How the school was started
The Hannah Memorial Academy is the vision of Jason Lepcha who was inspired to build a school in memory of Hannah Foster.
The school, in the Dhooteriah Tea Garden, is a lasting legacy to Hannah Foster, a 17-year old Hampshire girl who was murdered in the West End District of Southampton in March 2003 by Maninder Pal Singh Kohli.
Just over a year after Hannah’s tragic death, Jason Lepcha, a local taxi driver with a good understanding of English, was hired as a driver in Darjeeling by the chief murder suspect. He subsequently responded to a national appeal for information that led to the arrest of Mr. Kohli in Darjeeling in July 2004. In return for providing the police with the vital information, Jason received a reward of £4569 from the Hampshire Police.
Jason is an educated man from a modest background but he always had a dream to provide free education for the children in the Dhooteriah Tea Garden, one of the country’s poorest regions. Instead of spending the reward on himself, Jason used the money and help from the local villagers to secure a plot of land suitable to build a school on.
In 2005 Jason’s vision became a reality, with the opening of an English school in the Dhooteriah Tea Garden. The school is situated in the village of Santi Gram, 21 km from Darjeeling town, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Today, Jason and his wife Isabella manage and administer the school under an Indian trust, with the support of 7 local Trustees. Most importantly, the school is named after Hannah and serves as living memory to her while helping the regions children to get a good start in life.