Over the last decade, we have supported education for thousands of children in impoverished rural villages in the districts of Pratapgarh and Allahabad in North India. Prior to our efforts, many of these schools held all their classes outside on the ground or in dilapidated thatched huts. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade attended classes outside under the trees, and, consequently, there was no school when it rained or during very hot weather.
Education Advocacy initiatives include:
Textbooks, notebooks, chalkboards, and even pencils were in short supply; and audiovisual aids, reference books, art supplies, and other equipment of modern classrooms were impossible dreams. Teachers held outside full-time jobs to supplement insufficient and frequently unpaid salaries, and thus often missed classes. Himalayan Institute funding enabled the schools to build new classrooms and purchase vitally needed equipment, books, and teaching supplies. Salaries for teachers ensured ongoing classes.
Tuition fees for schools in rural northern India, while minimal by US standards, averaging around fifty cents, are prohibitively expensive for many village children. Not surprisingly, many children dropped out long before finishing the 8th grade. Support from the Himalayan Institute provided scholarships for dozens of village students, paying for their tuition and school supplies.
Preserving Ancient Culture & Wisdom
Education and spirituality are two values that are central to the mission of the Himalayan Institute, and through our work in North India we have been able to support and preserve the traditional Sanskrit teachings of the sages.
Preserving Ancient Culture & Wisdom initiatives include:
In the district of Jaunpur in North India, the Himalayan Institute has supported a pathashala, or traditional Sanskrit school. For half a century, this school has been an active institution for the indigenous arts and sciences of ancient India. It is one of the rare schools where Sanskrit is the medium for teaching and speaking. With the Institute’s support, the Sanskrit school built new classrooms and established a library.
Himalayan Institute funding also provided lodging and boarding to students studying in the traditional gurukula style, in which students study scripture and practice spiritual discipline while living with their teachers.
These efforts have helped to reintroduce subjects such as Vedic astrology, Vastu Shastra (Vedic architecture), and the science of mantra and rituals. The ancient wisdom of the sages is preserved in the hearts and minds of those who study here.
Natural Disaster Relief
International humanitarian efforts are a vital part of the work of the Himalayan Institute, and our service has gone beyond the established projects we have in India, Mexico, and Cameroon. In addition to these projects, the Himalayan Institute has provided disaster relief to rural areas in North India and saved thousands of lives.
From June 14–17, 2013, torrential monsoon rains and a massive water eruption from the Chorabari Glacier led to devastating flash floods and landslides across the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, North India. Thousands of homes and structures, along with roads and bridges, were washed away, stranding over 100,000 villagers and pilgrims from around India.
The epicenter of this disaster was the ancient sacred shrine of Kedarnath, which was virtually destroyed by the floods and ensuing landslide. Beyond Kedarnath, a slew of neighboring sacred shrines saw utter devastation, including Badrinath, Joshimath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and the Valley of Flowers region.
Many of the affected regions in the Himalayas have historical significance to the Himalayan Institute, its founder, and its members, who immediately felt called to action. In a short period, funds were raised that supported thousands in need through medical relief efforts and reconstruction aid.
The Himalayan Institute raised over $20,000 to help support the victims of this natural disaster. Thank you for your support!