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. In 2018, 12 students dropped out of school. Our community used to be mostly people who had been ostracised from their villages and were searching for a new home. Now, migrant families are usually looking for work and don’t intend to stay. They don’t have cell phones or addresses. They leave because they couldn’t find work, they found work somewhere else, someone died, got sick or married, they owe someone money, they ran out of money, it’s harvesting (or planting) season so they went back to their village, or any number of other reasons that we don’t know, and which they’re not obligated to tell us. It wasn’t too long ago that migrant families’ children worked, so it’s encouraging that while they’re in the community, they send their kids to LDA.
Our greatest achievement was hiring Nikita. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal, she’s just another young woman working at her first job while studying for her B.Sc. Here’s what we did right: many years ago, we educated Devender, Nikita’s father. At the time, LDA only went up to 5th grade so he had a basic education before becoming a labourer. He got married, had children, and because he understood the benefits of an education, he sent his daughter to school. Years of toiling on the sides of roads breathing diesel fumes took its toll. He developed acute chronic asthma and needed an oxygen tank. The family could not afford for Nikita to continue with her studies and take care of Devender’s health at the same time. Luckily, Nikita heard that we were hiring. KHEL’s employee medical insurance covers her father so he now has the care he needs, Nikita’s salary helps support her family, and she will complete her B.Sc. as a distance learner while working for KHEL.
Success is Nikita. It’s Devender, who made sure his daughter got an education. It’s Rajinder and Zakir, our contractors who attended LDA as kids and who now do our construction work. It’s Kamli, who used to work for us and who was just elected to her 3rd term as a City Councilor. It’s Dev, whom we helped educate and who is now working at a 5-star hotel in Mumbai. It’s even the migrant children who, for at least a short time, get to know what going to school feels like.
Through Kindness, Health, Education, and Laughter, KHEL provides the tools necessary to create change, and generational prosperity. When someone picks up these tools and works hard to build a life for themselves, their families, and their community, that’s success.
Use of Funds: KHEL has 24 employees, most of whom are teachers and support staff at LDA, and 3 professional consultants – lawyer, bookkeeper, and auditor. We support our kids and community with education, educational supplies, health clinics, medical and other aid, extracurricular activities, continuing education for teachers, aid to Leprosy colonies, and scholarships.
|457,104||7,032||5,786||Financial, legal, travel, office expenses, regulatory|
|1,220,268||18,773||15,446||Compensation (within government norms)|
|583,740||8,981||7,389||Government required retirement fund|
|155,208||2,388||1,965||Government required medical insurance|
|196,300||3,020||2,485||Government required teacher training|
|185,650||2,856||2,350||Government required security system|
|1,026,000||15,785||12,987||Overheads, maintenance, repairs|
|565,000||8,692||7,152||Medical clinics, school supplies, other aid, extracurricular|
|936,000||14,400||11,848||Leprosy colonies: emergency & medical aid, dry food rations|
New Hire: Nikita Joshi was hired as an Office Assistant.
Improvements/Repairs: Road work was completed around LDA to improve the small bridge above the open sewer that connects the road to LDA’s gate. Sewer lines were repaired.
Parents: We wholeheartedly support the involvement of parents at LDA and hosted a meeting to update parents on government regulations, and to discuss other issues pertaining to the children.
Government Activities: LDA is a polling station for elections. The government continues to use LDA’s centrally located school grounds to register people for voting, and for health checkups for newborns and infants.
Leprosy Colonies: KHEL gives food rations, medicines, and emergency aid to 3 Leprosy colonies (about 75 leprosy patients).
Volunteers: Mission Humanitaire: painted classrooms. Pranjal: video production. Hunny: Chess and sports; Kishan Rana: sports education.
Kerala: KHEL’s staff and kids raised funds to help the victims of the devastating floods in Kerala.
International: KHEL provided 4 US-based grants to support the work of volunteers and educational professionals to Chreese, Anna, Veena, and Saumya.
Free Health Clinics and Events: Mission Humanitaire: health check for LDA’s kids. Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT): medical camp. Himgiri Lions Club: eye clinic, cost of 38 pairs of glasses, and donation of sanitary napkins. Shree Eye Clinic: eye clinic; Uttarakhand Urban Primary Health Clinic: health camp for kids 3rd-8th grade. KHEL’s medical clinics saw more than 1,000 patients in 2018. We promoted better health by promoting Global Handwashing Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Environment Day, and National Deworming Day.
Medical Aid: Salman, Magan, Devaki, Raghubir, Paavani, and Keshav.
