Hi! I'm Lipi Gupta.

I had an adventure this summer in Agra, India trying to make a difference in the lives of 35 young women of Nagla Kharga Village. I'd like to share my experience with you; I hope their stories move you as much as they have inspired me! Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me [by posting a comment/question] if I can be of assistance in any way, in a similar endeavor of yours!

Project SHAKTI was funded as one of 2009's 100 Projects for Peace.

Project SHAKTI Overview

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Selected Participant Biographies

  • Neelum was the 1st participant, out of all the 36 dropouts constituting Program SHAKTI to admit herself into school, saying that she wants to graduate from college and realize her dreams. This brave young woman fasted for 2 days to convince her parents how important school had become to her.
  • Varsha, a quiet, imaginative 10 year old admitted herself into school saying she really wants to be something after watching the Girl Stars. As she stood totally independently requesting admission from the headmaster, with her head barely above his desk, her quiet strength struck me.
  • Urmilla and Kusma also readmitted themselves into school and have high hopes to continue studying, at least upto high school.
  • Preeti and Krishna are about to do the same now that they have re-taught themselves Hindi.
  • Praveen joined High School in Tundla where her brother has been going. She has not been going to school for 5 years after her marriage. She dreams to lead and help other girls.
  • Khushbu, a vivacious 10 year old girl stopped going to school when her parents died. I persuaded her and her eldest brother that they should not delay in enrolling her, despite the fact that they are still reeling from their parents’ deaths. Going to school was her desire; and she is now happy to be studying.  
  • Vinita will enroll in high school despite family circumstances that she before thought were insurmountable.
  • Beenesh, who has never attended school has been steadily learning Hindi from another participant, Pinky.
  • Sonum started beautician and machine sewing training.  
  • Sumun, Beenesh, Babina, Guddi, and Praveen were most dedicated to teaching sewing; and Renu, Rachna, Pinky, Khushbu, Krishna, and Yogaish were most dedicated to learning sewing. Yogaish beams with pride when talking about her rapid growth. Before our program, she never even made one stitch, and now she sews garments for family members and teaches other girls how to sew. She had never made rakhis (traditional Indian bracelets sisters tie to their brothers in an endearing ceremony to maintain their and celebrate their bond), and now she sells them in the village! I think the motivational message and creativity-encouraging aspects of our program particularly helped her because she as well as her family members often spoke of her being “dull” in studies and idle in general. But, our program awakened Yogaish to her strengths and incited in her a keen interest in pursuing them.
  • Every girl now can speak in front of larger groups, adults, and her peers in a tremendously more self-confident manner. All girls are much more well-mannered and better versed in general personal care habits (i.e. washing hands, wearing slippers rather than going barefoot and exposing themselves to foot parasites) and positive values (such as the golden rule, not littering, etc).

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