KEEP Superstars Start College
Our first KEEP graduates are starting college this fall! Poonam and Resham Khatun have matriculated at Arvind Mahila College in Patna, a women’s college affiliated with Magadh University. Although their older sister was married at age nine, Poonam and Resham enrolled in KEEP’s program and are now among the first young women from their community to attend college. The sisters will study Economics, Sociology, Political Science, English and Hindi. Resham aspires to take her studies “very far” (pursue higher degrees) and Poonam plans to become a lawyer to fight for the rights of girls and women in her community.
With funds raised to date, KEEP will pay the tuition expenses (totaling $3,000) for Poonam and Resham this year. Moving forward, KEEP hopes to raise the additional monies needed to continue this crucial support for these ambitious and determined young women throughout their college years.
Runners Race for KEEP
The Running Goddess 5K on June 2 raised an amazing $4,000 for KEEP! 287 runners and walkers hit the trails of Lasdon Arboretum on a beautiful spring morning to race for fitness, fun and philanthropic goals. Running Goddess founder, Bettina Sementilli, and Race Director, Annie Bai, created this race to promote well-being, build community spirit and support the education of at-risk girls here and abroad. We are extremely grateful to The Running Goddess for such generosity and dedication to improving the lives of girls worldwide. Thank you to all the KEEP members who participated.
Apne Aap Wins Big in Huffington Post Contest
Thanks to the Running Goddess’ donation to Apne Aap on behalf of KEEP, Apne Aap finished among the top ten organizations in the Huffington Post’s RaiseForWomen Challenge. Collecting over $32,000 in donations in response to this challenge, Apne Aap won numerous prizes from the Huffington Post, including the opportunity to publicize Apne Aap’s efforts though Huff Post blogs, tweets and a front-page article.
JJHS Welcomes Students for KEEP
John Jay High School student Susannah Rogers, inspired by her pen-pal connection with the girls in Bihar, founded Students for KEEP in the summer of 2012. Last fall, Students for KEEP became an official club at John Jay High School to raise awareness of the issues affecting at-risk girls in India and help underwrite their education. The club brought in hundreds of dollars for the cause with their “KEEP the Change” fundraiser, placing canisters at local businesses to collect loose change. The club also presented a film, Born into Brothels, to the JJHS freshmen as part of a ninth grade debate on traditional gender roles around the world. For many, the event was eye-opening. Club members also fundraised with bake sales throughout the year and enjoyed participating in the Running Goddess 5K.
Susannah is now working on a project with Apne Aap Women Worldwide, creating a pamphlet that Apne Aap can distribute to younger children as a way of explaining the women’s movement in age-appropriate terms.
Apne’s Aap’s New Director Visits Katonah
In May, Apne Aap’s new Director, Abhilasha Kumari, visited Katonah to meet KEEP’s board members and provide an update on KEEP activities. Ms. Kumari, who joined Apne Aap in December, expressed deep gratitude for the many ways that KEEP is making a difference in the lives of girls in Bihar, India. She described the difficult and often dangerous job of outreach workers who enroll girls in KEEP’s educational programs. However, despite many challenges, the work is extremely rewarding: once out of the brothels, KEEP girls are escaping enforced prostitution and learning skills that will enable them to support themselves. The early success of this model has impressed Ms. Kumari, who hopes to develop similar projects in other Indian communities.
Girl Rising Raises Awareness
In March, KEEP hosted a reception following the screening of a new documentary film entitled Girl Rising in Bedford. This film tells the story of nine amazing girls from nine different countries who dream of attending school. In their struggle to rise above enormous obstacles, they draw upon deep reserves of courage and determination. Inspired by these girls’ stories, attendees gathered after the film at Erica’s Kitchen to enjoy wine and cheese and discuss the importance of supporting girls’ education throughout the world. Heartfelt thanks to all of you who joined us and especially to Erica Miller Wallace of Erica’s Kitchen for so graciously subsidizing this special event.
KEEP Meets Fundraising Goals
At the end of April, KEEP concluded its second year of successful fundraising. Thanks to all of you, we have raised $10,800 each year for the past two years to fund our educational program for 160 girls in Bihar, India. KEEP pen pals in Katonah and Bihar continue to write letters to each other, which provides a wonderful sense of connection. You all, as a community, have been incredibly supportive and generous in helping KEEP achieve its mission of keeping girls in school. As we move forward into our third year, we thank you for making this goal a reality.
The Running Goddess 5K raised $4,000 for KEEP, helping Apne Aap win the Huffington Post challenge and helping KEEP meet our annual fundraising goal.