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A new direction towards education

2018-01-25         Swara Ramaswamy

The Parikrma Humanity Foundation in India is dedicated to serving underprivileged children. They have established four schools at different locations, offering K-12 education for 1,300 children from 53 slums and 5 orphanages. In addition, they provide 3 nutritious meals for their children, healthcare, and social programs. Parikrma’s goal is to lower the dropout rate for high schoolers in India. They want to provide the poorest of slums in India with equal opportunities for success. This foundation is one of many that have started recently in countries where education isn’t readily available to everyone. This goal is common throughout many areas of the world, and the initiative of providing every child with equal education is quickly being implemented everywhere. After being introduced to the mission of Parikrma, I decided to implement my knowledge and experience to contribute to this cause in any way I could. Over the years, I have made steps towards providing ways to help these kids further their education. While on my trip to India this past summer and during the fall of 2013, I had the chance to spend time with the children while volunteering at Parikrma. During the time that I was there, I came to realize the hardships that these children go through in their daily lives. Each child’s background, home life, and family situations were different and difficult to imagine. Despite these troubles, each and every child was eager to learn and grasp every opportunity to expand their knowledge. Through the experiences I had with these children, I understand the value of education, and how people from every corner of the world deserve the best chance at a bright future that they can have.

In the June of 2013, I conducted a book drive at my school for the school in Bangalore, where over 200 slightly used books were donated for this school. I organized a school supply drive as well, where we were able to provide school supplies to over 300 children. In the next few months, I started video call sessions with the 3rd and 4th grade children in India via Google Hangouts. I provide them with exposure to things that these kids would otherwise not learn. In one-hour sessions, I give these children insight to many different subjects, such as famous people, famous holidays, and interesting information about the U.S.A. Some of my classmates had an interest in working with the kids as well. I took the opportunity to have these classmates participate in the video calls along with me, so I could provide an enriching experience, and expose them to different perspectives and different interests. The children from Parikrma learned a lot of new information about many important people, like Rosa Parks, Barack Obama and George Washington. After learning a little about someone new to them, the students talked about an acclaimed person that they already knew about. As a result, I learned quite a lot about Mahatma Gandhi and Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Peace prize winner in 2014 along with Malala Yousafzai. The students put together a museum about all the new people that they had learned about. In the museum, the kids created a myriad of interesting posters and diagrams about people like Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr, and Abraham Lincoln. I received many photos and videos updating me on their progress with this museum.

Along with providing new forms of learning for these children, I was also recognized as one of the regional winners by the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program, and received a $1,000 scholarship from the program, because of the work I had done with the children from Parikrma. Over the course of the four years that I have been working with these children, I am glad that I have not only been able to provide them with new knowledge, but that I have learned much from them as well. These kids have truly opened my eyes to the value of higher learning, human kindness, and what it means to be a good citizen. The stories of the children from the Parikrma Humanity Foundation should impact decisions about providing education to every child. I am sure that the future of our world will be positively affected by the bright minds of these children, and their contributions will have been made possible by the education that they were able to receive. As Nelson Mandela has famously stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Our priority for children everywhere must be to provide them with the highest level of education, so that we can groom the bright minds of the world into powerful new leaders of the future.  

Swara is a 15 year old sophomore at Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough, New Jersey. She can be reached at shubhashreekumar@gmail.com. Her work with the Parikrma Humanity Foundation is what inspired her to write this article for Hillsborough Newsletter




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