Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Biographies of Gandhi Ashram Boarders

Professor Roy received the following biographies of Gandhi Ashram boarders: students who have graduated from the Gandhi Ashram but continue to live and learn at the school while attending good high schools in the area. They are a determined and inspiring bunch and their bios make great reading. We will be meeting and teaching all of them, so get reading!

1. DEEPA DARJEE DOB: 8 Oct 1992
I am Deepa Darjee. I was born in a peaceful small village on 4th Mile, not very far from Gandhi Ashram. I am from a poor family. I was given an education through Gandhi Ashram School which was founded by our late Fr. Mc Guire. I am 15 years old and presently studying in Class 9 in Dr. Graham’s Homes. I have taken commerce and humanities. My parents are illiterate. I am the only daughter in my family. My father works as a driver, and so do my two older brothers. My mother is a simple housewife who also looks after our little garden. I am the only child in the family who is getting an education. My brothers dropped out of school when they were in class 3.
My interest: to read storybooks, and novels.
My strength: my family. Although poor, they support me
My weakness: mathematics
My aim in life: to become a nurse.

2. NIKITA PRADHAN DOB: 10 Aug 1991
I was born in a family of seven consisting of my parents, three sisters and myself. My mother takes care of a small farm and my father is a laborer who is unemployed most of the time. Three of my sisters are in school but it is very difficult of my parents to support them. I was very lucky to get an opportunity to be at the Gandhi Ashram School. And t is all because of late Fr. McGuire who brought me to this school. Although he has passed away, he’s still in my heart. I am in class 10 at dr. Graham’s Homes. I love playing the violin. It is my favorite instrument. My main hobbies are reading story books and collecting stickers. From a young age, I dreamed of being a doctor and a nurse to help the sick who cannot afford medical care. However, I have to improve a lot in science since I am weak in subjects like Chemistry and Physics.

3. CELINA TAMANG DOB 5 July 1990
I am in Celina and first cried on this earth on July 5. Kalimpong is my home town. The name of the village where I live is Poshyor Busty. I speak three different languages—English, Hindi, and Nepali. Nepali is my mother tongue—a language spoken by a majority of the people in the hills. I can also speak a little bit of Bengali. Gandhi Ashram School, founded by Fr. Mc Guire, was a school built for poor children who could not afford to get a proper education. Since my family was very poor, they admitted me and my brother to the Gandhi Ashram School when we were only five years of age.
I play the violin and enjoy the experience of playing with others. I am thankful to Fr. McGuire. Through him I have achieved a lot—a chance to study and play music. My father is a small farmer who grows maize and chilies, and my mother assists him in the fields. But we do not own the land but only work for a rich farmer who owns nearly 10 acres of land. I have a big family—six brothers and sisters. I am now in Rockvale Academy school in Kalimpong, in standard 12th, studying humanities—geography, sociology, English, and Nepali. I am a helpful and kind person, but I am shy by nature and cannot easily speak to boys or strangers. I love playing badminton. My hobbies include collecting pictures of famous people. In my spare time, I listen to music—classical, pop, and Hindi music, and chatting with my friends. For further studies, I am thinking of taking sociology and science in order to become a nurse. Gandhi Ashram School has given me a new life; otherwise, my life would have been dark and full of despair.

Everyone has their own unique identity and so do i. I am Bipana studying in one of the listed ICSE schools in Kalimpong named Saptashri Gyanpeeth. Since I was a child I have been jolly and jovial. I am a bit overweight and short. But I love playing pranks on my friends. I get my strength from my old granny who is no more with us. My granny will always be in my heart and I treasure her memory. I hate no one, despise no one. My weakest point is my fear: I am scared of being alone or getting on the stage to speak in front of an audience. I feel that I don’t have enough self-confidence.
I have a small family of 4 members, including my parents. I am the eldest daughter and I have a smaller sister who studies in class 7 in Gandhi Ashram school. My father is a daily laborer and my mother works at home. We are a peaceful family. I am one of the boarders at the Gandhi Ashram School. I am interested in studying History, Economics, Political Science and Sociology. I feel I can do much better in Economics if I receive some additional help in the subject. I am thinking of doing a B.A. in social work after I pass out of school, focusing on environmental education. I wish to see myself as a successful woman after about 5 years. My role models are Sunita Williams (the astronaut), Sania Mirza (the tennis player), Mother Teresa, and Indira Gandhi. India is also very lucky to have a woman president, Pratibha Patil. There’s nothing we cannot achieve if we try. There’s nothing impossible since the word impossible itself says “I am possible.” After I get a job, I would look after my family and help Gandhi Ashram School in whatever way possible. I will leave no stone unturned to make the school successful in the future.

