At the Himalayan Writing Retreat, we are highly engaged with the local community. Having lived in these mountains for six years, we’ve seen that the people who move in here from outside adopt one of two models. Some are expats – they don’t integrate into the local community and choose to stay on a pedestal. Others are migrants – engaging and assimilating with the local community. We don’t want to be the “Urban outsider” in our rural community.
We like to get our hands dirty and hang out with the local folks. While we find joy in our work – in helping writers achieve success. We also find a lot of joy in supporting causes we care about. We support two causes through two organizations.
- The Chirag School – which brings fear-free, experiential education to the village
- Alaap – which works on Climate Change
The Chirag School
At Chirag School, they believe in creating a gentle-, fear-free environment where curiosity is encouraged, not subdued. This school is a unique experiment because it is modelled on the principles of J Krishnamurthy, but the students are local, rural kids taught by rural staff which has been trained in this way of teaching.
The children and their learning is guided by their sense of responsibility towards their surroundings, including environment, arts, tradition and culture. Through song and dance, the children are taught about the local traditions. Sports are also an important part of the curriculum.
The class size is extremely small and ensures the teacher to student ratio stays low – which translates to personal attention to every child. This results are much higher than average reading levels, and very good performance in school-leaving exams. The teaching methodology is informal and includes encouragement of extra-curricular activities in all forms.
The parents contribution is just Rs 150 per month and covers only 7% of the operational cost. For the balance, the school does external fund-raising. The Himalayan Writing Retreat ran a campaign and raised Rs. 6,07,000 Lakhs for the school. The details are at https://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/tmm-fundraiser-13849 (The two children named there are the kids of the founders of the Himalayan Writing Retreat. Both Children have studied at the Chirag school). We also raise money multiple times a year (we raised INR 43,000 in July, 2021) through our First Draft Club.
In addition, The Himalayan Writing Retreat supports the Chirag School by bringing in long-term funding for the school. The cost of providing education to a child at Chirag is Rs. 28000/- per child/ year. If you would also like to learn more about the school and support it, please visit the school website at https://thechiragschool.wordpress.com/ .
Alaap is an organization that works in the field of Climate Change. They do this by planting forests in villages and rural communities. The Himalayan Writing Retreat supports Alaap’s effort by working with them in various ways. In 2019 Alaap hosted the Climate Change fellows – volunteers who worked in Alaap projects in the Champawat area of Uttarakhand. HWR held an on-site blogging workshop to support this cause. HWR will continue to support Alaap in the future as well. You can learn more about Alaap at https://alaap.in/ .