End of year update 2022
Tashi Delek, Season’s Greetings to all supporters of Manjushree Vidyapith.
We are very glad to report that the challenges of 2020-21 have abated this year and Manjushree is making excellent progress in several ways. Illnesses have reduced and classes have been functioning more normally. In addition, the residents of Manjushree have a new health clinic for on-site treatment, instead of relying on the local hospital all the time. A new kitchen has been built and food is no longer cooked in pans on the floor. The older students have been able to start their higher education in college as normal and FMVSO has continued to support them in ways outlined below, including providing laptops to the starting college students. As we mentioned in last year’s newsletter, we have forged excellent relationships with new donors in the USA, working together to achieve all these things. FMVSO continues to collaborate with LTP Foundation in the US (thanks to A-Z Foundation) and with Gurmukh and Gurushabd from their New Mexico Kundalini Yoga base. We also keep in close contact with other generous sponsors worldwide. The coordination between donors has been a major success in recent years, and transformational for Manjushree.
Let’s now dive into more detail. We are grateful to the older students of Manjushree for sending material for this newsletter, and it is heartwarming to read their first-hand accounts of the difference we are all making to so many lives.
The new kitchen
As two students wrote last year “Our kitchen building is almost complete, we are doing the interior now. It will provide us with a bigger kitchen, a spacious dining room and a separate dining room for the teachers, some staff quarters and guest rooms.”
Well, it is now fully completed and in use by all the staff and children. This is a very important development, and together with increased funding for better quality food it raises standards in the very important area of nutrition which in turn contributes to better health for the children.
The new clinic
With more than 250 children living close together, all susceptible to many infections and diseases, we can see why this was much needed and will make a huge difference.
This expensive facility was funded in part by FMVSO but mainly by money raised by LTP Foundation in the USA, including their great success in persuading the charity arm of Deerfield Management Company, a healthcare private equity fund in New York City, to provide major grants towards supporting the healthcare of children at Manjushree.
What is especially gratifying is that it is staffed by ex-students of Manjushree who trained as nurses and were funded through their training by FMVSO. Your donations are having a wonderful impact. The clinic is led by Namge Lhamu who was an orphan at Manjushree in the years 2002-2012 then went to college in India to train as a nurse, funded by FMVSO. In year 2017 she returned to Manjushree and she has led, most enthusiastically and skillfully, the establishment of the clinic. Namge also acts as a major conduit of communication with FMVSO and with donors in the USA.
Playground for the younger children
This is a wonderful development. During a visit earlier this year, Gurmukh and Gurushabd noticed that the younger children had no playground at all, not even a swing or slide. The older children enjoy football, netball and other sports but the youngsters had nothing specific for their age group. So our friends immediately began to fundraise and they acquired the necessary donations very rapidly indeed. The playground was also built very quickly and is already in full use. You can see and hear the excitement of the children on the video below.
FMVSO have not been onsite since 2019 and we very much look forwards to doing so next Autumn. Very well done to Gurmukh and Gurushabd for driving this wonderful new development. Various forms of play is essential to children’s learning.
School and education
FMVSO continues to provide financial support for teacher salaries, which nevertheless remain quite low compared with local and national levels. As part of the 5-year plan formulated jointly with Manjushree and US donors, we aim to help raise salaries further, and also to help fund recruitment of additional teachers. There are two aspects to this. More recently, teaching has been started for classes 9 and 10, and we now need to provide teachers for years 11-12. At the moment, the students are educated from Nursery level through to class 10 (equivalent to our GCSE’s), then they have to attend classes at Tawang High School. There has been insufficient money to pay for teachers for these upper years. In addition, there is a skills shortage especially in teaching maths and sciences to the upper years. We are glad to report that the science laboratories that were built a few years ago are now being equipped and recruitment of teachers will begin. Though there still is insufficient money to offer classes for all those upper years, at least the journey to doing so has begun.
