• Gita Banks

Fall Newsletter 2020


Year 2 of our Work has Begun!


Dear Mariam Society Members,


We open this Newsletter hoping our Society Members and their families are safe and in good health.


All of our sponsored girls are also well, and despite these trying times, coping with the challenges of the global pandemic. As some of you may know, India is one of the hardest hit nations in the COVID-19 pandemic. As this newsletter goes out, new cases are at close to 90,000 per day.

Our girls and their families are in one of the country's virus "hot-spots", the state of Maharashtra, so are still under government mandated lockdown with no immediate end in sight.


Despite these setback, all 60 of our girls persevered and returned to school in August in large part due to your financial support. The majority of school-age girls not supported through our programs are unable to attend school as COVD-19 has had a massive financial impact on rural families in India, and sadly, most are expected to never return.



Online School in the Villages


Online schooling is now become a way of life for our girls until lockdowns are lifted.

To make it work, several families pooled funds donated through the Mariam Society to invest in cellular phones that groups of children share to access online resources.

See how classes and lessons are structured through a video featuring Ankita.



WhatsApp Groups Help our Girls


Through their communal cellphones, our girls leverage WhatsApp, a free tool used by both teachers and students for online learning.

Groups of friends work together to problem solve and complete daily assignments which is helping them get through.

This format has also helped our girls maintain some form of social connection with classmates which is so important at this stage of their development.

Siddhi walks us through how she's managing.

We will continue to keep our Mariam Sponsors updated on how things develop in the coming months.



Featured Mariam Ambassador

Laura Pacheco


As one of Mariam Society's earliest supporters, Laura Pacheco has been involved in advising and supporting the Society through its earliest days, and through Sharing Events she hosted with her network.

Laura is best described as a ‘connector’. She is an avid volunteer and currently a member of the Finance Committee at Casey House, Board Member of the Ethics Centre CA, and member of the Accounting Program Advisory Committee at Centennial College. She is also a University of Toronto Alumni Volunteer Mentor with their Ten Thousand Coffees program.

As a result of COVID19, Laura also volunteers with Neighbours helping Neighbours and has organized her neighbours in providing hot lunches at a nearby women’s shelter. She is also helping out at a pop up “Loaves and Fishes” Daily Food Bank now operating out of St Pius X Church in Toronto on Fridays.

Most recently, Laura was Vice President, Research and Education at FEI Canada. Laura is happily married and has a daughter who is in her fourth year at the University of King’s College in Halifax.



Praise for our Work


The Mariam Society & Grameen Foundation India (GFI) are proud to be featured in various National Publications and Seminars in India showcasing our life-changing work.


The Pioneer

Our primary Coordinator at GFI, Ronisha Bhattacharyya, authored an article that got a lot of social media traction and engagement . You can read it here:


Civil Society Academy

Ronisha also had a chance to share our work through a week long digital boot camp organized by the Civil Society Academy in India. Over the course of 7 days, Ronisha along with other social impact organizations told a story of one of our sponsored girls. Key challenges in the project were identified and a digital story was created as a part of empathy based communication.



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