Piali Ashar Alo is an educational center that was founded in February 2008 in the village of Piali, near the city of Kolkata.
Its name means “Light of Hope” because the chance for education brings hope to all of us and above all, to children who would otherwise have no opportunity for schooling.
Our school is intended exclusively for children who come from poor and broken families and whose parents therefore cannot enrol them into public school. Girls and boys who do not attend school perform house chores, take care of their younger siblings, work occasional jobs or just wander around.
It’s difficult for us to imagine the conditions these children live in. Many of our students have only one parent, others are orphans. Their homes are made of mud and covered with bamboo, plastic or rice thatch. They have no clean water and often no electricity. These children have never owned a toy – they play with pieces of wood, old dishes and perforated tires. Before coming to our school, they have never held a book or used a pencil crayon.
Our goal is to provide our students with the tools, opportunities and experiences that are the basic right of every child.
We strive to care for our students in as wholesome a manner as possible. They receive a basic education, studying fundamental subjects such as their native language, English, math, society/nature. Because we want to encourage their creative development, our children also draw, sing, dance and play games. Children with special needs receive more individual attention.
Our students receive two warm meals per day – breakfast and lunch. We provide medical assistance and a monthly hygiene package that includes all basic hygiene materials. Our school is completely free of charge – in addition to food and medical assistance, each student receives a uniform and all school supplies.
Because of the wide-reaching benefits educated women typically bring to their communities, we place a strong emphasis on the enrolment of girls. Each year of education above the average earns a woman 10-20% higher salary, 90% of which she will reinvest back into her family. Education is one of the most powerful tools in preventing human trafficking. It increases a girl’s self-awareness and economic opportunity, thereby reducing her risk of being trafficked.
Education saves lives.
Even one more year of education above the average can reduce infant mortality by 5-10%. Educated mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children. They tend to marry educated men, have the power to stand up against abuse and are likely to have fewer children. Education empowers a woman with self-awareness and economic opportunity, allowing her to raise literate children, contribute to the socio-economic development of her community and become a positive role model for others.
In our effort to become a light of hope for the wider Piali community, we also work to develop educational programmes that are of direct benefit to women. With the goal of providing women with practical skills and knowledge that would better enable them to earn a living, we organize sewing classes, hairdressing/beautician courses and shorter greeting card/jewellery workshops.
We wish to continue offering useful academic and practical training programmes – including adult literacy, mathematics and other practical knowledge. We are also eager to further develop professional training programmes that would enable women to more easily earn an income and provide them with access to microloans they need to start their own business.
Piali Ashar Alo school is the result of a years-long dream and hard work.
Hope is the light of our lives – regardless of our circumstances or how dark the path. In our school, we are all connected – children, parents, teachers, villagers, sponsors – we help each other and learn from each other. In this way, we weave a palette of hope and light for us all. Through our endeavours, we have planted the seed and it has sprouted. Help us make it grow into a beautiful flower. Please do not forget that these children have no possibility to free themselves of the poverty they were born into without our help. You can enrich the life of a child, invigorate the pulse of a community and make your own contribution to the reduction of global poverty by becoming a part of our story.