Every year, the community around Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children in Dehradun, India, grows and changes. What remains constant is the need for education. Thirty-five years ago, we asked questions like, ‘how do we get our kids to sit still long enough to drink a cup of milk?’ Now we ask, ‘how do we give our kids an education that supports them academically, socially, and personally?’ And at the end of every year we ask, ‘what was our biggest challenge? Where did we succeed?’
Our biggest challenge was tracking what happens to students who leave LDA. More ….
Over the course of more than 35 years, KHEL has given our children and their community a well-rounded education, meals, baths, dry rations, medical aid, jobs, water from our pump, clothes, shoes, grass for their goats, a playing field, financial and academic advice, solace, and hope for a better future. We look forward to many more years of service to these amazing and resilient kids because although KHEL is the building and the grounds, the fundraising and administration, our children are the life blood that flows through it all. More ….
Many of the children at Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children in Dehradun, India, are the first in their families to have literacy access but may still live in homes with no toilets or running water. Access to education takes more than a classroom and books. Sometimes, a student comes to school without basic supplies. Sometimes, their clothing and shoes are literally falling apart. Sometimes, they show up malnourished or ill. Sometimes, a child simply stops coming to school and we have to find out why. A parent gets sick or injured and can no longer support their family, or someone dies and a family is suddenly destitute. Food, clothes, school supplies, physical and mental health support, community outreach, a shoulder to cry on: you help provide these necessities. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer; each child in need has a unique situation. More ….
When we had read about an attack on a group of leprosy patients not far from Dehradun, Beni Bhatt, KHEL’s General Manager, traveled with his 13 year old son to offer them assistance. The residents were wary of Beni but when he offered some aid the head of the colony cried as he told how they had been attacked by men with guns and swords and how all their valuables had been stolen. Beni gave them the donation from Swami Veda and KHEL, and also provided them with some dry food rations. The whole area is dangerous and unstable and they left as quickly as they could so that they wouldn’t be caught on the roads in the dark.
In 2015 we added medical insurance for our staff, for which KHEL pays a percentage. We hope that this benefit will help bring stability to our employees and their families. More ….
How many children have amazing potential and no means to develop it because of simple, solvable challenges? In some parts of the world, kids are being bombed or kidnapped because they and their families believe in education. At KHEL the threats are, thankfully, less life threatening. But it’s no less devastating to a child who wants to get an education and can’t because she’s menstruating and has no sanitary napkins, or because he has to get a job at 9 years old because his parents are too sick to work. For some children it’s as simple a problem as they don’t have shoes. More ….
It’s been a challenging year at KHEL. We couldn’t save the life of one of our students, the monsoons were financially and emotionally devastating, our volunteers were threatened by an online stalker (who lived a little too close to ignore) and one volunteer/family member suffered a traumatic brain injury. Swami Veda, our spiritual preceptor, ardent KHEL supporter and former family member to some of us was extremely ill. Mrs. Lalita Arya (fondly known as Ammaji) co-founded KHEL with Swami Veda when he was Dr. Arya; she spent a great deal of time away from KHEL this year, caring for him. More ….
On the surface, India has changed dramatically since Dr. Usharbudh and Mrs. Lalita Arya began helping the people of Shiv Puri, Bhagat Singh and Vani Vihar colonies more than 26 years ago. In Dehradun where KHEL provides aid and education, there are 10 million people. 22% of India’s population still lives below the poverty line of US$1.25 per day. In the past two years we have seen that the new Indian middle class has the time, energy, inclination and monetary freedom to do more for their less fortunate compatriots. More ….
Junior High School Recognition: KHEL’s greatest accomplishment in 2011 was obtaining official status as a recognized junior high school from the Indian government. Beni, KHEL’s dedicated General Manager, along with members of the faculty and staff, have worked hard for nearly two years to secure this status. Without it, KHEL would be unable to provide certifications of graduation to our newly minted 9th class students. The educational offices aren’t located in Dehradun; Beni traveled into the mountains several times to meet with government officials. More ….
Swami Veda invites you to the International Children’s and Youth Retreat:
I’m looking forward to my much cherished Children’s and Youth Retreat, December 22-31, 2011, at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India. Our children are the future of this tradition and of the world; please bring them so that they can learn from our advanced yoga teachers and so that they can form bonds with one another that will last a lifetime. More ….
