Hope for Children Project

Project 349/350 November 1, 2023 to October 31, 2025

The “Voice of Children (VOC)” project has brought significant positive changes to selected villages by addressing the educational needs of socially and economically disadvantaged children. Community involvement and commitment are crucial for the program’s sustainability and success, resulting in reduced dropout rates, increased opportunities for girls and disadvantaged children, halted child marriages, improved access to services for poor families, and enhanced child participation in addressing their issues. Check our website for more on the VOC project.

The Voice for Children and the Hope for Children projects are run by two TRAS partners, AMAN, in the Almora district and VIMARSH, in the Nainital district, both in the state of Uttarakhand, northern India. These two organizations have been committed to bringing access to education and health in rural villages for the past 16 years.

The “Hope for Children“ project aims to replicate VOC learning and success in neighboring villages facing geographical challenges and lacking basic amenities. These villages, like the initial project area, are mired in severe poverty. Expanding the project’s scope is essential to provide crucial assistance to children, ensuring their access to quality education. This project is focused on integrating the education system and creating opportunities for vulnerable children, including those from single-parent households, impoverished backgrounds, girls, and socially marginalized families

Furthermore, empowering women, children, and adolescent girls’ groups’ stands as a critical step in addressing issues related to quality education, while providing skills training for youth can unlock doors to higher education, employment, and improved quality of life for marginalized sections of society. The Hope for Children project has the potential to make a substantial contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 4 & 5(SDG-4 & 5) and advancing equal access to quality education for all, irrespective of their socio-economic status or gender.

The villages are situated in the Hawalbag block of Almora District and Betalghat block of Nainital District. In the villages, there is a notable absence of adequate educational facilities, as schools suffer from insufficient resources, resulting in a scarcity of quality education and subsequently limiting opportunities for the youth.

Healthcare facilities in remote hill villages are limited or inadequate. Residents have to travel long distances to access medical care, which is particularly challenging during emergencies. Limited economic opportunities in the villages lead to high levels of unemployment and underemployment. It creates poverty and a lack of basic amenities.

Gender-based violence, including domestic violence and sexual harassment, is common in the proposed villages. Women and girls are reluctant to report such incidents due to social stigma and lack of support services. There is a lack of awareness about the importance of prenatal and postnatal care. Women do not seek medical assistance during pregnancy until complications arise. Traditional beliefs and practices often influence maternal health decisions. Traditional beliefs and practices sometimes hinder women from seeking medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Malnutrition among children, girls, and pregnant women is a concern, as the hilly terrain and poverty make it difficult to access a balanced diet. In villages, there is a lack of resources and support to provide information on sexual health, reproductive biology, contraception, and responsible sexual behavior to adolescents. This has led to an increase in teenage pregnancies, which not only hinders girls’ education and overall development but also poses risks to the health of both the girls and their newborns, sometimes even endangering their lives. 

Women in these villages often have limited participation in local governance and decision-making processes, which hinders their ability to address their own needs and concerns. The villages are prone to natural disasters such as landslides and flash floods. Women, girls and children are particularly vulnerable during these crises, facing the risk of displacement and loss of livelihoods.

Many families rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and children often have to assist their parents in farming activities. This is leading to a loss of educational opportunities and child labor issues. Due to the rugged terrain and limited resources, children in hill villages have limited access to recreational activities and sports facilities, impacting their overall development. There is a lack of awareness about child rights and government programs designed to support children in these remote areas. This hinders efforts to address their specific needs.

Villages that will be impacted with this project: See map here

VillageDistrictNo. of householdPopulationChildren Population (0 to 18 years)
   Male PopulationFemale populationTotal population Scheduled Caste. Population  
PankoteAlmora76126181307113107 
BajgalAlmora48881182063945 
RikheAlmora601071442512995 
VadlaAlmora7714919934878108 
ChaunaAlmora190406495901312159 
Unchakot TalaNainital106317305622327112 
BajediNainital168417471888168100 
KhairaliNainital48991082072358 
Unchakot MallaNainital114286289575137172 
Total8871995231043051226956 

Proposed plan of action:

Education Support and Learning Center for Children

Our initiative aims to establish education support and learning centers that cater to the comprehensive development of children aged 3 to 14. These 11 village centers will operate with the assistance of dedicated facilitators and offer a range of facilities to underprivileged children.

Active Learning: We are dedicated to promoting active learning, creating an environment where children actively participate in the learning process through hands-on activities, problem-solving, and critical thinking exercises.

Effective Communication: We recognize that effective communication skills are paramount for success in all aspects of life. Our centers will assist children in honing their speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities.

Building Self-Confidence: Fostering self-confidence is an integral component of a child’s growth. Our education support centers will provide a safe and nurturing space for children to develop confidence in their own capabilities.

