The need for a hostel:
Seven years ago, the teachers of Sikkim Himalayan Academy watched as a determined mother carried her 3 year old son down the mountain daily to come to school. Everyday she walked down for two hours to reach the school at 08:45 am. She waited patiently for more than 6 hours till school finished and then carried her son uphill again. The long and arduous journey specially in the monsoons did nothing to dampen her spirit. Finally the teachers hearts melted and Nima was taken into the school hostel. The small hostel barely has place to accommodate 30 students but our heart found place to squeeze in the little boy. Nima is now over 10 years old and has completed his primary education from SHA. This is the story for most of our hostelers.
Moreover many of the children come from houses where the environment seldom encourages the child’s studies. Books are thrown aside as the child
either struggles to complete all work or rushes around playing in the forest.
Parents return from a day of hard labor and seldom inquire about more than the
childs’ general health.
If not for the presence of a hostel, many children would drop out of school and loiter around the forests. The residential school is the only way for the children of the villages to continue their education.
The School philosophy:
"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you" - John Bunyan
This quote is the philosophy on which Sikkim Himalayan Academy (SHA) was started more than a decade ago. The school was set up in 2003, with a vision to impart quality education to children from remote and often neglected areas of Sikkim. The founders observed that several families in such areas either lacked the means to send their children to school or preferred the children helped with the daily chores at home, abandoning their education. SHA was thus conceptualized to seek out talented children from such backgrounds and provide them high quality education increasing their chances to attain a prosperous future. The school, nestled in a small village of Buriakhop in West Sikkim, had been providing quality education upto grade 5 for about 80 students.
Children from remote corners of West Sikkim come to our school for a better quality of education. Our present hostel facility unfortunately is unable to accommodate more than 30 students at a time. Help us build a beautiful hostel that will match the beauty of these innocent children and let us open our arms and hearts out to more deserving children. The school hostel is a home for the children for over 10 months in a year and we wish for them to stay in a safe and healthy environment.
The Vision for a New Hostel:
The school and hostel require over 1 acre of land to build a new hostel . We envision a 2 floor structure with girls and boys located on separate floors. With this new hostel, we shall be able to accommodate over 210 children. A healthy environment is essential to keep the children happy and ready to learn now things everyday.
How you can Help:
We have earmarked a plot of land a local is ready to sell for just 15 lakhs. We urge you to contribute generously. Every small contribution helps. Any contribution big or small goes towards creating a brighter future for the children. There is no limit on the amount of money one wishes to donate.
We have created perks for large amounts of money and will thank you over social media or send you a handwritten message with the love of the children enclosed.
Do also share this link so it can reach out to a wider audience.
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The children of SHA were happy this Saturday to play with paints and crayons. A drawing competition help set their imagination free.
Wait for us to now announce the winners of this competition.
Thank you Hema didi for contributing to building our hostel. We hope more Didis and Bhaiyas like you help so we can soon live in a better hostel.
Thank you Dhiren Bhaiya for your help. I, Pemba Sherpa from class IV, have written you a small letter to thank you for helping build a new hostel for me.
I hope you continue to be a part of our journey and share the good word about our school so other Bhaiyas and Didis can help us too.
Fun at school. Play time on Saturdays is made more fun as a new volunteer teaches the children new games.
"Ola Ola Pepsi ya Cola" yelled the kids as they played an age old game. Clapping hands and counting numbers.
The Maths Olympiad started off with gusto - Cildren excited as they lined up in the ground for an hour of solving puzzles.
Class I to V ran to win points for their teams. But soon dark clouds came on and it began to rain. The children ran for cover in the hostel. But the show must go on.We continued the competition. 60 children and all the teachers pitched in as they squeezed into the little hostel.
Circumstances cannot dampen their spirit as the quickly solved puzzles and maths questions.
The winner were declared by Maths teacher Sushma Miss.
