At Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for under served children, we’ve been running the ARC Program for a few months. The kids look forward to the days when they get to stay after school to take part. The program is designed to be fun so they have a great time with their friends while learning about health, hygiene, relationships and other topics relevant to 7th and 8th graders. There weren’t any sessions in January since classes didn’t resume after the winter break until January 14. Then the weather became challenging and the state government mandated that schools close for a short period. Many people, including one of the ARC trainers, were sick with seasonal colds and flu.
More than one organisation made ARC at LDA possible. RDI – HIHT (Rural Development Institute – Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust) provided the staff to survey LDA’s students as well as two trainers who work directly with the children. Bhola Shankar Dabral, representing Dhyana Mandiram Trust (DMT), worked hard with other DMT members and donors to raise the necessary funds, while also liaising with KHEL staff to get the program up and running at LDA. Without the dedicated people who run RDI and DMT, ARC at LDA wouldn’t be possible.
Before the ARC inauguration two young women, Karishma and Ankita, came to LDA to talk to the kids. They asked what problems the kids had, what sort of programmes would be helpful to them, what did they know about health and hygiene, what their living conditions were at home, and many other questions. This information was then evaluated by the two trainers so that the sessions are tailored to the needs of LDA’s children.
For Karishma and Ankita this is more than just a job. Both of them are from the region of the Himalayas that was devastated by floods and landslides two years ago. Fortunately, Karishma and Ankita’s families survived this horrendous disaster but they lost everything, including their village and any means of livelihood. Many people from this area were treated for injuries and shock at the Himalayan Institute’s hospital. During this time, they were introduced to Maithili Bhagavatula, the long time Director of RDI. Over the last two years she’s trained them and given them jobs with purpose, resulting in ARC at LDA and other programmes designed to help under served youth.