My name is Deuaki Biswakarma. My name means a goddess. I acome from a poor farming family in 5th mile. There are five members in my family. My father ia farmer of maize and vegetables and my mother is a housewife. My elder brother lives near Mumbai working as an office assistant. My elder sister just joined economics honors at Viswa Bharati in Santiniketan, a university near Calcutta. I am the youngest in the family and go to Saptarshi Gyanpeeth in Kalimpong.
At present I am in class 10, and my favorite subjects are English and Biology. My favorite hobby is reading books like science fiction and romances, and I love to chat with my friends. My aim in life is to a flight attendant. I will try my level best to achieve this goal, because this is a profession that allows a person to travel and meet new people in foreign lands. I respect my parents, elders, teachers, and friends. I am not a very good student—just below average, but I am trying my best to do well in my ICSE board exams. I am very serious about my future because if I do well I can help my own family, my village, and Gandhi Ashram School.

I am Kingjam Sherpa and I was born in 1992 in a small village called Tanek. I was given a good education at Gandhi Ashram, and when I finished class 8 I was sent to St. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong. There are 5 members in my family—my father, mother, one sister and a brother, and myself. My father used to work in the fields but now he is disabled and cannot work anymore. My mother is the sole breadwinner. She is a hard working woman who spends nearly 10 hours toiling in the fields every day. During the monsoon rains, she stays at home and occasionally goes out to do some weeding. My sister also helps my mother in the fields and does all of the household chores. My brother studies in dr. Graham’s Homes in class 10. he is also helped by Gandhi Ashram School.
I wish to be an airline attendant. But more importantly, I wish to be a good and responsible citizen. I would like to help other poor children get an education in a school like Gandhi Ashram.

My name is Sita and I was born on December 25, 1991 in Nussey Bustee above Gandhi ashram. But after my father died in 2004, my family has shifted to a place called east Main Road. There are 5 members in my family including myself. My mother looks after my brothers who stay at home. After the sudden death of my father, we were left without a home and any money, so my mother now works in the fields to earn something.
I have taken up humanities in school—History, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, English, Nepali, and Environmental Education. Among all the subjects I like English and Sociology the most. I wish I could get some help in English to enable me to improve my writing. My hobbies include playing and reading novels. I feel that the more I read the better I will be in writing and speaking in English. But I cannot afford to buy books, so I read whatever I can from the library at Gandhi Ashram which is rather small. I would like to pursue a degree in English in order to be a high school teacher. I am also thinking of doing a B.A in Social Work in order to be a community worker with a NGO in Kalimpong. Although I am not very talkative, I do not hesitate to ask a question if needed. My greatest strength is belief in God—a higher power-- and in Gandhi Ashram School. Whatever I am today is all because of the school. In the future, I would like to set up a school like Gandhi Ashram that would provide free education and music for poor children. I play the violin, and love to meet people from outside who come to Gandhi ashram school. I have traveled a little outside Kalimpong to play in the orchestra.

I am Kalpana and I am studying in class 9 in Saptarshi Gyanpeeth. I have the honor of studying in such a well-known school in Kalimpong. I am from a simple family fully dependent of the wages earned by my father who works as a street barber and a small-time farmer who owns a tiny plot of land near 6th mile. He does not make enough from his wages to support the family, so I am glad that I got a chance to receive such good education at Gandhi Ashram School. Although poor we are a happy and contended family, and I love my parents very much. My family means everything to me and also the benefactors of Gandhi Ashram as well as fr. Paul who is our current director. I have heartful gratitude towards their work in supporting a school that offers education and a home for those who cannot afford even food. Fr. Mc Guire is my idol and I remember him every day of my life—his smile, his kindness, and his concern for others.
I am very serious about my life and what I want to achieve in the future. However I fear about my future because my skills in English are limited. I have a great deal of interest in studying English and continuing my training in music. I would love to be a journalist who plays music and writes about music. I often lose hope because I feel that I do not have va solid background to fulfill my ambition. Although I have taken classes in poetry and am greatly influenced by it, I need help in understanding it and writing about it. I sometimes write poetry, and am looking forward for more help and new ideas about poetry because I want to excel in it. I love Indian and Nepali poets as well as British and American poets like Emily Dickinson. I also like maths, but I need a lot of assistance in the subject. Although English is my favorite subject, I find all subjects in the humanities—history, sociology, and economics very interesting. I enjoy playing the violin because it helps me forget my sorrows. I would also like to be a music teacher but I need a lot of special training in music to be help achieve this goal.