This year Manjushree has a total of 14 students going on to higher education in college. 10 are attending Shillong College to study Batchelor in Arts degrees. They have rented a house and are staying together. Shillong is in north east India and relatively close to the state of Arunachal Pradesh where Manjushree is located. One other student has gone much farther afield. She was under the science main stream in her 12th year and she is now studying physiotherapy in Bengaluru in south India on a 4.5 year course. Three students are preparing to take medical entrance exams, a very tough and competitive arena, and we wish them success.
FMVSO fundraise for laptops for students
Manjushree has a small computer room and older students are getting used to computer technology. To some degree, they are now accessing educational material online to help their learning and revision. Once they go to college however, they absolutely must have access to laptops, yet this has been difficult for them. The lockdowns and remote teaching emphasized the need. So, FMVSO has stepped up. Gráinne’s daughter Róisín, led a specific ‘Technology for Teens’ fundraise of £7500 to provide laptops for every Manjushree student who was to start college this year. The initial phase of the fundraise online got us to more than 80% of the amount required, then Róisín took the initiative to attract more funding. In September, Silvestar Baliyski and Róisín cycled the length of the UK to raise funds for FMVSO. It took them sixteen days, and we cheered them on as they peddled and shared the FMVSO story with people they met on the way and friends/followers online. Here is a short account of their experience below.
Cycling to raise money for FMVSO laptops for teens campaign by Rosin
Cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats was something we always wanted to do, and last September, we finally had the time and motivation to do it.
This year an unprecedented number of Year 12 students from Manjushree took the next step in their educational journey and left home to attend college in other cities.
Having had the privilege to study in Europe, we both realized the opportunities and confidence young people develop from attending third-level education. However, transitioning from secondary school to a more independent learning and living situation is challenging, even when security and resources are readily available, as was in our case. Over the years, it has been unimaginably difficult for Manjushree teenagers to transition from their small Himalayan school to large institutions in crowded cities. However MV and FMVSO have worked together with former pupils to prepare those who excel in school to seek further education.
As part of improving continued educational opportunities, FMVSO ran a campaign earlier this year to ensure that each student moving to third level education would have a personal laptop to aid their studies, complete assignments, connect to the wider world, to learn and to create. When the campaign ended £1,000 short of its goal to buy 15 laptops, we knew it was time to lace up our shoes and get cycling!
We packed our tandem bike in a makeshift cardboard box the night before and headed to Lands End without really knowing what was instore. With little to no experience cycling a tandem, it took a few days for us to reach a good pace. The rolling hills of Cornwall and continuous rain didn't help, but the excitement kept our spirits high as we laughed and sang songs before completely crashing in the tent each night. Slowly, we headed North enjoying local food and drinks along the way. Silvestar particularly liked the Somerset cider, and once we made it to Inverness in Scotland, he sniffed out the best bowl of Cullen Skink. We had pains in places we had never experienced and went through a whole pot of tiger-balm, but it felt amazing. Sticking to small B roads and tracks, we enjoyed the countryside, the smells, the animals, the ever-changing landscape, and the accents! While the trip was both physically and mentally enduring, it was also a total break from reality. Our brains were purely fixated on peddling, eating and sleeping, and with our phones saved for emergencies, the 'noise' of regular life disappeared.
What struck us most over the sixteen days was the kindness and generosity of people. Those who welcomed us into their homes, listened to our story, shared theirs, donated, offered us food, cleaned our clothes and helped when we had bike trouble (of which there were a few). We met such wonderful people, some we knew, but many we didn't. These moments of genuine, human connection reminded me of the time I visited Tawang at eighteen years old and the warmth I felt from those around me. For us, this adventure confirmed that caring for one another and hearing each other are two essential underpinning threads of humanity that connect us across cultures and continents.
Silvestar and I would like to thank everyone involved with this fundraiser, and we look forward to making a journey to Tawang soon, though we will most likely choose a different mode of transport!
Several of the students who benefited from the laptops have sent messages of gratitude, copied below.
