The Rinchen Zangpo Society for Spiti Development is a non-government organization registered as a non-profit society with the Government of India, grassroots initiated by the people of Spiti in 1993 and was the first successful non-government organization in the district. The Society was established with a deep commitment to promote and propagate quality education among the poor children of Spiti and neighbouring area. The Society is also dedicated to providing modern educational facilities and to preserving their unique culture and traditions. In general, the Society wants to uplift the living standard for the people of the Spiti valley. Their mission is to offer young Spitians the best possible education as well as spiritual values and particularly to encourage education for girls at all levels.
The Society runs Munsel-ling School, which has approximately five hundred students, a branch school in Kaza with about three hundred students up to Class 5 and the Rewa school in Rongtonga which provides free education for girl children of poor families.
Their selection of students for the TRAS scholarship is based on the financial condition of the student’s family. Each year they receive many applications. In 2013 Rinchen Zangpo selected two students. Each student was awarded $1,000 yearly for three years. Since 2013 TRAS has been able to send $60,000, fifteen students graduated with degrees, and six are still studying.
From 2013 to 2023, four students have graduated with a BA’s, five with a BSc, one with a BSc and a BA in Teaching, one with a BSc in Mathematics, one with her Masters in Anthropology (the first girl in the Spiti valley to study this subject), one with her Master’s in Teaching, one with a Medical degree and one with a degree in Public Administration.
The first two students selected were Tenzin Y. and Tenzin A. Both young women attended Munsel-ling School until Class 10 and the Government School in Dharmsala for Classes 11 and 12.
Tenzin Y, is from a single parent family in Chicham Village, Spiti. Her dream was to become a teacher and she graduated with her Master’s in teaching in 2017. She is now teaching in her village.
Tenzin A, is from a poor family in Lahoul, Spiti. She also wanted to follow her dream and became a teacher. She graduated in 2016 with a Batchelor’s degree and is now teaching at Munsel-ling school.
Another young lady, Tashi T. was selected to receive a scholarship in 2015 and graduated with her BA degree and is now teaching in her village of Rangrik.
The Voice of Children (VOC) is based in Uttarakhand, North India and is comprised of two NGO’s, AMAN in Almora and VIMARSH in Nainital. In rural villages, education is often under-valued, and families would prefer that their children remain at home to work. Furthermore, the barriers to education including cost and distance are major deterrents. VOC has solved these issues with their Education Support Centres, Tuition Classes, and Computer Literacy programs and through gaining parental acceptance for the value of education. TRAS has supported the VOC Education Project since 2009. You can read more on the VOC under Projects at tras.ca/projects.
Since 2016 TRAS has been able to send $58,000 to the VOC Scholarship Fund, fifteen students have graduated and twelve are continuing their education.
Tanuja T. was one of the first students selected by the VOC in 2016. Tanuja is a resident of Village Dangikhola, Ramra District Almora, Uttarakhand. Her father is a private school teacher, and her mother is a helper at the Aganbadi Center (an integrated child development center). Her family’s income is $120.00US per month. Tanuja has three siblings, and her family could not afford the fees for Tanjula’s post-secondary education. Tanjula passed the entrance exam of Polytechnic in computer science and with the aid of the scholarship was able to enroll and graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Tanjula says “I am a high performing girl from an underprivileged background. Through the scholarship program, I had the opportunity to continue my higher studies despite financial constrictions. I am thankful to AMAN and TRAS for my education.”
Soni M. is an inspiring individual who is currently pursuing a degree in the Science stream from SSJ University in Almora, with a focus on Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. Despite being a bright student, Soni faced some challenges due to the language transition from Hindi, which was the medium of instruction during her 12th grade studies, to English, which is the language of instruction in her BSc program.
However, Soni’s dedication and hard work helped her overcome the language barrier. She is determined to excel in her studies and make the most of her educational opportunities. Soni’s academic journey began in a small remote village, and now she has moved to the city to pursue her higher education, showing her commitment to achieving her goals.
Apart from her academic pursuits, Soni has a passion for reading books. She understands the importance of education and literacy, which has led her to contribute to her community. Soni is actively involved in the Community Book Club library on a voluntary basis in Almora. This library is supported by the VOC and other like-minded groups, with the aim of providing access to books and educational resources for underprivileged students.
Soni’s story showcases her determination, resilience, and commitment to both persona growth and community service. Despite facing language challenges and coming from a humble background, she is striving to achieve academic success and make a positive impact on society.
Ruchi B. was selected in the fall of 2022 by the Voice of Children. Ruchi’s journey from a humble background in the village of Kesta (Daulaghat) to Almora City, where she is pursuing her BSc degree and aspiring to become a teacher, is truly inspiring. Despite facing financial obstacles, Ruchi’s commitment to education and determination to overcome challenges have been remarkable.
Having achieved first division in her intermediate exams from G.G.I. C. Daulaghat Almora, Ruchi’s academic excellence showcased her dedication to her studies and set the foundation for her higher education aspirations. However, with her father working as a farmer to support their family of seven, the financial resources were limited, making it difficult to afford the expenses associated with Ruchi’s education.
Undeterred by the financial constraints, Ruchi sought out a scholarship opportunity to continue her graduation in BSc. Through her connection with the AMAN organization working in her village, she discovered the TRAS-VOC Scholarship program. Ruchi confirmed her eligibility and started receiving the scholarship in 2022, which alleviated the burden of educational expenses. Her proactive approach and resourcefulness in finding support demonstrate her determination to overcome financial obstacles. Currently Ruchi is in her 3rd semester, studying for her BSc Biology.
The Dekyiling Tibetan Handicraft Centre – In 2016, the first two students selected from the Dekyiling Tibetan Handicraft Center were from poor and needy Tibetan families and had been sponsored by TRAS for many years for their basic schooling.
They each received a three-year scholarship and graduated with a BA in 2019.
Tenzin T. wrote “Your financial aid has made my educational journey easier and possible. I know my gratitude will never suffice for your kindness because I owe you, my future. However, this is all I can say, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and I assure you that your help and kindness will never go to waste.”
To date, TRAS has been able to support thirteen students with a total of $33,000 and seven students have graduated and six are continuing with their studies.
In the words of Tashi W. (BA, third year), “I am elated to share with you that I scored good marks (70%) in my previous exams, and I will keep trying to do my best in my coming days. I think I am very lucky … I am very thankful to you for your kind help.”
We are also very thankful to Tashi, as it was her hard work and dedication (not luck!) that led to her success!