Leprosy Colony News: KHEL has been providing food rations to leprosy patients at 3 leprosy colonies for 25 years. Leprosy patients are dependent mainly on begging because leprosy often makes them lose their extremities and impairs their vision. In addition, there are many social stigmas that make it difficult for them to find jobs. They need help with basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothes. More ….
|Master Gulab Singh|
“I am a person handicapped by leprosy, but I had never begged in my life. I worked for some non profits such as Leprosy Mission. I have also taught children and adults. Now I am very old and became totally handicapped and unable to work. So in this condition I wondered where to go, where to live and how will I survive with my wife. I came in Indresh colony 20 years ago. At that time there were only mud huts and no toilets. But when I came back here 4 years ago I saw it had become wonderful – all the housed were cemented, there were bathrooms and even a community hall!. I was surprised to see all this. Then I found out that all these facilities were because of KHEL. I knew that we are getting ration and medicines also from KHEL. So I decided to live here with my wife. Now it is my permanent address.” —
Master Gulab Singh
KHEL also helps communities in the USA. Along with support from Interfaith Works and Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, www.pluralism.org KHEL helped bring together Faith Leaders of over a dozen religious groups for the inception of The New Orleans Healing Center’s www.neworleanshealingcenter.org Spiritual and Interfaith Program, a community revitalization project. More ….
The United Nations Children’s Fund states that infant mortality rates worldwide have shown a dramatic decrease since 1999. In India, the improving economy is given credit for this wonderful news; specifically, ‘More girls are getting education and jobs, they marry later and they have fewer children…’ (New York Times, 9/13/07). At KHEL, we’ve known for a long time that education is key to improving the chances a person will survive childhood and for 25 years we’ve done our part to make a difference. It has been sometimes daunting and frustrating, but the happiness on a child’s face when they have a full stomach and can read a book makes the effort worth it. Apparently, we’re not the only ones who think so; according to the Corporation for National and Community Service (firstname.lastname@example.org), ‘Over the past two decades we have seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates…and lower rates of depression later in life…’ Individuals and companies are discovering the joys of helping others, from medical professionals who take time away from lucrative careers to multinational corporations who find that their employees and customers like them better when they donate (Time, 9/17/07). From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Geekcorps to the One Laptop per Child initiative to ‘service learning’ requirements in American schools, people are waking up to the fact that every act of volunteering and every dollar (or rupee or euro) helps to improve the life of someone at risk. In the increasingly small world we’re living in, this can only be good for everyone. More ….
Another year has gone by and KHEL continues to aid those who need it most. Because we work closely with the people we help, we are able to tailor our programs to suit the diverse needs of the community. This has lead to many changes over the years, the most significant being the gradual phasing out of our milk and meals program for Shiv Puri Colony. There are other neighborhoods that need our help, but Shiv Puri is where we started. It’s amazing to see that families, and communities, can work towards self-sufficiency. Also new this year, our Annual Report contains updates written by KHEL’s staff and students. We are very happy to have them contributing their opinions and thoughts and hope that this gives KHEL’s friends and donors a better insight into the lives of the people we help. More ….
We have lived to see disaster, on a large scale: the Tsunami in Asia, Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquake in Kashmir. These are devastating occurrences, justifiably drawing our attention and compassion. But there are small occurrences every day which are just as distressing: a hungry child with her face pressed against the window of an expensive restaurant, the family who seeks aid too late to save their son, young women trying to study while they slowly starve. The heartbreak of the everyday can be overwhelming, each instance of suffering seems like a pebble in an unstoppable avalanche, and so we turn our backs, feeling too small and helpless to turn the tide of tragedy. More ….
Some of our staff members have been with KHEL for many years and it occurred to us last year that someday they may want to retire! We now invest in the Provident Fund, a government sponsored savings/investment/retirement program. In this Fund, a percentage of salary is deducted from each staff member and KHEL matches those funds. Contributing staff members can borrow against their fund by applying at the local Provident Fund office. In this way, we are encouraging KHEL employees to save for their future needs and making it possible for them to continue having a decent quality of life even after they have retired. This Fund is accessible to anyone who works for KHEL on a permanent basis and every qualifying staff member is taking part. More ….
Since February 2002, Ammaji had been in the US. Stomya Arya Persaud, Assistant Director, has spent this year in India, managing KHEL. Stomy and the KHEL staff have spent the year studying how KHEL is structured, finding the weak links, planning methods of working that will strengthen the chain and discovering that there is common ground somewhere between Western efficiency and Eastern flexibility. Stomy brings many years of being Ammaji’s USA assistant to the job of running KHEL on a fulltime basis. She can be reached at email@example.com. More ….