September was a very special month for us. First, we received all the grades and news from Prachi, Prerana, and Apurva, our girls in India. They are all doing wonderfully in school, and in their extracurricular activities. Please see their pages for new updates, photos and, in the case of Prerana, some new recordings. We couldn’t be prouder of them. They are all working very hard, and we are so glad that we are able to help them with things beyond school as well as their academic performance.
In the middle of the month, Christa was able to travel for one day to Berkeley, California to meet our contact from India, Aarti Naik. This was a very special event. Aarti and her friends in the United States had been trying for years to obtain a visa for her. She was finally awarded a travel visa, and her friends at Citizen Angel set about making it happen. But it wasn’t only for a visit. Aarti was in the Bay Area to present her story and to receive an award for her work helping dozens of girls from her slum learn, grow, and succeed.
It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, so Christa flew out to the Bay Area to meet Aarti and the woman who put us in contact, CJ Hayden. Christa attended Aarti’s presentation on the Berkeley campus, and learned more about this extraordinary woman.
Christa also got a little clarity on how school in India works. At the end of 10th Standard (roughly 10th grade), students must take a big state exam. If a student doesn’t pass, she can study and try again, but she can’t go on until she passes. If she passes, she moves on to 11th and 12th Standard, what they call “junior college.” It is here that a student must begin to narrow her focus to one of three different areas, so that she can pick the proper college: sciences, commerce, or art. Each of these larger “subject” matters encompasses many careers, but a student will go to a different college for a different subject area. So that means Apurva, who just started 9th Standard, has a big two years ahead of her.
Christa and Aarti were able to meet over lunch and chat a little (click to enlarge)
The “Tell Her Story” event was the first of its kind from the Department of South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, highlighting women making change. The three finalists worked in India and Pakistan (click to enlarge)
Aarti gave a wonderful presentation about her organization, Sakhi for Girls Education (click to enlarge)
Although she didn’t win the grand prize, Aarti said she felt like a winner as one of the finalists (click to enlarge)
Christa, Aarti, and CJ Hayden, who introduced us to Aarti in the first place, and helps run an organization called Citizen Angel (click to enlarge)