One of the key projects currently run under the umbrella of the Avalokitesvara Trust is FOUNTAIN OF LEARNING
Fountain of Learning a.k.a FOL, is an initiative to nurture and educate children in isolated villages of Ladakh. For the year 2012, FOL is setting up libraries in Ladakh, a remote ice desert region of the western Himalaya.
Since its inception last year, the project has expanded swiftly and naturally, in response to the widespread need, and positive reception of our earlier work. From our beginnings in one or two monastery schools, with the aim of enhancing educational resources and experiences for the children of Ladakh, we have reached out to a much larger number of schools of all kinds across the region, and begun to contemplate broader engagement.
Accordingly, the name of the current initiative has evolved into ‘Fountain of Learning’, riding on a tide of enthusiasm for our aims and methods, among teachers, children and communities wherever we have been. We traveled far and wide in 2012, from the windswept vastness-es of Changtang in the east, where our merest attention to local children was touchingly appreciated, to the lusher valleys of lower Ladakh, such as Tingmosgang, where we have brought new takes on education to the girl students of a local nunnery. A short promotional film inspired by our experiences there is now available for viewing on vimeo.
So far, from our base in Leh, we have set up 30 libraries in schools and learning centers, stocking them with a range of materials, mostly childrens’ books, in all the languages taught here – Hindi, Urdu, English and Ladakhi/Tibetan. These are the first of many more to come. In addition to reading materials, we are keen to expose the children to other forms of mental and spiritual development, especially the creation and appreciation of music and art, and hoping to invite contributors in these fields to share their craft and creative joy with the children of the mountains.
More time spent in local schools has also deepened our insight into local needs. In particular, using the varied resources of educators and enthusiasts across India to develop and enhance teacher training in Ladakh is now a firm ambition. Even if we are not able to benefit every school and village directly, the evolution of a varied programme of skills and enthusiasm diffusion for local teachers may bring all kinds of positive outcomes into their lives.
The response so far has been delightfully encouraging, with individuals and contributors of many kinds coming forward to support us…
Since April 2012, in the expanded project area, we have accomplished the following-
-Sourcing and collection of children’s books
-Re-designing and refurbishing reading spaces in existing schools
-Conducting learning modules, art and drama workshops
-Providing children with games, toys, sports equipment, art & stationery supplies
-Support for Ladakhi teachers with educational resources, teaching aids and training programs
FOL aspires to build in an organic way, an integrated network of like-minded individuals that can extend their support through care, love, time, effort, their skills or monetary means