During 2014-15 Nishtha sponsored 12 students, 3 of them for the first time and 9 who continued their sponsorship from last year but then one dropped out. Seven are the children of single women and the rest come from very poor local families. Every year we engage these students in various activities through which they can develop their skills as well as improve their capabilities in handling a computer, cultural dance and singing, first aid, garbage management and sports, both for themselves and for the local children. Many of them have been very helpful in helping to run Nishtha programmes such as the dental camp.
Every Second Sunday, Mohinder (our Nishtha coordinator) holds a meeting with the students. Mohinder encourages feedback about the programmes we are running and their progress with their college courses. If they have any problems this is the time for them to talk about it and see what can be done to help them. This is the time when they receive their expenses for fees, books, stationary and travel for which they provide bills. A little pocket money is also given. Planning events and programmes for the coming month is also an important part of the meeting.
In computer class the students study according to their level. Those who have been attending classes for 2 or 3 years are now quite advanced and are familiar with working with the internet, and know how to make a free website, manage their e-mail and work with word, excel and power point. Those who are new start from the beginning, learning the basics using programmes such as paint and word as well as the typing tutor. It’s not easy for the students to catch everything quickly because they have only 4 classes in month but this adds up to 40-45 classes in year and with careful attention from the teacher they gradually gain confidence and proficiency.
Vijay Bhadwaj and Vandhana Sharma teach the folk culture program classes in which they learn traditional songs and dances. After intensive weekly classes throughout the winter we now have a properly trained dance group who performed spectacularly during Nishtha’s 20th Anniversary program, All the guests appreciated the dance and their traditional dress.
The students are very much involved in our Clean Village program, talk with their neighbours and friends about garbage segregation and bring sacks of soft plastic from their areas to Nishtha to be made into plastic bricks. Mohinder has introduced them to our organic farm and talks to them about the reason for and principals of organic agriculture. He shows them how to make organic manure for kitchen garden and fields and encourages those who have access to any land to practice organic farming themselves.
They use the Nishtha library for borrowing books, particularly the monthly publications General Knowledge and Competition Success. Many of them borrowed small dual language books and English grammar books to improve their English skills.
On 3rd May 2015 Nishtha organized a day hike to Triund along with Mohinder and Ravi. Ravi drove them to Galu Temple where the road ends and they walked from to the 10,000 foot high traditional picnic spot above McLeod Ganj. They enjoyed the day a lot! For some it was their first group trip out walking in the hills which was very exciting.
*Basu Dev has been sponsored since 2012, when he was in his first year studying for his BA. Now he is pursuing in second semester of his Masters degree in Public Administration. He likes every program provided by Nishtha but most of all the computer program. He is the best student in the computer class and knows a lot about the internet and making free webpages. He is studying for his final exams which will be held in April. Then he will be completing his course.
*Pooja Devi is in her final year of her BA. In the 2nd year exams she got second division. Pooja sings very well, especially traditional songs. She is much more interested in the cultural program than the computer class but she also enjoys the library and spends long hours there reading. Pooja is also completing her 3 year BA course in April.
*Pooja Sharma passed her second year exams in the second division and now she is in the final year of her BA. She is happy that she is able to operate the computer which she never expected to have the chance to do because in the government schools and college don’t have computers. She will also complete her BA in April.
Raman Deep, son of Radha, our single women co-ordinator has been a member of the sponsorship group since 2012, however he was sponsored privately as he studied for his Plus one and two exams in a private school. After doing a six month food craft training, he decided to so his BA and is now in the first year in the government college so qualifies for Nishtha UK sponsorship. Raman Deep is the most active student in the program whatever the activity: computer class, dance or any other program he is always fully engaged.
