Giving A Himalayan Village Hope For their Children
Nestled in a high Himalayan valley, Bala is a small village in the state of Uttarakhand. Most people are either subsistence farmers or weavers. Far from any major town, the options for educating the children were almost none until 2014 when Raj Mahara and his wife Geeta started a school in a small room donated by the village elders for Nursery age children.
Now the school has 40 children in Nursery-1st grades. Raj named the school “Seedlings” because from his first hand experience as an expert local naturalist, he knows that in order to create strong healthy and productive trees and plants, it is imperative that utmost care and love be given to the seedlings.
He truly believes that children are no different than seedlings in that regard and is building the philosophy of the school around this belief. Children are taught in Hindi. They also learn basic English, art and music and working with nature.
HEF works closely with Raj to shape the philosophy of the school and have helped him create the school curriculum and classroom environment right from the start. A small grant has made it possible for Seedlings to repair and move into an abandoned stone house by a river which is now the new home for Seedlings School. This will allow the school to grow as they add a grade each year.
HEF sponsored Raj to spend one week at the Tagore International School in New Delhi where an HEF-friend, Preeti Chadha, is the Headmistress. Although the circumstances of a remote mountain village are drastically different from an urban modern school, this visit allowed Raj to get an understanding of what things are possible – which he can now adapt for Seedlings.
Currently there are only a few girls enrolled and HEF hopes to provide scholarships to encourage many more families to send their girls to Seedlings.