Parvati Shah

Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS)

An endearing, bright and bubbly spark of life, Parvati has been a student at PYDS since 2014. Currently, in the ninth standard, she loves physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and thoroughly enjoys coding. Unlike most children though, she has had to face insurmountable odds to get here – Parvati is a first-generation learner and her road to education has been fraught with difficulties.

Eight years ago, Parvati lost her mother at the age of five when severe floods destroyed her remote village in Uttarkashi. Even before the disaster, education was a very low priority for the families in the area. Children were often kept at home to work and educational facilities were far off and irregular at best. However, even that security was lost when Parvati’s mother got sick and passed away following the calamitous flood. Faced with increasing mistreatment from her father, Parvati and her siblings ran away and lived on the streets. They earned a meagre income for food by picking and selling rags and scraps.

When she came to PYDS in 2014 at the age of seven, Parvati found the transition to mainstream education difficult. Troubled and traumatized, she refused to speak to anyone when she first joined our program. She also struggled with foundational subjects, especially Mathematics and English. However, PYDS teachers supported her throughout and enrolled her in a bridge course based on activity-based learning strategies. Parvati began to work hard, and in one year, she was at the top of her class in English. Within two years, she was at the top of her class in all the subjects!

She shares, “Our entire life has changed after coming to PYDS. Before joining PYDS, life was full of struggles and hardships. My sister and I used to work in the fields and do house chores. We had no source of income as we all were too young to work. Many times, we had to sleep empty stomach and we could do nothing about it. At PYDS, we found shelter over our heads. Here we have food, clothes, friends and role models. Here I have many opportunities and privileges. After coming here, I am able to speak in English and stand in front of many people as PYDS gave me confidence and a different perspective to see the world. I got many opportunities like sports facilities, learning about computers and e-lab facilities to search and study.”

During the last 18 months of COVID-19 lockdown, Parvatipicked up block coding in the Atal Tinkering Lab at PYDS, which was set up under the Atal Innovation Mission and aims to give young children a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand different aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. “During the lockdown, I was staying on campus. I learnt block coding in Tinkering, woodwork, even built a birdhouse and painted it myself. Every Saturday we used to have a nature walk. I had a great time with my mentors and friends and I never felt bored. PYDS has taught me many things and moral values. It has made me a responsible person – here I learned teamwork and how to appreciate efforts and contributions by others.”

Parvati’s dream for the future is to become a doctor and work in rural areas where health care is lacking. “I want to be a good human being and a person who can help others. I admire working for the welfare of people as it changed my life. My mother died because of a lack of good medical facilities. But when she was in the hospital, it was the first time I saw doctors working to save lives and that inspires me. In many ways, PYDS saved my life and when I grow up I want to do the same. I want to help people so they can have a chance at life too. And I want to tell other children out there to not be scared of anything. They must look for opportunities that come their way – even if it seems difficult in the start, embrace these opportunities and go forward all the way!”