Article: Ram Varma

Ram with children from the school

Ram Varma’s account of his visit to the school

April 2011 was my first visit to the school, and what a spiritual journey it was.

I went to meet Jason Lepcha the school’s founder, and the schoolchildren. Also, as a trustee of the HMA charity with responsibility for our finances, I wanted to see how our donations are being used. I need not have worried, the money has been well spent. The building work has been carried out to a high standard, there are excellent classrooms for the kids, a kitchen is being build, there are clean toilets and a great staffroom.

Darjeeling is a place of the Gods; the scenery takes your breath away. There are lush green hills in the midst of some of the highest mountains in the world. People are early to rise. They meditate and exercise at 5am in the morning before their day’s work. They are early to bed too, as many of them work in the tourist industry or the tea gardens both of which require a very early start.

Within this, many of the children from the poorest families do not have much going for them; not enough food, some have no parents. But they will happily travel for an hour and a half each way through a hilly area to get to school. They are disciplined too; as soon as the bell goes they assemble, and very quickly have their heads down for the day’s learning. Some children come without lunch because their parents cannot afford the food, but they simply love going to school. And critically, the education they are receiving will give them a chance of progressing beyond the tea gardens and taxi ranks. One day I will be thrilled to learn that one has reached University.

So, the money is certainly being spend well on this project that has come to mean so much to me (even more so since my visit). I fell in love with both the children and the place. It is going so well that kids from the “rich” fee paying schools wish to go to HMA because of our academic results.

If you do get the chance to go and see this beautiful school that Jason Lepcha and our charity have built, please take it. It’s a place of great spirituality, Darjeeling. The kids of the region make it my goal to help them achieve theirs.