There’s nothing in this world that girls cannot accomplish together and the recently launched initiative, ‘Prerna – for you and us’ by young girls Saachi Ahuja and Ustatt Anand stands testament to the same.
A heartfelt project by these young girls aims to empower girls in the best way possible and as they say, education is the best way to empower.
Empowering With Education
During the pandemic, the traditional pedagogical methods of learning has changed drastically. There has been a paradigm shift from classroom learning to virtual learning. However, the luxury of virtual learning is still a distant dream for many.
This reality shook Saachi Ahuja, Ustatt Anand, Samridhi Verma, Tara Khanna and Divjot Kaur, students of classes XI and XII in Chandigarh, as they had an opportunity to chat with Karnail Kaur, a former teacher of Carmel Convent, who is now serving as the Principal of Green Field Public School in Nadiali, a village located on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
While providing a sneak-peek into the grim reality, Kaur shares, “There are countless number of students who are unable to access online classes for they don’t have smartphones or laptops, owing to lack of gadgets. Significantly there are gender-based inequalities when it comes to girls being given smartphones, tablets or laptops. The existing devices in the house usually goes to the male child, a result of the inherent patriarchal heritage of our country.”
The Road Less Travelled
Instead of lamenting about the system, the group decided to take the road less travelled and do something to ameliorate the situation for at least some of these girls in the villages near the city and launched the ‘Prerna – for you and us’ project.
Kaur enthusiastically welcomed the initiative to facilitate online classes for some girls who come from the delicately poised sections of society and for whom affording basic education itself is a concern.
“Before the pandemic, we used to go and teach at Green Fields Public School, in the outskirts of Chandigarh. But as things got worse due to the coronavirus, we couldn’t. However, we still felt the need to do something which would benefit and help the girls, so we decided to start ‘Prerna – for you and us’. Our project focuses primarily on the education of the underprivileged girls studying at the school,” explains Saachi Ahuja, a 11th standard student at Vivek High School.
The basic idea of the initiative is to set out to borrow gadgets that would be handed over to these girls and would be returned to the owners after the situation normalises and schools reopen. The strategy adopted by the group was to create awareness, borrow, not take or buy, and undertake minor repairs that may be required by pooling in financial resources.
“It is not just about the satisfaction that we feel, but also about the zeal that drives us to reach as many girls as possible. The super girls at Prerna intend to be the torchbearers of change and subdue various societal problems with the illuminating rays of hope, education, inspiration and awareness,” equips Ustatt Anand, a 12th standard student of Carmel Convent School.
So far, ‘Prerna – for you and us’ has managed to collect and hand over 12 different gadgets to Kaur, which are now being sent to the first few girls studying in Classes V to X, who are absolutely excited to work on their own laptop. Three girls from one family, who had no smartphone, now have a branded laptop and are absolutely ecstatic and excited about their classes.
Gayetri Nayar, a student of Ashoka University donated her laptop. She firmly believes that helping the needy is the basic thing we can do for others and it gives her immense satisfaction.
Many people, mostly students, who have come forward to lend their gadgets, have warmly requested the group not to take them back from the girls and let them use the devices to further their learning.
Converting Dreams into a Reality
Gurjeet Singh Dahri, the group’s mentor and counselor, who has also helped nurture this initiative says, “The tireless efforts that these young girls have put in to help girls in villages is commendable, as they have devised concrete plans to ensure that many girls will have the right to dream for a future that is born out of education.”
After the pandemic, ‘Prerna – for you and us’ hopes to focus on women and personal hygiene, importance of sanitary napkins and their hygienic disposal and also work on the distribution of these. “The group is planning to approach panchayats of various villages to encourage them to educate girls and also reach out to as many girls as possible in the months to come and work towards other areas that concern their education,” sums up Dahri.