*Sakshi Sharma is one of the academically brightest students in our group. She is presently in the fourth semester of her Graduation in Arts. She says that before she became a member of Nishtha sponsorship group everybody appreciated her for her studious work but somehow she never felt at home with herself with that reputation. She naturally lacks of confidence and is shy to communicate but in the past two years she feels a tremendous change in her life. Now she is much more confident to speak out in seminars and say what she thinks to teachers and students. She thanks the Nishtha programme for this. She will be completing her BA and moving on after April.
*Rekha Devi, who is doing LLB from H.P University, has completed her fourth semester this year. She passed her third semester in the first division and is rapidly moving to realise her ambition to become a lawyer. She wants to be able to help the women, especially single women who she knows need legal help from seeing the problems faced by her own mother who is a single women. She is interested in learning the computer and in speaking English. In computer class her typing speed is the fastest of all the students. She is the eldest among them so she always helps the other students with their work. She completed her sponsorship with Nishtha in July 2015.
*Rajat Mehra is from nearby Yol village, in 2013 he came to Nishtha for a job, but when our administrator asked why he wanted a job at such a young age, when he had just passed his plus two, he told us that his father died in an accident two years ago. Although he had managed somehow to complete his plus two, his mother could not afford to pay for him to study in college. He jumped at the opportunity of joining Nishtha’s sponsorship group and is now in his third semester in IIT studying the electrical trade and doing very well. This year his expenses have been minimal but he has continued to be involved with the programme. He has now completed his course and is working.
*Sapna Devi joined the sponsorship group in 2012, when she was studying in the first year of her B.A. Her mother does labouring work to keep her family but she wants her three daughters to get a good education so they need not to have the hard life she has. They come from a remote village in the Shahpur area so the daily commute to Dharamshala College is not easy for her. She has to take three buses in each direction but her dedication and aspiration to complete her degree makes her strong. Nishtha is happy to be able to help her to achieve her dream with financial help and by providing her with important skills and the companionship of the group. Sapna completed her course in April 2015.
*Lovely has been a member of our sponsorship program since 2014 when she was in Plus two. Now she is in the first year of her BA. Her mother who is single has four children dependent on her small income therefore she was unwilling for Lovely to go to college, However, Lovely really wants to study and is very grateful to Nishtha, for making it possible. Lovely really enjoys learning to use a computers and has been learning typing and the basic programmes. Before this she had no knowledge about computers – she had never even touched one – but now she is happy that she can easily operate it knowing how important it is in this modern world. Lovely is also a very enthusiastic sports woman and particularly enjoys athletics. She hopes Nishtha will organize more sport programs from time to time. She also appreciates the library from where she borrows books to improve her general knowledge and stories. Lovely is now completing the second year of her BA so will remain with us for one more year.
*Kavita Chhetri is the daughter of a single women and has two younger sisters. She is studing in the second year of her Arts degree. She passed her first year with good marks and says that with Nishtha’s support her ambition to become teacher looks nearby. She likes reading so she borrows a lot of books from the library. Kavita is also completing the second year of her BA.
*Manish kumar is the son of Sunita Devi, Nishtha single women’s activist. In 2012 Nishtha sponsored his elder brother to do his plus two which he did so well he got admission in the government ITI. Manish just started this year. We sponsored his to complete his plus 2 and is now in his first year of his BA in college. His dream is to be a lawyer. His father died four year ago so even though his Mother works as an activist for Nishtha life has been tough for her sons. Manish is an asset to our group being active and enthusiastic in the dance, computer and environment programs. He says before this, he had a shy character but now he is dancing in public, sharing his views with others and aspiring for more knowledge. We look forward to having him with us for a further 2 years.
Rashav and Keshav were taken on as special case students in July 2015 when their father died suddenly making it difficult for the family to afford to keep the boys in college. They are both bright and very good sportsmen as well as being very interested and engaged with our programme. They will require sponsorship up until July when they take their final exams.
Aarzoo Ghai – started in August as a special case to complete his school exams in the Government school in Tang, Nawana. He is a very bright and enterprising boy who would like to become a lawyer so we expect to help fund his education for another 4 years.