Bringing Hope to Disadvantaged Girls
Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya, Baseri
20 February, 2016
Kagyupa International Monlam Trust in partnership with Rokpa Foundation initiated a new project during this year’s Monlam to improve the facilities at a girls’ school in a nearby village.
The Kagyu Monlam Well-Being Medical Camp and the Rokpa Foundation Akong Tulku Memorial Soup Kitchen have continued to work together during the 33rd Kagyu Monlam putting compassion into action in order to play their part in the vast vision of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. In addition to their joint projects in Bodhgaya, this year their teams engaged in an outreach project to the local villages providing food and medicine to some of the poorest people in India. Concerned that the Medical Camp and Soup Kitchen brought only short term relief in the face of limitless suffering and need, they wanted to explore what more could be done to improve the situation of the local people who constantly have to live with hunger, heat, ill health, lack of clean water and minimal opportunities for education.
One of the three villages the group visited this year was Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya, Baseri. In particular, the group worked with a girls’ hostel there. The hostel includes 107 girls from age 6 to 14, who live together and attend the local school. All of the girls are from families in the area who live below the national poverty line. Although the facilities at the hostel are very basic, it provides a wonderful opportunity for the girls to live and learn together. The Rokpa Soup Kitchen team had visited this hostel the year before, and had been impressed by the enthusiasm of the girls and the kind motivation of the House Mother and staff including one teacher who teaches sign language to 7 of the girls who are deaf and dumb. Last year’s visit and further meetings led to a wish to strengthen their connection with the hostel and do more to support this worthwhile project.
Lama Choedrak, the CEO of Kagyupa International Monlam Trust, took time out from all of his many duties at the Monlam Pavillion to give his support to the new initiative at the girls’ hostel. He was accompanied by representatives of the Medical Camp and Rokpa Foundation Soup Kitchen. The most urgent need was for clean water to prevent water-borne illnesses and so a drinking water purification system has been installed this year. In addition, eight washbasins have been installed to provide washing facilities in the bathrooms, and seventeen much needed ceiling fans have been fitted in the bedrooms to provide some relief during the scorching Bihar summer. These improvements will make a big difference to the quality of the lives of the girls in the hostel. Amidst great excitement, each girl was given a personal kit of mirror, comb, toothbrush, soap, scissors and a drinking-water bottle. The nursing team also delivered a short training session on personal health and hygiene. This is a pilot scheme, and the hope is that giving help to some of the most disadvantaged will make a lasting difference. The long-term aim is to continue to support the work of this hostel.
Vin Harris, the director of the Akong Tulku Memorial Soup Kitchen, encouraged the girls to look after each other so that they could continue to establish kindness in the community they share. He quoted the wisdom of Akong Tulku :
Education for girls is particularly important because one day you will become mothers of the next generation and then you can pass on what you have learned to your children – this is perhaps the most direct way to bring about positive change in our world.