The emphatic answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’ and PYDS is proof that charity cannot merely help such initiatives survive but help them grow and prosper. But there are preconditions:-
The most fundamental is that the performance of the society must be worthy of respect and admiration. This will happen only if the service delivered to its beneficiaries is extraordinary and praiseworthy. Service delivery in a school is always tested through the quality of adulthood shaped out of the students.
This is not an easy call since excellence in outcomes depends as much on the efforts put in by the students and their parents as it does on the inputs given at school. They begin with a handicap of near illiteracy at home and the culture of regular study and learning does not exist in the community. A strong motivation to excel has to be created among the children and the parents have to appreciate that the children need to put in extraordinary efforts to outperform their economically advantaged counterparts. The work of the school is therefore not merely providing good inputs for learning but also motivating students into exceptional results. Here we are not talking merely of academics.
The outcomes of our efforts can become demonstrable only when we can help our children to think, comprehend, analyse and find solutions to problems on their own. We need to help build this confidence and this is no easy task. If we can do this to a large body of our pupils we will gain admiration and approval.
The other essential is the engendering of Trust among the Community in our purpose. While the donors in the community answer a call of their conscience and take steps to alleviate a crying need, the support that we get from donors becomes stronger when they witness the fulfilment of the purpose. What is important is to keep the faith and keep doing what is necessary for an honest, accountable and transparent manner. Keeping to the straight and narrow path is thus an essential prerequisite. The purity of purpose and selflessness of spirit can transcend every limitation. The rest is in the hands of the lord. In some sense, the insecurity that we suffer in the absence of a regular stream of income is good since it will keep us both wary and vigilant. Someone said that there are no atheists in Foxholes and we need to live in Foxholes to retain the faith!
Education necessarily demands long term horizons. Poverty, on the contrary, compels people to remain embedded in immediate or short term concerns. This is a dilemma since we deal with extremely poor people. Children and their parents need to plan for a distant future in which they can reap the fruits of education. By assuring children from the start, continuous support into the long term and much beyond the school, the Society has helped children dream into a bright future.
Hunger, illness and insecurity interrupt lives. The families of our children live with these unpredictable with a degree of regularity. On the other hand, accomplishment at school demands freedom from these anxieties. Unpredictability, everyday emergencies, sudden losses and traumas can torment and disturb learning and aspirations. While we have been unable to address this disability in its entirety, we have insulated the children who are our wards from this trauma to a degree by assuring clothing, freedom from hunger and illness. The children in our care are not only not malnourished but in fact healthy. We have however been unable to help the other members of their families.
Our children do not merely come to school and learn but do so in interactive and interesting ways. Children are helped to realize their potential while building healthy relationships.
We cannot now rest on our laurels. Many more are waiting for our help. It is true that the cost of running the current programme is rising and will become more expensive in the times to come. But, this challenge can be met if there are enough passion and commitment. We at PYDS are not only aware that we need to sustain our present operations but grow and make it available to a larger number.
The answer to the problem of sustainability is not the building of a corpus that can meet the School’s needs on a regular basis. Some reserves that can help us tide over a temporary cash crunch is in order.
The solution lies in finding and retaining small and large-sized donors. Sustaining their confidence and their loyalty is only possible through accomplishing excellence consistently and doing so with the utmost honesty. We need to constantly share our hopes, success and aspirations with them. Our strength will be in the goodwill that we enjoy and the several friends around us who are ready and willing to help. These strengths will remain as long as we deliver quality education to the poorest in the community and continue this care right through, up to their entering a professional career.