective wisdom to permit this effort of mine. I do not wish to forget that I am a part, however minuscule of this collective. I appeal to all of you to give this matter serious thought.”

Now there is another year and another budget and similar doubts. Will it all happen again this year? Are we wise in trusting the Divine purpose and not be sound with practical financial planning? Are we moving in the right direction? These are doubts that assail us yet again.

So, we revisit our ideas on Faith and Giving.

This Mission of Giving that we call PYDS has grown and survived over the years because of the dedication of several Friends of Purkal, all of whom have gained joy and peace from being a part of the effort. More are coming in since they see that there is something in this participation that satisfies. This group has blended into the large and happy Purkal family.

The biggest lesson that we have learnt is that the world is not degenerating but growing with a nucleus of many good people. Work on relationships grows this circle to include many likeminded. In the process, we become fully aware and many areas of our lives get touched. Our minds get filled with fresh possibilities with Life expanding ideas. All this is brought about through faith in goodness and compassion. We now know that we need to practice it more and better.

Looking at it in another light, we shall not amplify situations and facts by investing them with an overload of fears, worries and resistances. We have a need for security but it goes hand in hand with a need for adventure and for venturing into the unknown.

The Purkal family is now attempting to bring about changes in the Community that lives in Purkal through a model that attempts it by providing nutrition and excellence in mind stimulation processes. We call this practice ‘education’. These are being provided to the young so that they could become agents of change of the future.

The decision to take on this Project happened impulsively and the effort is growing and is being sustained with Grace. We have all been transformed into the soldiers who attempt this bold experiment. We are in it now and need to find the tools that will sustain the Mission. It is in the nature of things that Transformation comes first and the tools that make it happen to come in later. Swami Tejomayananda has pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of the First Class compartment in South Africa and that event triggered the Indian Independence movement and transformed him into a freedom fighter. The tools for the independence movement were discovered later.

There must be a higher purpose that dictates this Mission that we are involved in. We cannot control it but only prepare for it, by transforming ourselves into better people through our five senses and the thinking and perceiving faculties.

We need to be happy and cease to be mentally agitated. We have learnt that if we rise above desire, the object of desire comes to us. We get what we deserve and we deserve through service and sacrifice. The sacrifice needs to be firm, unending and abiding.

This piece is being written since I am in need of this reminder now and because I think that this is the most important lesson in Life that we have all learnt. I am therefore proposing that we adopt this as our School’s motto. We shall read it as ‘Paropkaraya Jeevanam’

The desire for service must be raised, ennobled and purified. Its lower aspects need to be controlled. Strong desire for realisation is aspiration and this is no fault since it is the mother of all virtues.

The essentials for practising sacrifice and giving is to make it sacred. What we give has to be of value to us. We are all to be anonymous in this giving and do this without any expectation. The giving is to be done wholeheartedly. While we enjoy our possessions, we enjoy it better when others partake of them.

Giving is the religion of the soul and it emerges from a higher, nobler calling. We are happy giving away our tangibles such as money but we have examples of young people who give their youth, energy, space, comfort to nurture and keep this family called PYDS together and we feel humbled. We know that the hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray.

By sacrificing our limited identity, we have gained a collective identity that works for the welfare, peace, prosperity, progress and happiness of a larger group. We have thus dissolved and merged with the Divine. We have become fearless and happy with our sacrifice and to a degree attained God and we know that this is the road to peace.

May we now pass on this message to all those whom we serve by adopting this as our motto and may we all resolve that we will live by this dictum ‘Paropkaraya Jeevanam’ ourselves.

Blueprint for a new face of Uttarakhand

We are a not for profit organization based in the geographically difficult, mountainous state of Uttarakhand, India. The state covers a total area of53,484 sq.kmand has a relatively small population of 1.11 crores. Located in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges our land is rich in natural resources especially water and forests with many glaciers, rivers, dense forests and snow-clad mountain peaks. It is blessed with a rare bio-diversity; 175 rare species of aromatic & medicinal plants creating the potential for commercial opportunities in horticulture, floriculture and agriculture. Uttarakhand also has a vast tourism potential in adventure, leisure, and eco-tourism.

