The Trust currently facilitates the sponsorship of over sixty individual children to attend fee-paying schools. These are children whose parents often cannot afford to buy them pens and paper, so although school fees are relatively cheap, gaining a good education at a private school would be completely out of reach without sponsorship.
The parents of the children we sponsor are often porters or housemaids, who left school themselves with very little education. Through long-term sponsorship, the children will escape a future of this backbreaking work, and instead have the chance of a fulfilling career and the ability to lift themselves and the rest of their families out of poverty.
We maintain good relationships with a number of municipal schools in Darjeeling, and take recommendations from teachers to identify those children who would most benefit from a chance at a private education. We also work closely with a number of fee-paying schools to which we send sponsored children, to ensure they have enough support, and any individual tuition necessary to make the transition and be successful. Wherever possible, we place sponsored children in English-medium schools, as this provides the best preparation for a professional career.
It is crucial that sponsored children have the support of their families, and we ensure that parents and guardians fully understand the long-term commitment required before sponsorship starts.
Sponsors receive annual reports from the school and regular reports and photos of their children from the Trust. The fees of £240 a year are donated in their entirety to the school, and cover all costs, including school fees, shoes, a school bag, a plastic raincoat and wellingtons, and school uniform. Also, once a year, each child receives a small locally-bough gift such as a book.
The coming 12 months will see our oldest sponsored child approach the end of their studies, and the Trust will be involved as much as is needed in helping children make decisions about what to do next. As a Trust we are committed to supporting the children into any further training they may need to allow them to earn a secure living in the future.