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