Decent Education for Darjeeling children

Darjeeling: Helen Jones has opened the gates of her garden for the people at Whitby, North Yorkshire, so that little children from this hill town can get a decent education.

The retired physics teacher of Whitby Community College was so impressed by “eager schoolchildren walking miles everyday, smartly dressed and well behaved at all times” that she came back from England to start Roseberry Nursery School, where education is imparted free of cost to those who cannot afford it.

“I opened my garden at Whitby to the public (for a nominal charge). I also give lectures on gardening for a fee. Not only that, after explaining our aim (about the school), many people came forward to help generously,” said Jones while briefing how she has managed to collect £4,000 for the school which was opened in Toongsung last week.

The idea of the school struck Jones when following her maiden visit to India in 2002 she returned to England “always wondering how she could give something back to the area, which had given her so much pleasure and left such a deep impression on her”.

Jones soon floated a trust christened School Aid India and following advice from the UK Charity Commission, decided to appoint a local agent in Darjeeling.

The six-member trust has so far raised funds largely through word of mouth, besides the individual efforts put in by the 70-year-old Jones.

A secondary school teacher of Toongsung, B.B. Pradhan, has helped Jones by allowing his house to be used as the school building. “The school now has 27 children and they will be looked after by two teachers,” said Pradhan.

Jones believes that the children can be taught in the school for the next five years after which the trust is mulling sponsoring uniforms and textbooks for the pass-outs for as long as possible.

However, at Roseberry — the school is named after a hill in Whitby — almost everything will be for free.

When word spread that the institution would be named after the hill, an archaeological society which shares the same name, contributed £100 for the project.

Residents here have hailed Jones’s endeavour. “For people like us, a promise of quality education for free gives so much relief,” said Dawa Sherpa, a parent.

Source: The Telegraph