Hailed as ‘DevBhoomi’ which literally means God’s Land, the ‘Char dhams’ – four most sacred and revered Hindu temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are nestled in the mighty mountains. Every year, our state is a host to about 2 crore pilgrims who come to pay their respects in these holy shrines. The presence of this huge population annually puts a huge burden on the fragile ecosystem of this disaster-prone region. Over the years, commercialization due to the annual influx of tourists in these parts has resulted in encroachment of the embankments, rampant multi-storied construction in route to the shrines, strewing of garbage and wastes which clog the rivers proving to be disastrous for the environment. Such environmental apathy has made our region all the more vulnerable to nature’s wrath; in fact, the recent flash floods and landslides were akin to a Himalayan Tsunami resulting in the loss of lives, property and livelihoods of thousands.

In spite of our natural wealth, the region is backward and underdeveloped. The local population is extremely poor; access to proper education and nutrition is abysmal. Natives make a living through petty jobs as porters, drivers, construction workers etc; with winter months being ruthless in every way. Abject poverty has forced the youth to migrate in huge numbers to urban areas in search of employment.

Our people are hardworking and have a hunger to make their lives better. A great opportunity exists for us. Our region has a huge scope for development; our people have the will and the potential to take it to the summit and put Uttarakhand on the map of the world. The key to sustainable development lies in assisting the entire community to a higher level of occupation. The focus has to be on technologically superior means for wealth generation; the ability in the people of the state themselves, to engage in projects and companies dealing with cutting edge technology. The region has very limited land. A large part of it is under forest cover and we are the lungs of our nation.

To become a State to reckon with, we need to assess and realign our priority areas for growth. It would be a mistake to walk the ordinary line of setting up heavy/ medium scale industries, engaging in cash crop farming etc. High technology-driven industries such as that involving bio/nanotech industries need to be promoted which give manifold returns on the investment made. Furthermore, the state will grow rapidly only if the wealth stays within the State and is used to improve the standards of the local population. The State has a robust youth population of about 25 lacs. The vision envisaged can be realized only through these young, vibrant minds; this young brigade needs to be empowered with superior knowledge and skill sets for bringing about the transformation of our region. Comprehensive development through quality education, proper nutrition and healthcare is a sturdy road map for empowerment and creation of opportunities.

Purkal Youth Development Society

The focus of this Society has been to assist the poorest of the poor in the community; to nurture their creative energies in a positive environment; aiming at excellence in learning; providing contemporary educational tools and exposure for holistic growth. The effort is towards cultivating young minds who would undertake a change of a higher order; provide them singular support on the completion of their schooling to make a smooth transition into successful adulthood.

PYDS is dedicated to creating change agents through various innovative initiatives for enhancing the quality of lives of the underserved.

The Institution is creating not merely qualified students but change agents who will eventually transform the mindset of this region and take it forward into the future. The focus has been on individual young minds rather than undefined masses; this is necessary if the future of our state is to be ensured.

Till date, 76 students have passed out of our scheme and we have been able to help 22 students pursue professional programmes. Many of them are being provided support by the way of school fee and other needed finances to help them pursue their studies in their professional programmes. Three of our students have won an all expense paid scholarship of USD 12,000 per year for 4 years from the Asian University for Women, Chittagong. Four of our students have been awarded the prestigious Khemka scholarships through tGELF( The Global Education And Leadership Foundation) for pursuing higher studies. Even with limited means at our disposal, many of our children are pursuing courses in engineering, management, mass communication, paramedical studies, tourism etc. These were impossible dreams ten years ago; made possible by being true to our belief of sustained hands holding our disadvantaged. With the desired resources, ten years down the line, their achievements would be stellar. Our children have the potential to realize the rightful destiny of our State.

PYDS has relentlessly worked for women’s empowerment and the inclusion of the marginalized sections through various social enterprises. We envision PYDS as a future hub and a fountain for innovative interventions making its ripples felt far and wide across our region.

Our Dreams….

These are trying times. The country is going through a period of economic crunch; prices have soared, the growth has slowed, inflation has rocketed, the industrial sector is in a state of recession; the picture definitely seems dark and gloomy. Most would contend that it would be prudent not to get into new ventures and wait till the proverbial storm blows over. But when is a period optimal for starting an enterprise or to initiate change?

