Monday, 8 October 2012

The golden kids from Sanji Corn Village and surrounds...

DAY SEVEN - Mussoorie

With a day to fill whilst my son is at school, I ask reception at Rokeby Manor for something that would show me the local countryside and give me a feel of local life. I find myself in a taxi heading out to meet Lori a Canadian women, the co - founder of an English speaking primary school, who lives with her Indian husband in Sanji - a small village of around 300 people, known locally simply as  the corn village.

As we head out from Rokeby Manor, I get a chance to admire the countryside



The view of the mountainside back towards Woodstock school



If you look carefully the white in the middle of the photo it is not clouds, but the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas...





After an hour of travelling we reach Kempty Falls, one of the must-see places in the region - in my opinion no where near as worthwhile as what was to follow...

The taxi pulls up at some large gates and the security guard calls Lori from her teaching to show me around. Lori nearly 5 years ago married the Village Elder and together they have established this Garhwal English Medium School for primary aged kids in the area.




The school is supported by donations from family and friends and they are at capacity at 230 children. They provide all the uniform for the students from their underwear upwards, a school bag, and a nutritious lunch cooked on site by two cooks. They would like to include fruit and vitamins but the costs at the moment are prohibitive. There is a visiting doctor who attends twice a month.



We pop our heads into each of the classrooms to say hello and every class leaps up and sings a welcome to Lori and to me "welcome Sister".

Whilst Lori arranges for other staff to cover for her in the afternoon, I watch the younger children line up to board the school bus home. This bus keeps driving all afternoon ferrying students across the hillside. They need a second bus.... They need a lot of things......




The kids love the instant feedback of the iPad camera and after the first little girl became a photographic star, soon they were all demanding to have their photographs taken...









Education always makes a difference, but I was blown away by just what a golden opportunity these hill-side kids had been given.

With Lori released from her afternoon teaching duties, we take my taxi down the hill as close as we can get to the village, the last 500m's is only possible by walking through the rice terraces and corn fields...




The winding path into the village









A bee-hive in amongst the drying corn




The village is quiet, with most of the men away working in the surrounding towns. The women are friendly, we come across this lady with her grand daughter. The little girl was left by her mother with her Grandmother so that she can attend the English School. She is taking her time adapting and is one of the few kids we don't get a happy smile from...




I remark how difficult it must be not to adopt lots of children...




Lori takes me to her home to show me two handicraft projects she is working on with the village women to raise funds for the school. The first is soap manufacture and the second is hand made Himalayan dolls. Both the soap and the dolls employ the local women to the benefit of both the women and the school. I buy some cucumber & aloe vera goats milk soap and wonder what else I can do to help.....

Watch this space as together we can figure this out. There is a website just about to be launched and I will let you know...

Thank you Lori for an amazing day. No wonder the local villagers have taken you to their hearts, you are the Golden Lady of Sanji.

Little Wandering Wren
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