Mary Anne Browne visited PPES in the Autumn of 2018….read about her experience and reflections here

“Transforming timid, under-valued girls into confident bilingual students”

Our head teacher, KK Sharma, judging the Diwali Rangoli competition (Left), and Nursery class learning about daily brushing of their teeth (Right)

One of the first things that stuck me about working at PPES is that it was a very familiar environment for anyone who works in a school! Fewer resources and more sunshine but I think the daily challenges and many of the highs and lows faced by the senior leader and his team are very similar to what teachers experience around the world.

One of the things that has really struck me about the project is what a huge challenge it is to feed 1400 children a nutritious diet on a limited budget every day. This sight really brought it home for me (and there is more than one sitting.)

This communality of experience means the school is able to really benefit from PPES’s international links and amazing professionals around the world.  Teach for America made a noticeable impact when they came to spend time training staff, and support from Caroline Rickard with primary maths, Pie Corbett, the British council and Cambridge English with English lessons and guidance from the senior leadership of schools including Downside, William Perkins, St Swithun’s and Alton 6th form college has been a great support in developing the school and our fantastic team there. We have explored lots of new teaching techniques as well as management and organisation tools.

Pictured left, One of our alumni, home on a visit from her computer science degree course in Delhi at Diwali.

The family of this alumni, faced a problem that is an issue for several of our families. Fellow villagers were negative about a girl going to study away to Delhi and gossiped about what might be going on in the city. They came up with a very neat solution, she and a friend are being chaperoned in Delhi by one of their grandmothers. I thought this was very ingenious and hope that she is having a great opportunity to do some exploring too.

The healthcare provided to the children and their communities is a big element of PPES’s work. Screening for the children picks up things from short sight and a need for glasses to a congenital heart problem that would have been life limiting if it hadn’t been picked up and fixed with surgery. The preventative medicine outreach programme provides education to all our communities and all sorts of things such as subsidised medicines and eye camps in collaboration with other medical services.

India is a country in fast transition where support for agricultural and business initiatives have to strike a balance between established practices and respecting the way of life in the villages. It is a challenging task and the team are rising to it with gusto, developing eCommerce and new products at the Ivillage, implementing intensive farming methods, and adding value to food by processing it on the farming side. We have had marvellous support from the BCVA and from the RVC over the last year and hope to develop those relationships.

I feel so privileged to be a supporter of this organisation, it gives me such faith in the power of education and the human spirit and I am looking forward to every single minute of the rest of my stay at the project. Come and see us – it is an incredible experience.

Lizzie describes how hungry and enthusiastic PPES students are as she rediscovers her teaching skills while volunteering at PPES

I’m Lizzie, I am a solicitor in London, specialising in employment law. In November 2018 I had a fantastic opportunity to spend two weeks at Pardada Pardadi Educational Society volunteering.
Although I arrived with several plans and projects, this is India and I quickly realised that my skills from my former life as a teacher of English literature were going to be useful – within hours of arriving I was working on essay planning and structure, and teaching spider plans, aka mind mapping, to several of the senior girls preparing for upcoming scholarship programmes.
Volunteering at the school means being prepared to be flexible and adaptable and to roll up your sleeves and just get on with what needs doing. So I spent my time primarily working with those girls to improve their exam and interview techniques. I found myself drawing on skills I hadn’t consciously realised I had to develop their thinking and presentational abilities – it was challenging and such great fun. I loved it.
I did manage to fulfil a couple of my projects, including presenting an assembly on the Global Goals, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with the support of my two wonderful translators Kalash and Rekha. We put up a display and shared the fantastic teaching resources available online – so I hope I was able to support and enhance the amazing work on human rights being done in the school and demonstrated everywhere, on every wall and in every classroom.
My abiding memory from my time is going to be of the intense, absorbed attention shown by the girls I taught – how interested, engaged, hungry they are for the opportunities and education offered to them. I worked closely with six girls in particular and I will never forget any of them, but in truth that intensity and hunger is evident everywhere within the school walls. Every girl I met reminded me what a special opportunity this school offers them.
My highlights? Seeing the impact a few simple organisational skills could have on the girls’ ability to present themselves – what a huge difference can be made so quickly. Going with one of my students to her home and meeting the mother who has made such a difference to her life by supporting her education. Watching the infants in the Diwali excitement. Having an honest question and answer session on my last afternoon – their questions were so incisive and perceptive. And the genuine affection that developed between these special young women and me – I felt very lucky indeed.
Volunteering at PPES is a privilege. I am so glad I had the chance to do it. I’d recommend it to anyone. I can’t wait to return.