Government Health Program at LDA: The Uttarakhand government promotes new born and maternal health through their ‘Asha’ program, which takes place at LDA once a month. Asha provides family planning tools, prenatal and neonatal services, vaccinations for children up to 5 years old, deworming, care for TB patients, and referrals to local hospitals when needed.
Scholarships: Varun Mishra: Yoga teacher training. Dev Kumar: Hotel Management. Hunny Bhatt: Hotel Management.
Educational Activities: Mahatma Khushiram Public Library in Dehradun: field trip for older kids. Waste Warriors, a local non-profit, educated our kids and staff on how to keep our environment clean. Kishan Rana, an Olympic level coach, spent the day with our kids working on activities-based sports education.
Diploma of Elementary Education: LDA’s teaching staff is taking part in an 18-month government mandated Diploma class. They have passed two rounds of testing and are in the final months of this intensive course. Because they work full time, they attend classes after school and on weekends. They also submitted papers based on LDA case studies, and were observed by examiners while teaching.
Remedial Classes: Some students are very weak in basic reading, writing, and math skills. We have instituted remedial classes for these students to bring them up to the standard for their grade.
Adolescent Resource Centre (ARC): KHEL’s ARC program continues to support our 7th and 8th grade students with activities and informational sessions designed to help them more fully to understand themselves.
LDA Academic Report: LDA has 301 students. We had 52 new admissions for the 2018-2019 academic year, and 22 students successfully passed their 8th grade exams and went on to high school. 6 students left school after passing 5th grade, and 2 students were admitted to other schools. Twelve students left for unknown reasons and we were not able to locate them and their families.
The Right to Education Act (RTE) is a government program that helps children of minority and impoverished groups remain in school by helping pay for their education. In the past, KHEL was required to fill out the paperwork and submit it on behalf of the students. Now, the government has shifted this responsibility to the parents. This has lessened KHEL’s workload, but in reality, this shift has not been good for the children who could benefit from this program, as many people in the category of RTE are illiterate and impoverished, with no access to computers and the internet.
Milestones: Congratulations! To Dev on his new job at St. Regis, Marriott, Mumbai; Hunny on his admittance to Hotel Management Training; Varun, on his acceptance to an advanced Yoga teacher training program. Two teachers, Shivani and Asha, had babies, and our dear friend, Kamli Bhatt, won her 3rd term as a City Councilor. We are so proud of everyone’s accomplishments!
Holidays, Sports: Our kids and staff love to celebrate! Together, we enjoyed Republic Day, Holi, a farewell party for our 8th graders including their end of year picnic, staff lunch, Rakhi, Independence Day, Bakra Id, Teachers’ Day, Diwali, Sports Day/Children’s Day, Christmas, Ammaji’s birthday, Earth Day, Shraavan, International Day of the Girl, and World Hello Day.
Buddy Project: The Buddy Project is a student-centered program that encourages relationships between children of different ages. Older kids partner with a younger child to help them with homework and play games. Little Buddies often go to their Big Buddy when they have conflicts on the playground. Year after year, we see Big Buddies coming back to LDA just to visit their Little Buddy.
Guests: Guests are always welcome at LDA! In 2018 we had several guest groups: Swami Tat Sat and Germany group; KHEL Board member, Shruti, and her cousin, Anjali; Katie, Luke Liam and Finn; Pierre and friends from Canada; and the Kirsch family.
So many people help KHEL to help others! Swami Tat Sat and our German friends; the Himalayan Yoga Institute of Florence, Italy; Randall, Jay, Mary and Rick, Sudhanshu and Kelly, Anita and Manu, Neerja and Dinesh, S. Chand Publications, Himgiri Lions Club, Jeet Bahadur, Surender Sajwan, Mr. Rabbani, KHEL’s Board of Directors, Mandy and our UK friends, Mission Humanitaire, doctors and support staff of HIHT, Maithili and Neelam of RDI, DMT, our ARC Councilors, Kamli Bhatt, Pranjal, Hunny, Kishan Rana and his team, Shree Eye Clinic, Uttarakhand Primary Health Clinic, and many more people make our work possible. To KHEL employees: thanks for your spectacular hard work! Special thanks to all KHEL staff working on their Diploma of Elementary Education: You have sacrificed almost all your free and family time to become better teachers to our kids. To the extended Arya/Persaud/Haas/Ilangovan family network: Thanks for your loving support. Thanks to Ammaji, our inspiration and the heart of KHEL. We continue this service in memory of Dr. Usharbudh Arya (Swami Veda Bharati), KHEL’s Co-Founder, who dedicated his life to helping others.