The ill-lit classrooms had no glass in the windows and no plaster on the walls. Unconnected to any source, electricity wires hung like jungle vines from concrete ceilings. The children, crowded behind simple wooden tables, wore neatly pressed uniforms and expressions warm enough to melt a mountain frost.
The sports field lies on the edge of a high ridge above Barranumber, overlooking the Alpha Nursery School. The fields and jungle drop down into the river valley a kilometer below us. In the distance we can see Sikkim and Nepal. The common language of all the tribes (Lepcha, Limboo, Rai, Tamang, Tenzing, Bhutia and more) who live in the Himalaya is Nepali. The fiercely fought borders drawn on maps by diplomats, kings, and politicians mean nothing to the people of this region.
Our friend volunteered with the Mondo Challenge Foundation, a UK charity set up to help communities around the world . In 2010 she taught at the Magno Vale Academy for six months and finished just before we visited Darjeeling. When the charity’s founder heard we were going to visit the area he press-ganged us into […]