Update - June 2015
Whilst the earthquake in Nepal has captured the international news and seen a major effort by Juniper Trust and other charities life has also been difficult for villagers further in the western Himalayas in the Zanskar area of Ladakh, India. There has been a terrible Spring in the Zanskar with many properties destroyed by heavy flooding due to rapid snow melt and unseasonably bad rains. Since 2010 Juniper Trust has been supporting a school in a village called Ichar in the Zanskar valley. The school itself was badly damaged by flood water itself was badly flooded but fortunately all the children are safe. Restoration is proceeding slowly but the remoteness of the area causes great problems. All bridges in the area have been destroyed and the nearest motorable track now is at least two days walk away and that trek is pretty hazardous. JT is helping to raise £2000 to repair the school and to help the school restock with books and other basic materials that we would take for granted. Any donation to help the Juniper Trust with its support to Ichar School would be really welcomed. Currently there are plans to visit the school in 2016.
Ichar is a small isolated village situated in the heart of the Zanskar valley. Whilst a motorable track has recently opened, connecting Ichar to Padum, it is vulnerable to landslides and snow, and only passable for about 4 or 5 months of the year. In winter, the community has to be completely self-sufficient with dried dung providing the main fuel for cooking and heating. The Government School in Ichar caters for about 60 students from the village and the nearby settlements. The students range from kindergarten age to about 15, with a 2:1 ratio of girls to boys. The school has to close for the winter due to the extreme cold and re-opens at the end of May.
The school buildings are well-built and the staff are determined to improve educational standards, but they are short of every resource western schools take for granted. Additionally, the village children need basic support in terms of clothing suitable for the harsh environment.
In 2010 the Juniper Trust donated over £1,000, which was used to purchase and, after an arduous journey in June, deliver 84 pairs of sturdy children’s’ shoes, 200+ notebooks, pens, pencils, solar-powered calculators, a range on other stationery and educational supplies. The delivery also included games equipment for netball, cricket and football, as well as some individual gifts for the children. In 2012 a further £1000 was raised to replenish supplies along with toothpaste and toothbrushes for all the children. Early in 2103 a further donation enabled the purchase of 30 mattresses for the children who board at the school throughout the summer and in 2014 Juniper Trust gave the school £500 to spend on books and start establishing a small library for the students.
The following is an extract from an update in October 2014, sent by Stanzin Gayzang, the Deputy Head of Ichar School.
“ The students have taken full advantage of the books and they are so useful for the teachers as well. With the cold weather setting in we are just finishing our final examinations and the pupils and teachers from outside the village are returning home for the winter. This year we are hoping to recruit a teacher for two months so that we can continue tuition for the village children. The school will open fully again next March/April when hopefully some of the passes will be open. We are really happy that the Juniper Trust will help us again in 2015”. With many wishes and Julley to you, Gayzang and all the students at Ichar”
The Juniper Trust is trying to raise £2000 to help repair the damaage caused by the floods in the spring of 2015 and to provide continuous supprt for the school.