New Delhi: Sam Singh, a 78-year-old former business tycoon, decided to give up his cushy lifestyle to transform the lives of more that 40,000 girls with a simple mantra - Rs 10 a day and a cycle in return for attending school.
Rs 10 a day for attending school, a cycle for a girl with 75 per cent school attendance and a toilet for the family when she turns 19 - that's the success mantra of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society.
Anoopshehar, a tiny hamlet of Uttar Pradesh, where no girl went to school until Sam Singh, a product of the same village returned to his roots in 1997. He opened the gates to a whole new world for more than 10,000 girls of Anoopshehar.
To achieve his goal, this former president of a multinational company came up with a monetary pitch for the parents, an offer they couldn't refuse.
Sam singh pays each girl Rs 10 to study and when she turns 21 a collective amount is given to the family members. "The girls are given cycles when they reach the 8th standard," Sam singn says.
What started with 45 girls 11 years ago, multiplied to a pool of 10,000. In addition to the cash incentive and academics, girls are given three nutritious meals a day, cooked and served by the school girls themselves.
The school needs Rs 10 lakh per month to keep running. So apart from putting in all that he had set aside for his retirement days, Sam tries to raise money through word of mouth and a network of friends from his corporate days. He also markets handicraft products made by girls who've dropped out of school.
At 78, Sam has begun to worry about what will happen to PPES after him. It's the ex-students of the school that he is banking on. As a tradition, each graduate plants a tree here - a symbol of commitment to transform a new generation of girls who will never be nameless entries in countless family trees.