History records constant crisis either financial or any other such as in Food, energy, environment, health care of that which is Socio-economic. Massive Worldwide poverty is a crisis perpetually present. The All-mighty meant for his creation and life to have a range of colours. Life is preordained to be checkered; that’s what drives survival, character, innovation, invention and growth. There is never an ideal time for innovative action to help correct ills.

To think that the formula for success lies in one’s calibre and hard work is akin to wearing blinkers. Our destinies cannot be charted by the outcomes of our endeavours alone. Experiences through life and the wisdom to open ourselves to the eternal cosmic truth would bring the realization that it is the divine will that conquers. The divine element in our work is the game changer. Surrendering to ‘God’s Will’ spontaneously makes one a conduit to carry out the task at hand. Surrendering comes with a state of ‘zero egos’; it practices honesty, integrity, selflessness and transparency.

Each one of us has two sides to us – one which is virtuous and the other which is selfish. These states coexist and are a part of being an ‘imperfect’ human being. Some of us are blessed with an abundance of the former and a few others with a large element of the latter. There are a set of people who work more for personal gains and an equal number who walk the path of giving and get satisfaction by serving humanity. There is nothing that is ideal but the balance appears to lie in maximizing our virtues by practising a life that gives.

The objective cannot be ‘profit’ for all enterprises. For a social enterprise, the aim is to add value to the lives that we attempt to reach out to; the measure being the wellness that we are able to create. A strong philanthropic bent and an attitude for service are what is fostered and propagated. It is impossible for all social enterprises to generate their own profits to sustain their operations.

As a charitable venture, we are aiming to address the socio-economic disparity and the bridging of this divide. Doubtless, it needs to be funded and always this is not possible by the Charity discovering the funds through its own viable profit-generating activity. Not for profits of this nature who need sustenance, need to address the possibility of a regular income stream through a diversified donor base. If small sized donors are supporting along with larger donors from among Corporates or Foundations, that would make the charitable operation viable and strong. The aim is to persuade people of different sizes to contribute by giving them different options.

This strategy is akin to what happens in a commercial venture; Commercial enterprises practice diversification to expand their income streams – diverse product range, diverse focus groups and so on. Maximizing income streams is the paramount goal of commercial enterprises even as it is the primary objective of social ventures.

Our aim is to create leaders, technocrats and entrepreneurs in our state. This transformation requires nurturing from a very early age – a holistic programme with an equal thrust on the educational, nutritional, medical, emotional and psychological needs of the young. This needs resources; we are not oriented to creating an enterprise that can generate profits that could be applied to this task of building the young of his State. We need to do this by generating regular contributions from a stream of donors. The larger this numbers the better.

We have become a School only two years ago. Until then, we sponsored our children to another school and tried to supplement the effort of that school to help our children. There were multiple handicaps in this experiment. We are now able to keep our children for longer hours at the School and give them excellent attention and Learning. They are able to practice their interests in a range of activities from Chess to chemistry.

Our school has a multipronged approach towards achieving excellence. We have a comprehensive Teacher’s management programme aiming for high standards in imparting knowledge. This is a constant endeavour and teachers’ training effectiveness are monitored and gauged continually, corrective interventions undertaken for maximizing teaching competencies. An efficient school administration facilitates and ensures that excellence is maintained at all levels; it monitors the potential, performance and deliverance of objectives. An ideal class strength of 25 students ensures that each child is given due attention. A progressive learning programme gives exposure to our students on the latest theories and applications. In addition to this, participation in various competitions on a national and international scale bolsters confidence, broadens the horizons and reaffirms the resolve to scale heights.

Our strength lies in enabling disadvantaged children through comprehensive support, empowering them with quality education and launching them in a productive life. To this effect, we have been contemplating to maximize on to our competence which lies in the ability to run a good school and mentor children into adulthood. We wish to replicate our ‘Test Tube experiment at PYDS’ and build another model on these lines aiming at excellence and quality education. There is a pronounced need for quality education in our backward region and replication of our current set up aims to address this education deficit; education being a key to self-empowerment and progress.

