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Two decades of promoting girl’s education in a village; Meet Virendra ‘Sam’ Singh

Virendra ‘Sam’ Singh

While we all complain about the feudal and patriarchal social structures that exist in the state of Uttar Pradesh, there is a man who is working in the direction of eradicating the problems from the roots. Meet the man who is making it possible through providing education to girls – Virendra ‘Sam’ Singh.

Sam was the CEO of the US-based company DuPont till he took early retirement only to come to his native place Anoopshahr located in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh. Belonging from a financially well-off family of landlords, Sam lived in the US for long forty years in DuPont in different roles.

He always wanted to do something for his society, but what ignited a spark in him was an event that happened in a board meeting. He stated that “One day I go to a board meeting and my CEO announces that we should have 30-second silence because in Sam’s country 600 people died last night, due to a completely avoidable train accident.”

He remembers this used to happen in almost every board meeting until he finally decides to come back home to do something about how things are managed here in India. At the time when he left the job, he was the head of DuPont South Asia.

As stated above, Anoopshahr, like any other district of the state of Uttar Pradesh is highly patriarchal society, a place where young girls are often deprived of basic primary schooling, forget about higher education. Consequently, Sam decided to open up his own school for girls as soon as he landed in India.

Patriarchy is not the only challenge that they had to face. Local people told him that opening up of a school without giving bribe was nearly impossible, Sam did it without even paying it a single penny. Establishing a school was again a challenge, from 2000 to 2004, it took almost four years to fully function the school, finally creating Pardada Pardadi Educational Society.

This was only the beginning; the real challenge began following the establishment of the school. It became really difficult for Sam and the school in convincing the parents to send their daughters to the school. While in the process of convincing the parents, they often used to get excuse substantiated on the questions like ‘what will she do after completing her studies?’

Sam believed in responding to these excuses through concrete steps and not just verbal. Since there were no industries in the area, he responded with installing one textile unit and teach vocational skills. Students who wish to learn skills, in the morning they attend the school and, in the evening, they learn skills in the industry.

Initially, the project was started with Sam’s own savings, at present the Axis Bank, Bharti Foundation, Ernst & young are some of the prominent sources of funding. In future, Sam believes that the profit from the industry would cover all the expenses that the school requires.

The school started with 45 girls out of which 31 dropped within a week, with such a disappointment the school team continued to work under the guidance of Sam. At present, more than 1,300 girls are enrolled in the school attending from a number of villages lying within 15 km radius of the school.

Today, a number of pass out girls from the school are working in some of the leading companies around the world or are abroad on scholarships. Most of them are independent, either working or pursuing higher studies.

Isn’t the story of Sam and Pardada Pardadi Educational Society inspiring? Let us know what do you think about it. Comment below!

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