During my stay here I had the opportunity to meet with Anamara Baig from Pratham, an NGO that focuses on bringing quality education to rural and urban children of India and to ensure that there is visible improvement in enrollment and learning levels. I have been following the work of Pratham for some time while developing and forming EEI. One of my goals for this trip to India is to make as many local connections as possible with established NGO’s that have similar mission, goals, and values as EEI. I decided to contact Pratham to arrange for an appointment with a representative and discuss each organization. I received a rather quick reply, even by India standards, and thus looked forward to my chat with Anamara.
Now, getting from point A to point B in India, and especially Mumbai, takes some rather skilled planning and timing. Even then, be prepared for anything to get in your way and your plans falling apart. I hired a driver to take me to Colaba, where Pratham is located, and planned for a two hour ordeal. Well, it took nearly three hours and I was also an hour late for my meeting due to my driver needing directions from locals in the area. Mumbai is so big and always growing that not everyone can know all the nooks and crannies. At this point, my patience was being tested. When I finally arrived at Pratham, it was pouring rain. Getting into the building proved challenging as it is a government building and security wanted to check my bags. As I was planning to catch a train out of Mumbai after my meeting I brought all my belongings with me.
After navigating my way into the building with everyone staring at me wondering who this foreigner was, I found Pratham and met with Anamara. We sat in her office and I introduced myself and gave a background as to why I started EEI and the reason for my visit to India. We talked about the state of girls’ education in India, the risks for dropping out of school, gender discrimination and violence against women, and government corruption. I was advised by her to find an NGO that EEI can form a relationship and use as a way to secure the transfer of funds that will pay for a students’ education. Because there is often corruption within the school systems money does not always get to where it’s supposed to go. Of course, I am already aware of this, and I believe that this will be the most challenging part of the setup. However, I do feel confident that with the connections I already have and the new ones that I am making, I will eventually be successful.
After leaving Pratham, I hailed a taxi (yes, it was still pouring rain!) and went to the main train station, Victoria Terminus. My jaw dropped upon arrival---hundreds of people were at the station! I was a bit intimidated and even more curious as to what in the world was going on! Dogs, naked children, vendors, and people scattered about. I soaked it all in, and once I gained a sense of my environment and reality, I explored a little of the trains and platforms, and then took a seat and waited for my train. It arrived on time, thankfully, and I boarded safely.
Now I have been in India for nearly two weeks. So much happens in a day it feels like I have lost all track of time and have spent two months here. It’s hard to keep up on the news at home, but frankly I don’t mind it. Thank you for reading this and following my travels and work in India. I look forward to posting more about my upcoming meeting with the NGO in Pune and in Rajgurunagar, where I am currently living.
For more information regarding Pratham, please visit www.pratham.org
All the best,