It was a fun filled saturday. Ab Maths main humara Nil Battey sanata nahi ahin :)
A home visit is a good way to meet the day students guardians. It also gives us a peek into the lives of the children. We spoke to the parents and learnt how all the children walk for one hour daily to reach the school. After school, the children cook food, clean the house and then study for an hour. Its a life of hardship. But this does nothing to lessen the smile on their faces or their enthusiasm to study hard.
An article was published about the school . Read on.
For children in the many impoverished families of Buriakhop village (Sikkim), their days are less about study and more about chores and labour.
Time is spent collecting firewood, sowing potatoes, cooking, cleaning, and looking after their many younger siblings. The unlucky ones must also bear silent witness to loud, alcohol-induced fights between their parents. Families are often broken, and series of remarriages leave the children almost orphaned as they’re tossed from relative to relative.
Books are forgotten as the child either struggles to complete all the housework or runs around playing in the forest. After a hard day of toiling in the fields, the parents don’t have the energy to ask about more than the child's general health.
Studies are considered the school's responsibility. Parents never concern themselves with homework or revision. School dropouts fall into drugs and alcohol, looking for an escape from the harsh realities of their world.
In these troubled waters, SHA (Sikkim Himalayan Academy) is a beacon of hope.
It’s a free residential school for underprivileged children, and for these kids, life in the school is a bed of roses compared to life back home.
It’s 6 a.m. and her hostel is awash with hazy sunlight. A thick cold mist has enveloped Buriakhop and she wraps her hands around herself, rubbing her arms for warmth. It’s already time for her duties
Time to rearrange her little trunk and make her bed. At 10 years old, Dakila has fewer duties than her older friend Binita, who’s now 16. Binita must wake up at 05:00 a.m., wash the school toilet, clean one classroom, get little Thinley ready for school and then get herself ready as well.
The wakeup bell trills and soon many little sleepy heads sit up on their beds, rubbing the sleep from their eyes.
The children rush around, searching for their uniforms, shoes, and school bags.
They’re selected from impoverished families that cannot afford to educate them. With no parent around in the school, they learn to make their own beds, wash their own clothes, and even look after the tiny tots placed under their care. Looking after the younger ones comes naturally to these children, many of whom are born into families with 6-7 siblings.
SHA is filled with colourful storybooks, mischievous friends, and friendly teachers.
Besides the normal subjects, school days are filled with art and games.
The children marvel at the paints and brushes, which are a luxury unknown at home. Soon, there’s more paint on their faces than on the papers in front of them. Beaming looks of pride make up for all the mess in the classroom.
Volunteers from all over the country bring their ideas to this little rural school.
A filmmaker from Bangalore brings his vision for a documentary. The children pull funny faces to attract the camera's attention.
An enthusiastic girl from Pune works her way into the cooks’ hearts as she helps them prepare breakfast for the 30 hostellers.
The children stumble and fumble with words as they try to talk to their new teachers in English.
Each new volunteer brings a new dimension, new stories for the children, and creates new memories for them.
Soon, the ground is filled with children falling, dusting themselves off, and running again. Bruises are ignored. Playtime is precious and can’t be wasted crying over small falls.
Soon enough, though, the bell rings again and it’s study time. A few more minutes are stolen as they run away from the hostel wardens watchful gaze and play, until a stern voice calls them back to the classrooms.
Dinner time relieves the children. They crowd into the dining hall. The delicious smells of rice, dal, and vegetables hang in the air. Hungry students softly utter prayers of thanks before digging in.
Every night after dinner, Lopen, their language teacher, leads them in Buddhist prayer. The voices of the children fill the air with soothing chants. Everyone huddles together to listen to tonight’s story—a new story every night before the lights go out.
It’s finally bedtime. Soon, the only sounds heard are whispered secrets between friends. Another day at school is over. Silence envelops the room as sleep envelops the children.
Visit the SHA website to learn more about this school and how you can be part of their journey. Right now, the school is looking for funds to create a bigger hostel so they can accommodate more deserving children. You can contribute directly to this cause by donating here.
115 lives have changed as a result of donors' support.