My name is Lobsang Nawang. I am studying in BA 1st year SANKARDEV COLLEGE SHILLONG, Meghalaya. And I love to travel and explore new places and I also love to play football with friends. And my aim is to become a photographer. I also enjoy photography very much. I like to take portraits of people and animals.
I wish to thank FMVSO For providing us with a laptop when we were going to college through your program called ‘TECHNOLOGY FOR KIDS’.I feel this has been a great gift to us. With this I could do many things which I have not experienced in my school days.
In college we have to make lots of project work and assignments and submit to our professors. And I have been able to search through internet and make project work easily and on time. I could search all the materials needed for my work from internet.
It has been useful with other work also. As I enjoy photography, I could easily save my photos for my future work and edit through my laptop. I feel all the college student should have a laptop, but it is very rare to have a laptop or afford in Tawang.
This has made my college life easier and interesting.
I am in BA 1St year in SANKARDEV College Shillong Meghalaya, and I have taken political science honors because political science is very interesting subject and getting the knowledge about politics. And I like to study about politics. And my aim is to become a teacher. And my hobbies are to read books and play Guitar.
Firstly, I wish to thank FMVSO members for your kind support for providing us laptop it is very useful in my education for quick and easy to store information which I cannot store in my phone. It is also helping me in making my assignment. And I am also using laptop to improve my typing skills and editing other things like photos and videos. I have also been working on Microsoft word and excel as I think this will be very beneficial in future. I am trying to improve my skill on these things.
I also use it to watch movies and news from all over the world when I am not studying to keep myself busy.
In these last few months at college, I felt all the college students should have a laptop though it is not possible for everyone. This has been very helpful and I am enjoying every bit of it.
My name is Thinley Gombu and now I'm studying in college, B.A 1st year and I have taken my honors in Political Science. I love to study about politics and power from domestic, international and comparative perspectives, along with studying, I and my friends enjoy a lot of other things, we traveled to lots of places, and had new experiences, basically I'm enjoying my college life. I have so many dreams to do but my main aim is to become Circle Officer (C.O) of our district. And I want to help other people, like our Lama Sir is doing. Lama Sir always give us moral support and showing heartfelt humility and respect makes us aware that someone really does care about us.
A few months ago, we got laptop from FMVSO Members. Firstly, I would like to thank all the FMVSO Members for their wonderful laptop. It is very useful for our education; it helps us to stay organized and remember the college work and we can easily review our work all in one place. I do research on laptop which makes us to write assignment easy. It is also useful in our college presentation. Along with education it is also useful for other activities, like I'm very interested in photograph and video editing, in my free time I use to do photo editing and video editing in laptop. I'm doing very well with my studies.
So, lasty once again my thanks to all the FMVSO Members, and always keep supporting us, we will make all the Manjushree Family proud.
My name is Kong Sarmu and I am 19 years old. I am pursuing my B.A (hons) in history subject from Sankardev college Shillong, Meghlaya.
Firstly, I would like to thank FMVSO and Roisin for working hard towards the betterment of the children of Manjushree Family. This year through their program laptop of seniors, we were able to get a laptop.
And I feel this has been very beneficial for me. I have just completed my first semester exam. And during this semester, this laptop has been a lot of help for me. In college we were given lots of project work and assignment. I could easily search the materials needed for my project work.
I have been able to attend some online classes and get notes from teachers easily. I have been able to make my assignment better and get reference from internet. We also had to present a presentation on any topic from our subject and through laptop and technology I was able to make a power point presentation and could present it in class easily. I personally feel this laptop and technology has made my college life easier.
As I have been far away from home, I have been able to keep in touch with my family from school and relatives.
Both FMVSO and Manjushree Vidyapith wish to express a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all sponsors of Manjushree Vidyapith. We thank you for keeping your hearts open and your generosity flowing so that we can continue to support these children, their teachers and the staff who diligently serve the children.
Your continued support is needed.
Your continued support is hugely appreciated.
Your continued support is never taken for granted.