A Closer Look at the Gift of Education

Helping the world come up, one child at a time

By Darlene Shura

Ashirbee

Making a difference in the world: it's what prompts many donors to sponsor a child's education through Aruna Partnership.

You can see the difference sponsorship makes in the following stories of two recent graduates of our Professional Training Program (PTP).

Zakir

Both students received financial support for their schooling from the time they were small children. Today, they are about to graduate with degrees in electronics and communications engineering. Both have been offered starting positions at Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest consulting firm - also recognized as one of the world's top employers for the third year in a row. These are plum jobs, won in a highly competitive field.

It takes only a few minutes of conversation with these bright young people to find out what excites them and gives them a sense of purpose. It's not just their personal career prospects. Both say they have been deeply touched by the support they have received through their school sponsors and the PTP program. It changed them, and made them want to help others as a thank-you for the help they have received.

Here are their stories.

Ashiribee

Ashiribee is a lively, confident young woman. She dreams that someday she herself will be able to sponsor a child who would not otherwise have a chance to get an education.

Ashirbee

She explains, "Based on my personal experience I know the difficulties that can stand in the way. In my culture, as a girl I should be getting married, having children. I'm here now only because of the support I've received through the School Sponsorship Program and PTP. I want to offer the same support to another child and give them the same opportunities I have had."

Ashirbee

Ashiribee comes from a very poor background. Illiterate themselves, her parents still encouraged their daughter to stay in school and work hard to succeed - even in the face of strong opposition from the rest of their extended family. "I'm the first in my family to get an education," says Ashiribee. "I told my parents I want to learn new things and to be part of society by helping others," she says.

Ashiribee adds her father gave her courage to go on - even though he himself had been denied an education.

"He encouraged me to work hard and show who I was and what I was made of," she recalls. So did her mother.

Ashiribee recalls, "Once when a project did not start well, my mother said to me 'Just trust yourself and have hope in God and he will always be with you.' That gave me more courage to keep trying."

Ashiribee credits the Professional Training Program (PTP) with preparing her to compete for a job with the best in the country - and win. "The help we received in developing our English and other soft skills made a huge difference. The program also gave me mentors who helped build my character and encouraged me to become more confident and more independent. I needed these skills to be able to grow as a person and compete successfully in the work."

"I want to say a deep thank-you to my sponsors and to everyone in PTP who made it possible for me to go on," she adds. "Without them - and without the blessings of Amma and Appa - I would not be here now."

Zakirhussain

Zakir

Spend some time with this spirited, self-assured young man and you'll quickly find yourself talking about everything from spiritual growth to the work of NASA and magnetic waves from outer space. But if you ask what has most shaped his life so far, Zakirhussain will tell you simply, "All the success I've had in my life until now are the blessings of Amma Appa, my parents and my godparents (school sponsors). I received a letter from my sponsors every year since I was a young boy and that meant a lot to me. For the past 15 years they helped me a lot and gave me so much advice and encouragement."

I would like to say to them, 'I miss you and I love you a lot.' I feel a deep gratitude to them from my heart."

That sense of gratitude has inspired Zakirhussain to look for ways he will be able to help out in the Professional Training Program after he graduates. He says, "One of the important lessons I learned through the program is that everyone is unique. Everyone has special gifts. Through the PTP alumni program, I hope I can help other students discover their unique talents. Through my words, I can help them feel how important they are." Zakir

He adds: "You can give someone the knowledge and technical skills they need for a career, but they have to believe in themselves. That can make all the difference in life."

Zakirhussain speaks enthusiastically about the various ways that PTP helped him grow as a person. His college helped him build his science and technical skills, but "the Professional Training Program enhanced my skills and helped me learn how to showcase what makes me unique. It also helped me to open my mind and learn to learn."

He says one of the most important things he learned is that there are 2 crucial days in life: the day you were born and the day you understand why you were born. What has he discovered so far about his purpose in life?

"It's not only about having an education and career success," he says. "It's about connecting with your soul, living with gratitude and giving back. I look forward to helping other students as I have been helped."

Ashirbee and Zakir