August 2010

Buddha Academy Boarding School Vocational Training and Infirmary Maintenance Programs

Vocational Training

Buddha Academy Boarding School offers vocational training programs in tailoring, carpentry and electrical work to high-school students, fully funded by TRAS.

Tailoring Program

From its humble beginnings in the early 1990s, Buddha Academy Boarding School in Kathmandu has grown into a thriving institution, taking in and educating the poorest children: orphans, the disabled, street children and youth, and children of poverty-stricken villagers. The catalyst for this change was the Principal, the late Dorje Namgyal (who passed away in September, 2012).  Dorje was sponsored in his youth by a TRAS member and spent his adult life helping thousands of children and youth in need.

Carpentry Program

In the mid-1990s, TRAS paid for the vocational training classrooms to be built and has since been funding vocational training courses at the school. In the 1990s, these classes were the only way a student could be assured of a job. Now the academic excellence of Buddha Academy Boarding School is such that many students go to university or find office jobs. The vocational training courses are now given to all senior students as part of the regular school curriculum and are recognised by the Ministry of Education for the School Leaving Certificate. The vocational skills stand all the students in good stead in their own lives; and for those who want to continue studying in these fields, the vocational training courses offer a good foundation. Four recent graduates are studying engineering and surveying at university, thanks in part to the training they received in electrical work.

Electrician Training Program

Several students take the vocational training courses full time, and the spare places are offered to young people from outside the Academy who have had no chance for an education – often their families have come in desperation to Kathmandu looking for work, and there is nothing for their children. Again, the success rate is high, with carpentry students getting good jobs in the furniture making industry, and tailoring students finding work in clothing factories and fashion houses. Several graduates return to their original villages, where their skills will be useful.

Infirmary Maintenance

Infirmary at Buddha Academy
Infirmary at Buddha Academy

Buddha Academy Boarding School is also concerned with the health of the children in its care. When they first arrive at the school, many of the children are malnourished and ill.  More severe medical problems are dealt with at a hospital, but the well- equipped school clinic looks after the daily needs of the children and copes with all minor illnesses. The children are generally very healthy. Over 600 children and 70 staff use the clinic, with daily visits from 25 – 35 children..

Recently the growing school population has resulted in the hiring of a second full time nurse. The good news here is that the young lady hired was a student of Buddha Academy herself, and has now returned to help the institution which gave her such a good start in life.

In 2014, TRAS completed funding of the vocational training and infirmary maintenance.  We thank all the donors and volunteers who supported the children during our partnership for over 20 years and wish the school every success in the future.

Little Flowers Crèche, Dharamsala, India

Little Flowers Crèche cares for the babies and toddlers of Tibetan government employees in Dharamsala.  40 children are cared for by three ayas (caregivers).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made his home in the steep, crowded little town of upper Dharamsala since escaping from Tibet in 1959. His Tibetan Government-in-Exile is housed in a rabbit warren of buildings, along with the beautiful Tibetan Library and Archives which attract many western visitors. What the visitors may not see is the small school for the children of the government employees, and they are even less likely to look up to the second floor where the Little Flowers Crèche plays its vital role.

Many young Tibetans who have done well in the Tibetan settlement schools gravitate to Dharamsala to work in the government offices and to teach in the schools nearby. When they have children of their own, the women, after their two-month maternity leave, must return to work. Very few of them have family nearby to care for their babies, so the Little Flowers Crèche was created. Today it continues to play a vital role in the well-being of these Tibetan families. Salaries for Tibetans are minimal, and living costs are high in Dharamsala, so it is imperative that the women keep working.

Important though it is, the Little Flowers Crèche has no permanent source of funding. The parents pay a small fee. The Kashag (Tibetan Parliament in exile) and the Tibetan Department of Health give a grant towards nutrition, but the Crèche depends largely on donations. Parents have told TRAS that the Crèche is indispensible, yet too small to attract the donations that some of the larger Tibetan schools receive.

40 children are in the Crèche at present.   In the March following their third birthday, the children move into the little school downstairs.

TRAS supported the Crèche for many years completing the project in 2013.