Uttarakhand has recently been struck by a Himalayan Tsunami. The enormity of this tragedy has largely paralyzed life in the seriously affected districts of Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Pithoragarh. The official death toll has been over 5700, though the unofficial count is much more. Several thousand are still reported missing, without any clue to their whereabouts. The trauma induced by this disaster cannot be fathomed; our hearts go out to the devastated families.

Restoring normalcy and rehabilitation of the dispossessed victims is a long term commitment and requires a clearly charted path. PYDS disaster relief initiative aims to ‘adopt’ about 100 near orphans and 20 women who have been rendered homeless by the disaster.

The intention is to build a care centre for about a 100 girls in the age group of 6 – 7 years who have been left near orphans by this calamity. We shall also identify about 20 – 25 women who have been left helpless in this community to act as house mothers and helpers. The girls would be in our care for 12-13 years during which we will cater not only to their hygiene requirements of food and shelter but also their schooling, psychological healing and transition to normalized productive adulthood.

We shall undertake to care for these 100 children and provide them schooling support through the years so that they grow into young women capable of fending for themselves. We shall give all these children the type of quality education, health and nutrition support that we currently give our children at PYDS.

The house mothers would be trained by the SOS villages organisation (an independent non – governmental international development organization working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children) from Ghaziabad, to ensure that the women are equipped to handle and take care of these emotionally traumatized children. We also plan to engage psychologists’ volunteers to help erase the deep scars of losing loved ones mercilessly.

Apart from the care centre, we plan to build a school for these children in replicated in the model of our Day Boarding Program aiming at excellence and quality education.

All this is possible only if the Funds necessary for the purpose are assembled. Substantial funds would need to be raised for this vision to turn into a reality. Would reiterate that we need the support from large numbers, be it big or small. The project set up cost is estimated at Rs. 12crore (approx.).I would urge one and all, to write and indicate their wish to contribute and raise support for the realization of this dream. We on our part offer selfless service, transparency, integrity and honesty which are the only strengths that PYDS has as an organization.

Inspiring TRUE Story:

In 1987, a 74-year old rickshaw puller by the name of Bai Fangli came back to his hometown planning to retire from his backbreaking job. There, he saw children working in the fields because they were too poor to afford school fees.

Bai returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking a modest accommodation next to the railway station. He waited for clients 24 hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he found. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education.

In 2001, he drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last instalment of money. Nearly 90 years old, he told the students that he couldn’t work any more. All of the students and teachers were moved to tears.

In total, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies. In 2005, Bai passed away leaving behind an inspiring legacy.

If a rickshaw-puller who wore used clothes and had no education can support 300 children to go to school, imagine what you and I can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world!

Can charity sustain our mission?

The emphatic answer to this question is a resounding 'yes' and PYDS is proof that charity cannot merely help such initiatives survive but help them grow and prosper. But there are preconditions:-

The most fundamental is that the performance of the society must be worthy of respect and admiration. This will happen only if the service delivered to its beneficiaries is extraordinary and praiseworthy. Service delivery in a school is always tested through the quality of adulthood shaped out of the students.

This is not an easy call since excellence in outcomes depends as much on the efforts put in by the students and their parents as it does on the inputs given at school. They begin with a handicap of near illiteracy at home and the culture of regular study and learning does not exist in the community. A strong motivation to excel has to be created among the children and the parents have to appreciate that the children need to put in extraordinary efforts to outperform their economically advantaged counterparts. The work of the school is therefore not merely providing good inputs for learning but also motivating students into exceptional results. Here we are not talking merely of academics.

The outcomes of our efforts can become demonstrable only when we can help our children to think, comprehend, analyse and find solutions to problems on their own. We need to help build this confidence and this is no easy task. If we can do this to a large body of our pupils we will gain admiration and approval.

