The name of the current initiative, previously known as ‘Friends of Likir’ 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.
Abhigya loves Ladakh. “I love the solitude and simplicity of these mountains. When you see the people, the hard lives they lead and their smiles, it is overwhelming. They have told me that they want nothing more than an education for their children.”
Abhigya visited Ladakh in August to work with the Likir Monastery School for two weeks. The authorities expressed their need for more spoken and conversational English. And so, she designed short modules to enhance their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. They were also shown children’s movies and had conversations that led to reflection and investigation.
‘Friends of Likir’ is an earnest initiative that was born in Likir, a peaceful and enchanting village that lies within the mountainous folds of Ladakh. Therefore, the name is a metaphor for acts of loving kindness, creativity, connection and compassion.
Talking about her ‘Friends of Likir project’, she says, “With the Friends of Likir initiative, I work with children in schools which have very little infrastructure and facilities. I plan learning modules for young children which are coherent to their own lifestyle and surrounding. Understanding their essential needs through experience and then planning help in creating learning modules. I read from books which evoke imagination, reflection and inquiry-based of learning. Their language competencies are combined with other life-skills, conversation and expression through form of art, theater, discussions and debates.
Aside from the promised libraries, the project includes the procurement and collection of children’s books for libraries, the building of dedicated reading spaces in existing schools, conducting learning modules, art and drama workshops. It will also go beyond the curricular and provide medical camps for vaccinations and treatment for respiratory and skin infections as well as offer children games, toys, sports equipment, art and stationery.
As an educator with Mahatma Gandhi International School, Abhigya had taught students of class 1, 2 and 3. Here, she had custom designed modules/projects that integrated essential learning skills like reading, speaking, art, theatre, expression and critical thinking. With the experience she gained out of teaching at the school and with the passion for educating tiny tots who brave high altitudes and freezing terrain to reach school, she embarked on the Likir mission.
Avalokitesvara Trust works in the regions like Turtuk and Changthang, which is arguably the remotest region of our country. The joint venture hopes to see changes in the life of the youth of the region. The trust hopes to expand its operations in other remote and needy regions of the Ladakh Valley. Zanskar Valley is one such region where the trust wishes to start its operations soon.
Abhigya Shukla, founder of Avalokitesvara Trust, says, “We are grateful to QNET’s RYTHM Foundation for this support. The project hopes to see children in the rural schools of Ladakh enhancing their learning experience and imagination through the activities and opportunities provided by these libraries. We have already started to reach out to Changtang, an especially remote and deprived area of Ladakh, and hope to extend our work to similarly needy parts of Zanskar and Kargil district in coming years.”
The commencement of the Avalokiteśvara Trust’s ‘Book Drive’ for the children in Ladakh, India was the perfect way to celebrate International Book Giving Day which was on 14th of February! International Book Giving Day is a day dedicated to getting new, used and borrowed books in the hands of as many children as possible.
This ‘Book Drive’, held till May 2013, is being held mainly to raise awareness about the plight of the children in Ladakh who have very limited access to reading material.