Lavanya is a girl from a poor family in rural India. Her father passed away when she was in fifth grade and her mother, who was an illiterate, took up an hourly job to support the family. However, it was insufficient and Lavanya’s mother decided to pull her from school to cut down the following costs associated with education: opportunity cost, travel cost, cost of school uniforms and other daily expenses. Unfortunately, this is the plight for many young boys and girls who are forced to give up education for various reasons. Research and statistical data suggest that children from lower income levels are exposed to higher risk of not attending school or dropping out of school along the way. The dropout rate is about 40% in rural areas.
This problem is of national significance; it is critical for every child to be educated irrespective of socio-economic background. Bighelp is one organization that focuses primarily on underprivileged children in rural areas and empowers children, such as Lavanya, to experience an education that will allow them to live life to their fullest capacity. Bighelp was founded in Boston by Mr. Shaik Chand Pasha. He studied at government schools in India and has seen many cases of drop outs, child marriages, and schools without basic amenities, such as toilets for the girls. The idea of Bighelp sprouted through this experience. Every time Bighelp witnesses a new case of an underprivileged child, the vision and the passion become stronger and stronger to address the root of the problem: a lack of education.
Bighelp does not want to reinvent the wheel but to leverage the existing education system and collaborate with the right stakeholders involved in this cause. Bighelp empowers children attending government education system by providing incentives to continue schooling, honoring meritorious students, and providing basic facilities in schools. Bighelp has chapters across the United States, an office in Hyderabad, and project committees in every school we operate in. The committees have direct contact with the children almost on a daily basis to address their issues at a personal level. Few of the programs are described in detail below:
Sponsor a child: As part of this program, every child who needs help gets basic amenities such as uniforms, shoes, stationary, rice & dal, and bathing bars on a periodic basis. Bighelp constantly monitors attendance and academic performance to ensure that the child is on track and deserves the help and attention from Bighelp. As of December, 2013, there are 580 children who benefit from this program.
Adopt a School: As part of this program, Bighelp strives to strengthen Government schools in rural areas by providing infrastructure support (libraries, desks and chairs, compound walls, computers etc). This support helps to improve student enrolment and retention, to incorporate good teaching and learning techniques in government schools, and to ensure that children are motivated to attend school. As of December, 2013, more than 9000 children benefit from this program.
Merit Awards: The objective of Merit Awards program is to create a healthy, competitive spirit among children and honor meritorious children studying in different schools located in a selected region. This program inspires children to do their best and rewards them respectively regardless of their school, gender, class, race, religion, financial situation, or disability.
Special Needs: The objective of Special Needs program is to support schools that cater to the needs of physically or mentally challenged children. Support from Bighelp enables the schools to ensure that the children get the care, attention, and the tools they need.
In addition to the above, Bighelp organizes medical camps and sports competitions to ensure that children are physically healthy and to foster a competitive spirit amongst the children.
The above programs are made possible through passionate leadership, our incredible team of donors, volunteers, employees, the commitment to education, and a strong emphasis on quality over quantity.
Lavanya, through an intervention from Bighelp, is able to continue her education in order that she may break the crippling cycle of poverty.
About Author :
Board of Directors, Bighelp
Bighelp is a registered non-profit organization with offices in United States and India that focuses primarily on underprivileged children in rural areas and empowers children.