The other essential is the engendering of Trust among the Community in our purpose. While the donors in the community answer a call of their conscience and take steps to alleviate a crying need, the support that we get from donors becomes stronger when they witness the fulfilment of the purpose. What is important is to keep the faith and keep doing what is necessary for an honest, accountable and transparent manner. Keeping to the straight and narrow path is thus an essential prerequisite. The purity of purpose and selflessness of spirit can transcend every limitation. The rest is in the hands of the lord. In some sense, the insecurity that we suffer in the absence of a regular stream of income is good since it will keep us both wary and vigilant. Someone said that there are no atheists in Foxholes and we need to live in Foxholes to retain the faith!

Education necessarily demands long term horizons. Poverty, on the contrary, compels people to remain embedded in immediate or short term concerns. This is a dilemma since we deal with extremely poor people. Children and their parents need to plan for a distant future in which they can reap the fruits of education. By assuring children from the start, continuous support into the long term and much beyond the school, the Society has helped children dream into a bright future.

Hunger, illness and insecurity interrupt lives. The families of our children live with these unpredictable with a degree of regularity. On the other hand, accomplishment at school demands freedom from these anxieties. Unpredictability, everyday emergencies, sudden losses and traumas can torment and disturb learning and aspirations. While we have been unable to address this disability in its entirety, we have insulated the children who are our wards from this trauma to a degree by assuring clothing, freedom from hunger and illness. The children in our care are not only not malnourished but in fact healthy. We have however been unable to help the other members of their families.

Our children do not merely come to school and learn but do so in interactive and interesting ways. Children are helped to realize their potential while building healthy relationships.

We cannot now rest on our laurels. Many more are waiting for our help. It is true that the cost of running the current programme is rising and will become more expensive in the times to come. But, this challenge can be met if there are enough passion and commitment. We at PYDS are not only aware that we need to sustain our present operations but grow and make it available to a larger number.

The answer to the problem of sustainability is not the building of a corpus that can meet the School’s needs on a regular basis. Some reserves that can help us tide over a temporary cash crunch is in order.

The solution lies in finding and retaining small and large-sized donors. Sustaining their confidence and their loyalty is only possible through accomplishing excellence consistently and doing so with the utmost honesty. We need to constantly share our hopes, success and aspirations with them. Our strength will be in the goodwill that we enjoy and the several friends around us who are ready and willing to help. These strengths will remain as long as we deliver quality education to the poorest in the community and continue this care right through, up to their entering a professional career.

The Maharashtra Tour: Memories of the Students

“My first ever train trip.”

Siddharth Rawat, 9A

“Our noisy, fun-filled, beswar (off-key) singing, bus rides of 14 days in Maharashtra, was made possible by a generous donor. We even dedicated a song to him.”

Aditi Mamgain, 9B

“Was proud to be visiting the iconic academy at Khadakwasla. that prepares our defence services. Would love to be a part of this beautiful legacy.”

Laxman Singh Negi, 9A

“We breathed and felt nationalism when we visited the Aga Khan Palace and heard from an eye witness, about the incarceration of Mahatma Gandhi and the passing away of Kasturba in this Palace.”

Komal, 8B

“Awestruck by the amazing sculptures of Ellora. The beauty, symmetry and details will remain in my memory for a long time to come. How did they do this without machinery?”

Nikhil Thapli, 8A

“Experienced community service and kindness at every Gurudwara. A lifelong lesson to follow.”

Kashish Aswal, 8B

“Walked by selfless locals out of a road-less, dark, fearful passage after getting lost, coming out of Singhad Fort. An experiential lesson of our PYDS motto, ‘Life is for giving.’”

Anjali Dhiman, 8A

“Honoured to be the first school in 25 years, to visit Emerson Innovation Centre; seeing the different valves, I wanted to make my own in our Tinkering Lab.”

Anshit Mamgain, 9B

“Was great to see the power of faith, that draws people in their thousands to Shridi and the Siddi Vinayak Temple.”

Shivam Saklani, 11th Commerce

“Throughout the trip there were skills to pick up, of survival through collaboration. It began with entering crowded trains. We needed to coordinate, help, adjust, and be happy with friends.”

Rupali Chaudhary, 11th Science

“I enjoyed the cultural exchange and the experience of the local cuisine and language.”

Isha Batola, 9B

“I made lifelong friends from among my classmates and will long cherish the company of my teachers, who were great mentors.”

Naina Singh, 8A