By: Renita Zaparde

Information Access , Caretaker

Every year, millions of orphans are forced into daily difficult situations. According to a recent UNICEF report, there are over 153 million orphans in the world today - that’s about half the population of the United States.

In India, 28-million children between the ages of 5-and-14 engage in child-labor, many of them orphans. While India has made encouraging progress in recent years to reduce the number of children forced to work instead of pursuing their education, orphaned girls remain particularly vulnerable because of the heavy load of domestic daily chores.

In addition to walking for miles under the scorching sun to attend school, each day these orphaned girls wash clothes, cook and fetch water from the village well. Due to this arduous hardship, many girls consider dropping out of school, relinquishing their education and giving-up on their dreams. Yet study after study reveals that education is the single greatest catalyst to breaking the cycle of poverty and abuses of human rights.

Without access to publicly funded school-buses, rural orphaned girls have to walk give or six miles a day to attend school. Over half of them drop out by the time they reach high school. I believe we can ensure that they have more time to complete their schoolwork and focus on their education by providing bicycles.  

My organization, Pedal2Prosperity recognizes the importance of helping orphaned girls build their futures by providing them with bicycles

Our model is to engage students across the United States to help us raise the money we need to provide bikes to orphaned girls in rural villages. Not only does this inspire and motivate our peers, our process also instills empathy and the recognition that each of us can make a difference in the lives of others.

To date, we have involved 52 schools and over 700 students who have raised more than $20,000 dollars (USD) for our cause. As a result, we have provided 237 bicycles to orphaned girls in rural villages in India and are seeking to expand our reach to Africa.

Below is a list of supporting documents and different ways people can help:

PRIORITY #1: Book me for a SKYPE session!

We can set up a 20-25 minute Skype session with a club at your school to explain Pedal2Prosperity’s mission and answer any particular questions you may have.

PRIORITY #2: Raise money or make a donation!

A bicycle costs about $70 and helps a student significantly reduce the time (and energy) it takes to walk 3+ miles each way to school.

  • Hi, I’m Renita Zaparde, a 16-year-old from New Jersey looking to make a difference in the world. Throughout my life, I’ve always had the importance of education instilled in me, and I wanted to make sure that others were open to the same opportunities that I had.


Advice for my peers

Everyone experiences failures or bumps in the road to creating change in the world. The biggest challenge I have faced in the past four years of growing Pedal2Prosperity is being unable to contact superintendents and principals at schools to explain our cause, since they are often very hard to reach. After calling countless times and never receiving a call back, I wonder if I should keep trying or simply move on. But then I remember the spark of hope and happiness in the eyes of the orphaned girls when we helped them pursue their educations and achieve their dreams, and I know I can make a difference in their lives if I keep going. Throughout the past four years, I have learned to recognize the positive difference I can make in the world by taking small steps.

Others who want to launch their own social movements should understand that they have the passion and motivation to do something. They have the opportunity and ability to make a difference in someone’s life. All they have to do is embrace this desire to create positive change, and just do it. 

How I got started

Four years ago, we gave our first bicycle to Kusum, a 13-year-old orphan in a rural village in India.

Kusum lost her father when she was six; unable to pay his farm debt, her father had committed suicide. Two years later, her mother became severely ill and passed away due to lack of medical care. On the day her mother died, Kusum knew she was going to be a nurse—come hell or high water.

Kusum moved to her grandmother’s home in a neighboring village. She helped her grandmother cook, wash clothes, and fetch water from the village well. After walking over six miles everyday under the scorching sun, Kusum barely had any time or energy to complete her homework. Many times, Kusum was on the brink of relinquishing her education—and her dream.

Watch the videos to understand what a day in the life of our beneficiaries is like:

That was the start of Pedal2Prosperity -- and for this school year I am determined to distribute another 250 bicycles and expand to rural African communities. 

There are countless more orphaned girls to help, and that’s why I forge on. That’s why I will continue to grow Pedal2Prosperity during my remaining high school years, in college, and beyond.

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