Once upon a time a traveller wandered into the high altitude mountainous folds of Ladakh in India. She meandered into a magical village in a valley which had an old monastery on top of a hill. She was enchanted by the serenity of the picturesque village and by the cherubic ‘Chungjungs’ – the novice monks of the ancient monastery. She noticed that they were really happy but needed some help with their reading. The traveller had to go back home but decided to return soon. Back home she told her friends about the magical village of Likir. She kept her promise ..
And this, is how Friends of Likir was born. ‘There are two things in the world that are close to my heart – Igniting young minds and nudging them on to becoming compassionate human beings. Educating children gives me immense satisfaction and happiness. I’ve always believed that every child, irrespective of his or her family or financial background, deserves a chance to go to school, to read, to write, learn and grow- and in this process have lots of fun.
I happened to visit Ladakh in August 2005 and it created a lasting impression. I realised that beyond this mountainous terrain that holds great appeal for tourists, there was another world. A world where the children were eager to learn and in their cherubic smiles, I could see potential. I decided to stay on for two more months. I design modules here, that aid children in learning communicative skills though activities involving listening, speaking, reading and writing in the medium of English. Through these modules I evoke their imagination and set them out on inquiry-based learning.
‘Friends of Likir’ is a personal initiative and it is gradually evolving to support young learners in remote schools of these neglected areas. It is a slow labour of dedication and love & of my humble steps towards nurturing and educating children in isolated villages of Ladakh. This year, there are further plans of joining hands with other schools in the regions around the Ladakh terrain, Indo-Pakistan & Indo-China borders. The initiative branches out to fifteen schools to build libraries and spaces of effective learning for each. We aspire to gradually build an integrated network of like-minded individuals who may support this endeavour through their time, effort, skills and resources.
I am closely connected to this high altitude region and hope to make a meaningful difference to the lives of these young children. ‘Friends of Likir’ celebrates the spirit of children and their right to education.’ – A.S.