Professors fight poverty with pennies
Pennies for Education and Health, a non-profit organization founded by Bauer professors Basheer and Saleha Khumala that provides education and healthcare aid in developing countries, celebrated its decade-long battle against poverty last month in Ahmedabad, India.
Basheer and Saleha, who both grew up in Ahmedabad, visited the area after the Gujarat earthquake in 2003. The two described the devastation as mind-boggling, which inspired them to create PEH and help the people affected.
“There were evacuees everywhere, and then their kids,” Basheer said. “So rather than simply going through the channels of schools or parents, the idea (for PEH) came from saying ‘Can we do something more personal, so that we can connect with the child also?'”
PEH matches students with sponsors whose donations provide the child with school supplies and other needs related to their education. Donations to PEH also help to support several healthcare facilities in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab, India.
“There is an entire family where the father is a wage earner living on less than $2 a day, so then where do you have the money to send the children to school?” Saleha said. “When you’re poor, demand for money is in so many places, and that’s where we pickup. The only way to get the families uplifted is to make sure that the kids go to school and then you can better tackle all the other issues of life.”
The organization has made great strides when it comes to educating students. When PEH began in 2003, the organization sponsored 40 students. That number has now grown to 1,400 students.
Additionally, PEH not only works to educate students abroad, but also gives UH students the opportunity to learn about running a non-profit organization first hand. The organization is mostly run by UH faculty and students, the entirety of the money donated goes directly for children’s education.
“I was once told that there is no man so poor that he cannot give a gift and no man so rich that he cannot accept one,” Saleha said. “These kids have been supported even by those who are poor but understand the value of a good education.”