Anup waited for us up at the airport, we grabbed a cab and headed towards the suburbs of Kolkata. After a day of rest Urška and I took the local train to Piali, a village where Anup and Mojca Gayen founded a school for the unprivileged girls – Ashar Alo educational centre.


Ashar Alo, Piali 

I have never truly understood the meaning of education, but then again, I am someone whose schooling has always been granted – all the way to the University. As the generation Y kid, it was predetermined I will attain and nonnegotiable gain an academic profession. And I did, without asking myself why. 


For the Ashar Alo girls, school is a privilege and a challenge – how long will they be keep coming back to the classes? Keeping them behind the desks literally means demolishing a deeply-rooted traditional role of a rural woman who has been caught up in poverty for centuries.

A decade ago 80% of the rural girls did not go to school,” explains Anup.


“Each girl attending a school matters as she influences generations to come.”

Girls’ education has an impact on the future of young women, their families and their entire community.

Educated girls:

  • Have a higher level of self-awareness and stronger decision-making skills.
  • Put more focus on the health of the entire family.


  • Gain more economic power and a higher salary; statistically they reinvest 90% of the salary back into the family.
  • Tend to marry later and have smaller families (which they can take care of).
  • Are more likely to recognise abuse and stand up against it.
  • Inspire and empower other girls.


Knowledge is the strongest muscle; the muscle that can break the cycle of poverty.

That week some of the teachers were missing due to exams so we immediately took over the substitute classes. We spent 12 unforgettable days in Piali.

Thank you Mojca, Anup, the teachers and the students at Piali Ashar Alo.

 Text and photography by Polona Fonda. All rights reserved. 


Sponsor an unprivileged girl with only 230 eur per year. With the following amount girls get a full year of education, a school uniform, notebooks and other study material, two meals a day and mostly importantly, a safe environment to develop themselves. I am starting mine sponsorship in January when a new generation joins the school.  

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