Equal Learning Opportunities: Ensuring that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, has equitable access to quality education and learning opportunities is of utmost importance to us.

Extracurricular Activities: Alongside academics, we will offer a range of extracurricular activities to help children explore their interests and talents beyond the traditional classroom setting.

Group Learning: Collaborative learning experiences, such as group projects and discussions, will enhance children’s social skills and promote teamwork, fostering a holistic development approach.

By continually expanding and supporting these education centers, we aspire to positively impact the overall development of children, and will be providing them with a well-rounded education that equips them for future success.

Introducing Quarterly Education Enhancement Sessions for Parents

To ensure the optimal operation of our Education Support and Learning Centers, we will introduce our Quarterly Education Enhancement Sessions for Parents. These gatherings are designed to facilitate open communication between parents and educators, allowing collaboratively nurture child’s academic journey. During these sessions, we will not only provide updates on child’s educational progress but also engage in meaningful discussions about their strengths, areas for improvement, and any other factors that might impact their learning and growth. Together, we can create an environment that fosters a child’s development and success.

Sunday Classes for Students for 9th to 12th Standard

The upper primary and secondary schools in the selected villages are facing a pressing challenge: a significant shortage of subject teachers. This shortage of qualified educators and the constant turnover of teaching staff present a substantial threat to the educational advancement of students. Consequently, students are grappling with difficulties in subjects like science, mathematics, and English due to the absence of effective guidance. Often, the anxiety associated with these subjects’ acts as a catalyst for student dropouts.

To address this issue, we propose a solution: connecting students with volunteer teachers through live and interactive classes. At times, subject experts will be motivated to visit the center and conduct Sunday classes in person, while at other times, we will organize online classes using technology to ensure consistent access to quality education for the students.

We introduce two class centers, one located in the VIMARSH area and the other in the AMAN area. These centers aim to benefit students from the 9th to 12th grades. In addition to academic studies, our dedicated experts will guide students in identifying suitable career paths based on their interests, skills, and abilities.

Digital Skills for Children and Women

In today’s rapidly evolving world, digital skills have become indispensable. Ensuring that both children and women have equitable access to and can cultivate these skills is paramount for their personal and professional advancement. To address this need, we propose the establishment of two digital skill centers in these areas, which will offer a comprehensive curriculum designed to empower individuals with the following competencies:

Foundational Computer Proficiency: Equipping learners with essential knowledge of hardware, software, and operating systems. This includes instructing them on how to proficiently utilize computers, keyboards, and mice, as well as providing a basic computer course to kickstart their digital journey.

Online Safety Awareness: Empowering children, girls, and women with the tools to navigate the digital landscape safely. This entails educating them on recognizing and thwarting online threats, such as cyberbullying, phishing attempts, and inappropriate content, ensuring their online experiences are secure.

Efficient Typing Skills: Acknowledging the importance of efficient typing skills for effective computer use, communication, and future career prospects. We emphasize teaching participants how to type efficiently and accurately, a crucial skill in the digital age.

Digital Literacy: Fostering the ability to navigate the vast digital information landscape with confidence. Participants will learn how to find and evaluate information on the internet, honing their skills in distinguishing between reliable and unreliable sources.

Multimedia Competence: Introducing the basics of creating and editing digital media, encompassing images, audio, and video. This empowers individuals to engage creatively with digital content and express themselves effectively.

Digital Communication Proficiency: Enhancing communication and networking opportunities by equipping participants with proficiency in email, social media, and online networking tools. These skills enable individuals to connect, collaborate, and build valuable relationships in the digital realm.

By establishing these digital skill centers and implementing this holistic curriculum, we aim to bridge the digital divide, promote inclusivity, and provide the younger generation and women with the tools they need to thrive in our increasingly digitalized world.

Education for All: Children’s Fellowship Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on rural villages, particularly on their health and education systems.  This crisis has had long-lasting effects on our society, particularly concerning livelihoods and employment, which in turn poses a substantial threat to children’s education. Children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are especially vulnerable to dropping out of school, engaging in child labor, or falling victim to human trafficking. It’s important to recognize that a child who drops out of school is at risk of becoming a child laborer.

To mitigate the risk of children dropping out of school, we propose to provide fellowships to support vulnerable children. In previous years, our fellowship program, aimed at covering school-related expenses, has proven effective in retaining children in schools. Therefore, we propose to continue this initiative by offering school-related expense fellowships to 100 children each year. This fellowship will cover various essential aspects of their education, including school fees, learning materials, notebooks, school uniforms, and shoes, among other necessities. The distribution of fellowships will be determined on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that the specific needs of each selected child are addressed through collaborative discussions.

