SikkimHimalayanAcademy

Swati Saxena

Sneha Phalle - Mumbai | Akanksha Foundation Teacher

Look up sikkimhimalayanacademy.org for more information on this beautiful school. Run by the principal GumanSingh Gurang (lovingly known as GS amonst all) and his beautiful wife Maree, the school provides the children from very economically poor families a chance to study and build a future. SHA is the glimmer of hope for around 70 children from the nearby village sin the small village of Buriakhop in West Sikkim.

I still remember how Zangmu who was shy to even meet our team quickly gave in when exposed to the beautiful world of words. To say that SHA is a safe haven for kids where they are loved and let be; would be an understatement. It's a place where joyful and passionate learning thrives with a want amongst children to do well; to be well and pursue excellence in their own little ways. The days I was there, I was completely overwhelmed by the kind of value system the children exhibited; doing the right things when nobody was around. Probably that's what being a good human really means.


I remember the poetry they wrote in Slam Out Loud poetry sessions and still feel nostalgic about the beauty that was created effortlessly by children who showed truly what love and loving each other really feels like and looks like. I can't wait to come back and learn. Eternally grateful to SHA and Arnab for creating a small little world which is like a ray of sunshine in an often too dim a world.


- Jigyasa visited SHA in April 2015 and conducted a wonderful poetry workshop as part of her initiative called 'Slam Out Loud'

established their trust. I learnt a magical art of conversation with them. Them with their limited English vocabulary and me without any understanding of Nepali, we managed to communicate daily. And beautifully. Through the hand holding and chasing each other, we formed a special bond. Suddenly, the ‘Good morning/ night Miss’ turned to fist bumps and bro hugs.

The teachers provide tremendous support to every kid. The love, creativity and values inculcated are shown in the actions of all the children.  These amazing humans at SHA have been doing an incredible job of making children into responsible adults, while having fun along the way.​

A want to experience different school cultures, combined with a hunger for the mountains brought me to Sikkim Himalayan Academy. Situated in a quaint village, the school is full of welcoming teachers and students. The first day itself, I was exposed to the various talents acquired by the kids.  From here on, most evenings were spent with the kids playing the guitar or the piano, a few others singing beautifully and me trying to hum along. Their love and understanding of music at such young ages often left me gaping with awe.

I was surprised by the responsibility taken up by the kids for themselves and the ones younger to them. The kids knew the exact balance between friendliness and respect, enjoyment and discipline. I spent a lot of time answering their questions about life outside school. Their curiosity often led to deep conversations I wouldn’t imagine with 11 year olds. The smaller ones wouldn’t let go of my hand once they had 

Every Smile is our reward :) 

Don't you sometimes feel we are running like hamsters in a wheel. So fast and yet getting nowhere. Maybe it's time to slow the pace down. Take a deep breath and look around you. One such long breath has brought me to Sikkim. The land of lush greenery, adorable children and extremely polite people.  The first time I visited Sikkim was for the Goechala trek in 2014 and I fell head over heels for the place. I knew deep in my heart I would return someday and 2016 has found me yet again amongst the people I have learned to love deeply.

I believe that we are all born as butterflies, with the ability to spread our colourful wings and fly far and wide. Beautiful creatures meant to spread magic in the world. But somewhere in our daily monotonous lives, we have forgotten this and de-metamorphosed (yes, I just made that word up ;) ) into grubby caterpillars crawling our way through life. Throwing away the yokes of my professional life should have felt difficult, momentous perhaps. But it wasn't. Deep down it felt right. Walking away from the city was the best thing I have done. Nothing spells rejuvenation better than spending your days surrounded by beautiful children and watching them fill magic into the day.


When life seems to be pulling you down and the cares of the world seem too big for your weary shoulders, spend a few minutes with a child. Watch as he runs around, ever so curious about everything that is happening around him. Watch as he runs, falls, picks himself up and runs again. Talk to a child and watch an entire new universe unfold as he describes things seen by him. When it is a child deep in the mountains of Sikkim cut away from the city life and the exposure this brings, the magic is multiplied by a million times. Talks of presents and toys brings such a glimmer in those innocent eyes that you want to give them every possible thing to keep that smile and twinkle alive.Type your paragraph here.

​Puja Uchil, Mumbai

Jigyasa Labroo - Slam Out Loud | 2014 Teach for India fellow

Testimonials

My first day as a school teacher and I enter the class with more nervousness that I would like to show. It's only English with class II students. Piece of cake, right? Yet I had a twinge of nervousness that gave me happy butterflies in my stomach. Would the kids like me? Would they be able to understand me? The students put all my fears to rest in a minute. The sing song greeting of my childhood sailed to my ears. “Good morning Miss”. I felt like I was again playing teacher as I did in my childhood with my friends. Text books out and it was business at once. Teaching the children felt more comfortable than I could possible imagine. Watching the children eyes light up as they learn something new is the best reward for a teacher and I basked in the glory of the moment each time I saw the twinkle.


I entered that classroom to teach the children a few lessons in English. But the lessons I learnt from them is countless.

A meaningful volunteer experience was on my mind since long, and as soon as I got to know about Sikkim Himalayan Academy (from internet), I immediately contacted them on their Facebook page. Fast forward a few days, after a train journey and changing a couple of taxis, I found myself in what could be called a dream Himalayan village.
In this quiet, scenic place, the only noise you will hear would be the one made by kids. It’s soothing. It fits in perfectly amidst birds chirping, leaves rustling and insects buzzing. On my first day in school, they were shy and I also felt like intervening in their private world. But, just about in 3 days, we were reading together, solving math problems, taking long walks, making art and clicking selfies. I left teary eyed and I’m definitely going back, probably next year.
The attempt was to teach them a new thing or two. Instead, I came back being taught - About life, its challenges and to find happiness no matter what.
- Visited in Feb-March 2015​