Dasvandh Week continues now until November 20th. The Dasvandh Network (DVN) will add $100 to every new recurring donation that comes in during #DasvandhWeek. DVN is an online giving platform where donors and organizations can actively participate in the spirit of dasvandh, or giving 10% of your earnings of the betterment of society. There are over 60 Sikh organizations and projects on the platform you can donate to. Think your donation doesn’t make a difference? Continue reading to learn about a Kaur in Punjab who never would have gone to high school without your support.
by Anonymous Kaur
In the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Punjabi University in Patiala as an English instructor – a friend of mine had introduced me to a group of PhD students studying Sikhi who were interested in learning English. As a teacher, I had the summer off so I packed my bags and headed to Patiala.
At the time, my friends, filmmakers Manmeet Singh and Harpreet Kaur, were also in Punjab following up with families they filmed in “A Little Revolution”. I joined them on their visits and learned that many of the families they had interviewed were receiving funding from Baba Nanak Educational Society (BNES)’s Adopt a Family Program. Committed to the belief that they can empower families if children complete high school, BNES provides support to families where the main breadwinner (in some cases both mother and father) had committed suicide.
One of the key elements of this program is once donors “adopt a family,” they get regular updates via email with details and pictures of the family. Manmeet Singh, Harpreet Kaur, and I were following up on this process. My role was to get updates, check if families were receiving funds, and see if children were in school – all requirements of the program. During a trip to the village of Baopur (an hour from Patiala), my team and I met Rajwant Kaur and her family.
Rajwant grew up in a single parent household. Her father, unable to bear his incurred debt on his family, committed suicide. With limited funds, Rajwant’s family had been receiving aid from BNES for a number of years which allowed her and her brother stay in school. When I met her, she was 19 years old and had just completed her secondary education. Rajwant, who was very timid, spoke briefly about her love for school and how she felt grateful for the opportunity to finish high school.
This interview was very similar to the 50 others we had conducted that weekend. Through the updates we initially assumed thing were going well. But, as we were leaving, Rajwant’s mom broke down and asked for our help. “Rajwant, was first in her class, she loves school, and she wants to be a doctor,” she said. “She even got admission into a nursing school in Patiala.” She expressed her frustration about not being able to afford the nursing program and her nervousness about sending her to school, so far from home, and all alone. Since BNES only covers secondary education, Rajwant would not be able to ask them for further funding for nursing school.
Manmeet Singh suggested Rajwant apply for the Sikh Human Development Fund scholarship for higher education. She was the perfect candidate – driven and from a devoted Sikh family. Since I was volunteering at Punjabi University in Patiala, I ensured her mom that I would I help Rajwant navigate the city, help her get registered at school, and complete her SHDF scholarship paperwork. Within a week, we submitted her scholarship application, enrolled her in nursing school, and registered her for the scholarship test.
At the time I didn’t realize the impact of my actions. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to support Rajwant. It was her hard work and determination created the foundation for her success and I can’t take credit for that. Through the help of the Sikh Human Development Fund she was able to complete nursing school. Today, Rajwant is financially supporting her entire family.
Start a recurring donation for the Sikh Human Development Fund and/or the Baba Nanak Educational Society (BNES)’s Adopt a Family program by November 20, 2016 and the Dasvandh Network will boost your donation by $100 (some limitations apply).