Curtin Volunteers’ Sian White decided to take her lifelong love of helping people to a new level, by taking it upon herself to build a new girls school in the small village of Sardargarh in India’s north-west
The 23-year-old was made aware of the girls’ plight when she went on holiday and visited a family friend who lives in the village. Knowing Sardargarh was quite a poor village; Sian used her fundraising skills to raise $4, 000 before the trip. Upon her arrival, people in the community were asked for ideas on how to spend the money.
‘A few people suggested building a cricket stadium,’ Sian laughs.
‘But at the end of the day most people thought a school for the girls would be most useful.’
The girls are currently forced to go to school in a 200 year old building with bedroom-sized classrooms, which isn’t safe to even enter during India’s monsoonal season.
‘The girls aren’t allowed inside for most of the year, they’re worried it’s just going to collapse,’ Sian says.
‘So I don’t really know how that works, sitting in the dirt with no books, no pens, no seats, no desks. How do you study? So the plan is to knock down that building and build six new classrooms with very basic but very solid materials.’
While Sian says she didn’t go to India with any plans of building a whole school, when she looked at the situation she realised it was feasible for her to raise money and then return to Sardargarh to organise the project.
After writing hundreds of letters to Australian and Indian businesses requesting donations and applying for various grants, Sian will head to the sub-continent with $24, 000 raised in the past year. There is also the possibility of another $20, 000 on the way from a matching grant through Rotary Australia.
The money raised will also provide new toilets for students and staff to replace the current toilet, which has no doors and consists of a hole which runs into the courtyard. There are also plans to build a well.
Sian will return to the village in late-March for a month-long stay to oversee the project, taking stationary donated by generous Curtin students and staff with her.
‘The response has been overwhelming, I’ve been flooded with calls and emails,’ she said.
‘A big thank you to all who donated!’