Exemplary Education for the Underprivileged in India
Today, 33% of people in India live in urban areas compared to only 17% of people in 1960. Rapid urbanization in India results in increasing urban poverty and creates unique challenges across all of society. This is often most felt in terms of providing quality education, and UNESCO estimates a youth illiteracy rate of 14% in India. Along with this move towards cities, India has also seen increasing income inequality. This inequality feeds into, and is perpetuated by, unequal access to quality education.
It is the goal of the Lotus Petal Foundation, a registered charity in India, to enable children to create a brighter future for themselves through access to a quality education. Kushal Raj Charkravorty, the Founder of the Lotus Petal Foundation, explains that focusing on quality education “instantly translates to the belief that the child deserves the best. We believe that each child deserves a life of dignity and equal opportunities. We work every day in every aspect with this thought.”
Working to transform lives through education and the nurturing of the individual, the Lotus Petal Foundation operates on their core belief: “the intrinsic goodness of people.” That value shines through in education that focuses on skills development, nutritious meals, and free healthcare to the children living in poverty in urban areas who attend the Lotus Petal Foundation school. “Even the child who comes from an impoverished background deserves only the best environment,” asserts Mr. Charkravorty.
The Lotus Petal Foundation provides continuous, quality education to the children they serve. Their teacher to student ratio was already at an impressive 1:20 and has now been improved to 1:12. They also increased the number of children attending their schools from 300 in 2017 to over 400 in just year—and at the time of writing, they are serving 415 students. Access to this education has additional benefits, as the students of the Lotus Petal foundation school have seen not only educational gains but also improvements in their health. There was a 33% increase in students with a healthy body mass index from 2017 to 2018.
As students learn and grow, they may grow to serve others. Saloni Raj was the very first student of the Lotus Petal foundation and serves as a special example of the foundation’s desire to see their students’ success. Saloni had the dream of becoming a doctor. This meant she needed specialized training for medical school entrance exams and the funds to register for the exams, travel for interviews with various institutions, and for application fees to medical schools. “We have certain individuals and corporate sponsors who were contributing to the designated pool for the education of each child,” Mr. Charkravorty explains. “What Saloni needed was over and above.” After drawing attention to the special case, many of the Lotus Petal Foundation’s donors abroad were eager to support her efforts: “Most were overseas, and were able to send their contributions seamlessly through our Friends Fund.” With the support from the Lotus Petal Foundation and their generous donors, Saloni cleared her entrance exams while competing with students coming from much wealthier backgrounds who had attended expensive private schools.
Having a Friends Fund with CAF America has allowed the Lotus Petal Foundation to receive dependable support for their efforts. Says Mr. Charkravotry: “Our association with CAF America gave us the ease to operate in a foreign land without even having a physical presence [there]. It also gave us credibility. The ease and transparency of operations with CAF America gave us the confidence to reach out to more individuals and organizations in the United States.” The donations made to the Friends Fund go to providing staff salaries, ensuring that they have classroom space, and covering operational expenses such as utilities and medical treatments for students.
The Lotus Petal Foundation’s core belief in the goodness of each person radiates from their school and manifests in each child they support. Through the generous support of CAF America donors who contribute to the Lotus Petal’s Friends Fund, even the most disadvantaged children can receive a quality education and pursue their dreams.
To learn more about opening a friends fund with CAF America, click here.
To learn more about the challenges for American donors who wish to give to India, and how CAF America can help, click here.