Last month, Bruce & Jane Howard and Christel Chesney spent a couple of weeks at the Piyali Learning Center in the rural village of Piyali Junction outside Kolkata. Jane told us that Deepa Biswas grew up in Calcutta in a fairly
affluent family. She would see children begging and asked why. She vowed, after college she would come back and help. When Bruce and Jane first met Deepa in 2004, she told them she was starting a school in Piyali for girls who
had no access to education. She partnered with the Rotary Club of Calcutta and started with just 20 girls.

In 2010, Deepa was able to secure a new property that was much larger but it was on a swamp. They brought in dirt to fill in the swamp and built a wall around the property to pro- tect the girls. The new school is a far cry from the original one and includes an organic garden, chicken coop, and a vo- cational training center for the mothers of the students. Our club helped build a sewer plant so the school has flush toi- lets and we currently support 6 girls. The cost of sponsoring a girl for an entire year is only $375. To sponsor a mother to attend vocational training, the cost for a year is $175. Checks can be mailed to PACE Universal                          1 North Calle Cesar Chavez, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Jane was very proud to tell us that, after her father’s death, her mom donated money to the school and there is now a classroom named in his honor.  Christel told us that she had never seen such poverty and filth that she saw while traveling from the hotel to .              the school. They were only 40 miles away but it took
them 2 hours to travel the 40 miles. She said the first 3 days, her heart was broken. They were staying in a 5 star hotel sur- rounded by poverty. There were vegetable carts covered with flies, a pond filled with algae where women were washing clothes and doing dishes while a man was bathing and another urinating in the pond. They visited homes that were hovels with dirt floors, no electricity or plumbing. The school, in contrast, was an oasis. The girls in India have dreams and aspirations but, by the time they reach 4th grade, they are pulled out of school to help with chores. Every 9 minutes a child in India disappears.

Bruce told us about a visit to Mahavir Seva Sadan, a Vocational Training Center in Kolkata. They provide prosthetics for those who need them because of lost limbs or birth defects, eye care and support and training for Cerebral Palsy vic- tims. This is a project that the local Rotary Club supports.

You can learn more about the Piyali Learning Center at