In 2007, Gopal and Darlene started a program of educational support for children from low income families by offering scholarships at the SDSE High School, in Patiala, Punjab, India. All of the children, with a B average or higher, are from families with income of less than $100 per month. The scholarship program includes school fees, books, stationary, uniforms, and incidental expenses. They work with the school principal, teachers, parents, and the students to ensure a well structured support program. For the students who qualify for college/university admission, the scholarship program covers them to college graduation.
The average cost to support one child’s education in high school is $225/year and for college $450/year. With this support, they know their lives, and the lives of their families, are changing forever. When you help a deserving student, your life changes as well.
In 2007, we met Narinder, Krishan, and our first girl, Rashmi. Together they formed the first of our scholarship group of amazing kids. Today in 2013, there are 25 very bright and dedicated boys and girls studying to maintain a B plus average, which is required for the scholarship program, in both high school and college.
All our students being from low income families would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to afford college after high school. Our scholarship kids continue to exceed everyone’s expectations. In 2012, Narinder was selected as one of only120 students from a field of 10,000 applicants into the Masters of Computer Analysis program at the prestigious Thapar University in Patiala. Krishan is in his senior year at Punjab University and has won his second university scholarship, and Rashmi graduated with an accounting degree and will be a Charter Accountant (equivalent to our CPA) in May of 2014.
Together with a small group of Thapar alumni, including Amit and Varun of AKSH, donations from my dear friend J. Malhotra, and generous fellow Rotarians, the scholarship program covers the students’ high school and college fees, books and uniforms, including transportation.
At the start of the program, our sponsored children did not know how to turn a computer on. They had never visited museums, libraries or other learning centers. Now, they send us e-mails and talk about one day coming to see us here in California.
In 1998 Gopal and Darlene got involved in the support of the Girls’ Orphanage in Patiala, Punjab, India. They visit Patiala every winter for about two months and actively work on helping improve the education, health, and nutrition of 35 to 40 girls. It was a long struggle to get things put on the right track, but now, as the girls graduate from high school, most are going to college or computer training. One of the girls, Gurpreet, won individual 2nd prize in the national softball games in Chennai.