Village Gender Education Resource Centre (VGERC)

 In each area, we propose the establishment of Village Gender Education Resource Centers (VGERC). VGERC are essential in bridging the gender gap in rural areas and fostering positive social and economic changes. They create a supportive environment where girls and women can access resources, build skills, and gain the confidence to challenge gender disparities and contribute to their communities’ development. The specific functions and activities undertaken by VGRCs:

Gender Awareness and Education: VGERC will take the lead in organizing workshops, training sessions, and awareness campaigns aimed at educating adolescent boys and girls, women and community on matters pertaining to gender, women’s rights, and the significance of gender parity.

Access to Information: VGERC will function as information hubs, affording women access to vital resources, government initiatives, and services related to health, education, legal rights, and financial literacy.

Legal Aid and Advocacy: VGERC will be instrumental to women encountering gender-based violence or discrimination. It will also engage in advocacy efforts to promote women’s rights and gender equality at the local level

Health, Hygiene, and Sex Education: These centers will actively work toward enhancing women’s and girls’ access to healthcare services while promoting hygiene practices and providing comprehensive sex education to improve their overall well-being. This includes the organization of educational sessions will focus on sexual health and awareness. VGERC will also develop educational materials on gender and caste equality, which will be distributed to educational support and learning centers.

Child and Maternal Health: VGERC will prioritize the improvement of maternal and child health by arranging antenatal care programs, immunization drives, and nutritional education for mothers.

Awareness about Gender-Based Violence: VGERC will conduct impactful campaigns aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence.

In sum, Village Gender Education Resource Centers will serve as pivotal institutions in rural areas, fostering gender equality and empowering girls and women to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of their communities.

Bal Mela

This initiative aims to nurture creativity and boost self-confidence in young individuals. To foster the sharing of children’s experiences and the expression of their hidden talents, we will organize Children’s Fairs in both regions.

Community Awareness program

Regular monthly Meetings will be arranged with women’s groups to enhance community awareness regarding education, healthcare, hygiene, local self-governance, nutrition, information about government welfare programs, and the National Livelihood Rural Mission. This initiative aims to expand the knowledge base of women’s groups and inspire them to collaborate in addressing local challenges. These all meetings will organize in the VOC field areas women groups and new proposed villages. Sharing and exchange of the programs will strengthen the all the village women groups.

Engaging with Children and Youth: Monthly meetings will be scheduled with children and youth to discuss topics related to education, health, hygiene, and environmental issues Its primary role will be to educate members about safe and healthy living while advocating for timely healthcare services from the government. These all meetings will organize in the VOC field areas Children groups and new proposed villages. Sharing and exchange of the programs will be strengthening the all the village children groups.

Capacity Building of the Staff

AMAN and VIMARSH will schedule monthly meetings and an annual training program to enhance team capacity and ensure the effective execution of the program. Additionally, in the second and fourth years, we will facilitate experience-sharing visits for the Hope for Children team. These visits will provide valuable opportunities for mutual learning and witnessing the program’s impact.

This project will run from December 1, 2023 to October 31, 2025. The committed total is $63,000 – a mere $63.00 per child

Hope for Children

Project 349/350 – November 1, 2023 to October 31, 2025

One of the major projects of TRAS was the Voice of Children (VOC) Education Project run by AMAN and VIMARSH, two Indian non-profits in Almora and Nainital districts of northern India. The outcome of this recently completed project in eleven mountain villages displayed remarkable success in reducing school dropouts, child labour, and child marriages. Health, sanitation, community engagement, women’s rights and education for girls have all improved.  The project is now self-sustaining.

AMAN and VIMARSH are determined to use their experience and expertise to help more remote villages in the same way and have already consulted the women and the village elders in nine selected villages, who urgently want the Hope for Children project to begin. These villages are mired in severe poverty. There is a notable absence of adequate educational facilities. Hope for Children will provide crucial assistance to children, ensuring their access to quality education. Better health, sanitation and skills training for youth will unlock doors to higher education, employment, and improved quality of life for marginalized sections of society. Empowering women, children, and adolescent girls will reduce the prevalent violence against women, child labour and child marriages.

TRAS is excited to support Hope for Children with its very real chance of building success upon previous success. This is grassroots development at its best. We have agreed to an initial two-year project and are beginning our fundraising efforts to support it.

Many more details will emerge as the programs gear up and we’ll be reporting fully on it in the next newsletter. Meanwhile, we ask our donors to get behind Hope for Children to bring lasting change for the better to nine more villages. It will only happen with your support.

The cost of this project for the 956 children in nine villages will be $31,000 a year – a mere $33.00 per child for the year.

TRAS Scholarship Fund – Success to Date

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.

Tenzin A 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.

VOC scholarship interviews

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.”

Tanuja T. with her proud mother and brother
Soni M.

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.

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!