Our project provides care for an average of 300 children from the age of 4 until they become independent.
Many of the children are homeless or come from very poor living circumstances. Each child has a tragic background. Our charity partner in Sikkim, HDFS, has become well known in the Sikkim area and as a result, parents, relatives or foster-parents frequently request a child’s admission. It is not uncommon that further siblings are also accepted.
The youngest children live in the Lepcha Cottage infant home, which is located in Gangtok. The age range there is from four to seven years. Under the direction of Miss Keepu Lepcha and Mrs. Chunzom Palmo Lepcha (Miss Keepu's niece), they are introduced and learn to live socially together in the community. Other employees help to take care of the children.
Our main campus is situated in Chongey, a village on the outskirts of Gangtok. Located here are the school and two separate, individual hostels for boys and girls. At the age of eight, the children from Lepcha Cottage are moved to these two hostels respectively. Occasionally, there are exceptions depending on a child’s progress, in which case the child may remain in the care of Miss Keepu at the Cottage for an extended period.
The children residing at the Cottage take part in the daily school routine at the campus and are transported by our school bus. They return to the Cottage after lunch for afternoon rest and the older children, after completing their homework, have time to play. As from the second grade, there are afternoon classes.
Since the capacity of Lepcha Cottage has become increasingly too small, construction of a new infants home is under way on the campus site. After necessary renovations to Lepcha Cottage, it will then be converted into a student’s residence.
The girls’ hostel borders onto the administration and kitchen buildings, which are situated next to the school. A beautiful flower garden has been planted in the foreground of the hostel, and behind there is a laundry drying area. At the rear side of the hostel is a grassy area with a playground and pergola for recreation.
The girls sleep in dormitories according to their school class. A carer supervises the smaller children throughout the night.
The boys’hostel lies approximately a five minutes’ walk away from the school. Adjoining the boys’ hostel there is a large sports ground for football and basketball. A second playground for the younger boys is being planned
Similarly to the girls, the boys also sleep in dormitories, but without supervision, according to their class. Younger boys, who still require maternal care, either stay longer at Lepcha Cottage or are cared for in the girls’ hostel.
In the same area, there are an extended vegetable garden and greenhouse, which help to supplement the supply of fruit and vegetables.
Our school comprises of a kindergarten (attendance for 2 years) and a primary and secondary school, which ranges from 1st – 10th grade. Talented pupils, who wish to continue to the 11th and 12th grade, return to their districts of origin to attend and complete these final two classes. Every three months, they revisit our campus in order to collect funds for their care and education and to keep in contact with us. It is always a happy and welcome gathering.
We are proud of the fact that many of our graduates pass their final examination and can continue on to further studies. Others leave school after the 10th class and begin an apprenticeship. We do continue to advise and support these young people.
The school complex has been expanded in two stages. In front of the main building there is a large, paved sports ground and next to it trees shade the grassy areas and playground for smaller children.
Our "Padma Odzer Choeling School" in Chongey is a private school under the supervision of the Ministery of Education in Delhi. School and life education are keystones, which will enable our children an independent and fulfilled life as adults.
Both our homes and school are equipped with an efficient drinking water system. The children are therefore well protected from diseases transmitted by contamination.
Extensions to the school were completed in two stages so the children and teachers now enjoy friendly classrooms, scientific laboratories and additional sanitary facilities.
Lepcha Cottage is no longer suitable to house the youngest children due to its size, age, and deterioration, which causes considerable cold during winter and dampness during the monsoon season. An alternative, new home has been planned and construction started in spring 2019. It will accommodate 50 children. Fortunately, land bordering on our campus in Chongey was found and the purchase had been completed some years ago. Obviously, the situation of the new home, being part of the campus, will facilitate the daily activities of both children and staff.
The estimated construction costs lie between CHF 350,000 to CHF 400,000. The new building is to be financed by donations. The annual operating costs are not included.
An architect company from Gangtok/Sikkim has been commissioned with the planning. On-site, support will be provided by our partner, the HDFS (HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION of SIKKIM). From Switzerland, the project will be supervised by our new board member Sabine Merz who is an architect by profession.
Brief description of the project
The new three-storey infant home is to be situated on a beautiful slope. All the day rooms and bedrooms face south or south- east and are accessed via a double staircase at the rear.
Dormitories for 10-12 children, together with bathroom and toilet facilities, are located on the top floor. An extra bed for a supervisor, who is responsible for the care and safety of the children during the night, is provided in each dormitory.
The ground floor is designed as a living area comprising of a large common room for playing and learning, a dining space with adjoining kitchen and a sunny shaded terrace.
Some extra space is to be found in the basement, together with storage rooms and a laundry.
Adjacent to the building are terraced outdoor areas with a playground suitable for small children.
The construction will be completed by spring 2021.
Extended study and career guidance: Our aim is to provide our graduates with increased support in the form of professional study and career guidance and, finally, in helping them to find a job.
Helen Kämpf is the owner of the travel agency Terralaya based in Angenstein/AG. She lived in Sikkim for a long time and knows the country and its people very well. For many years she was a board member of our partner organisation HDFS in Gangtok.
For individual and group tours to Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan as well as individual tours throughout India she is at your disposal.
Tel. +41 79 937 33 20