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 [...]
Report on Construction at Lakshmi Devi Academy A Project of KHEL Total Cost for Stage One of LDA construction project: INR28,00,000 (USD40,000/€35,000) After more than three years of planning, construction work at Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children in Dehradun, India, began in March 2017. The reason we are releasing this report now is that we wanted to see how well the construction worked for our kids. It takes some time to understand crowd flow and movement, and what we’ve learned this past year will impact future construction. In India, it’s normal to wait through a monsoon season to see how construction holds up. Overall, this construction has performed admirably and has met our expectations. We invited the community and some of our students to a ground-breaking ceremony. Representing KHEL were Co-Founder Lalita Arya (fondly known as Ammaji), Executive Director Stomya Arya Persaud, Board Member Mr. Ahluwalia, and Beni Bhatt, KHEL’s General Manager. Of course, all of KHEL’s staff and teachers joined us. From Dhyana Mandiram Trust (DMT), which funded a large portion of this effort, we welcomed Tejas Chandaria, Narinder Pushkarna and Dr. Upreti. Also present were City Councillor Kamli Bhatt, and members of LDA’s Volleyball team. In addition, we were happy to welcome both of our contractors, Jakir Ansari and Rajender Chauhan, and Mr. Maindola, our architect. KHEL serves a diverse community. In keeping with our policy of inclusion, we asked representatives from the 4 major religions of our community to take part in the ground-breaking ceremony. Ammaji began the proceedings with a prayer and blessing. Pandit Harshanand performed a short Hindu ceremony, Iliyaas Ansari gave a Muslim blessing, Mr. Ahluwalia said a Sikh prayer and Prakash Goel offered a [...]
India is home to more than 225 million children ages 10 to 19 years. At Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved youth in Dehradun, India, we provide a comprehensive education designed to give our children the tools to reach their full potential as individuals and leaders. Helping our kids become productive adults requires collective action on education, health, employment, personal development and interpersonal relationships. The Adolescent Resource Centre (ARC), instituted at LDA several years ago, gives our children the tools they need for their lives outside the classroom. ARC covers many overlapping areas of development. We discuss life skills and livelihood. The children learn decision making and relationship skills, and they spend time in personal contemplation. We share with them what kinds of changes to expect during adolescence, how our social attitudes might change during this time, and crucial information on reproductive health. We talk about nutrition, health, hygiene, what constitutes a balanced diet, and common and infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Throughout this year long process, we encourage curiosity, open discussion and problem solving. The ARC councilors, Madhavi and Karishma, stress that confidentiality is a critically important part of ARC. Our kids and staff all live in the same community. The advantage to this is that everyone looks after everyone else. The disadvantage is that everyone knows everyone else’s business, and gossip among or about teenagers can be devastating. Many of our kids don’t have access to personal space in their homes; sometimes a living room doubles as a family bedroom, and in that same space there may be a small area in one corner for cooking. This makes confidentiality vital to building trust with our children because [...]
‘You don’t have to be privileged to have potential’Shivani, KHEL VolunteerHow 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.How do we help kids to achieve their potential? Education is the primary means to self improvement and is the most basic service we offer. But, there’s no point providing children an education if they’re too sick or malnourished to focus on their studies so we also organise health camps, vaccinations and other forms of medical and nutritional support for the kids and their families. Education isn’t just about academics. Through our volunteers and the many visitors to KHEL our kids get the benefit of meeting people from all over the world. In 2014, through the Adolescent Resource Centre, we introduced innovative programs to provide our kids with education for life such as career planning, relationship advice and health and hygiene lessons. Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children in Dehradun, India, is more than just a school. It is a gathering space that fosters relationships among diverse groups in a small and densely populated community. Programs like the Buddy Project help the kids to develop empathy for each other from [...]
We spent some time redesigning KHEL’s website to make it easier to use, more relevant and easier to update with dynamic content. We now link to various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. More content is coming soon through our Updates section. We’ll also be adding additional photos and videos. You can help by donating some of your photos under Donate in the top menu. This site redesign features two photos previously donated from our sponsors. You can also donate to KHEL itself via PayPal. Please let us know what you think on our Facebook page. Thanks to Saumya, Urban and Dharani for their hard work!