9. KAILASH RAI DOB 1994 24 Oct
My name is Kailash Rai and I am 13 years old. I live in Balapan Bustee, Upper Tashiding, Kalimpong. From my village you can see the Kanchenjunga range. I am studying in Gandhi Ashram School in class 7. In my family there are 5 members and I am the youngest son of my parents. My grandmother lives with my parents and one brother and sister. My father works as a barber and my mother works at home. My favorite hobby is playing different kinds of musical instruments—violin, viola, keyboard. I am not interested in sports like football, cricket, etc, that are very popular with the kids. My best subject is English but I hate maths because in spite of all my efforts to do well I am still weak in maths. I practice maths often and do sums over and over again, but cannot do well in my exams. Despite this, I put a lot of effort in doing well in other subjects. My aim is to become a good music conductor when I grow up. I am also ready to work hard to fulfill my parent’s dreams because very parent dreams that their children will one day grow up to a successful individual and look after them in their old age. I am thinking of studying music after I finish school, but I am not sure how to aooly to schools that offer music—especially the violin. After studying music, I want to return to Gandhi Ashram School and share my talents with others by teaching them and playing for them.

10. PASANG BHUTIA DOB 26 Oct 1993
My name is Pasang Bhutia and people think I am very mischievous. I come from a simple family. My parents are farmers who cultivate paddy and vegetables. My family owns a small piece of land in a small village called Pourbong Bustee where we grow vegetables for our own use. I have two sisters and a brother. My sisters and I go to Gandhi Ashram School. We were all brought to the school by Fr. Mc Guire. In 2006, I was admitted to St. Augustine’s School in class 8. It was a dream come true since I had never imagined that I would go to such a good school. St. Augustine has very good teachers and I can play sports like football and basketball.
In Octover 2006, I went for a trip to Germany with 14 other students. It was a really wonderful time for me. We visited a lot of wonderful places, and got a chance to play in big halls. I really thank Fr. Mc Guire for taking me in. I firmly believe that without him and without the Gandhi Ashram I would have been working as hired farmer without any future prospects. I am very happy at the Gandhi Ashram. I love when Roy Sir comes visiting—we chat, play, take walks, and he always has funny stories to tell. My ambition is to be a good person. I would like to study computers or education. I want to keep my family happy and also support the poor and Gandhi Ashram School.

I am Sunita: when I was about 5 I was brought to the Gandhi Ashram School which was founded by Fr. McGuire in 1993. I studied at the school till class 7 and then moved to SHP in class 8. My father works as carpenter. I am the oldest daughter in the family that consists of my parents and two brothers aged 12 and 15. my two brothers go to a public, government-run school near 8th mile. My favorite hobbies are playing the violin, playing badminton, and dancing. My best subjects are science and history, but I am weak in maths. I am trying my level best to do better in maths but I think I need some additional help in the form of tutoring. I count myself lucky that I learned to play the violin. How many children from my background can go to a good school, let alone learn the violin. My strength is my family and the other students at Gandhi Ashram. I would like to take science—biology—for my further studies, and be a teacher, a scientist, or a community worker. I the future I would like to support Gandhi Ashram School in whatever way possible.

My name is Dominic and I come from a small village called Poshyor Bustee situated near a bamboo forest. It is quite far from Kalimpong and takes about one and a half hour’s walk through the mountains to reach my village from Gandhi Ashram School. In my family there are ten members—four brothers and three sisters. I am the seventh child. We have a small plot of land, about 4 decimals, where we grow vegetables and raise pigs. My father is a small framer who spends all day working in the fields. We also have a cow, six goats, and about 11 hens. My elder brother looks after the cow and the goats. He also cuts grass from the forest and brings it home for the animals. My parents did not have any money to send all of us to school, and so some of them are illiterate. But they are very intelligent and love to tell stories. My mother is a vegetable seller. She collects vegetables from the village and sells them in the town. She works very hard to look after our needs. She is also a very religious and strict lady. Both my parents are not educated. They could not get an education because of poverty. My grandfather was a stone breaker and a farmer. Although they are not educated, they are kind hearted and caring. My sister Celina and I are the luckiest children in the village because we were admitted to Gandhi Ashram School. Fr. McGuire came to our village when Celina was only 5 and took her to the school. After completing class 8 in Gandhi Ashram, I joined St. Augustine’s School in 2005. That year Fr. McGuire passed away and we were all overcome by sorrow. It was as if we had lost a parent. Now fr. Paul is helping me. I am in class 9. I know that in today’s world we have to study and be educated. Otherwise we will become like a mat outside the room. People will clean their feet on the mat and walk on it. I want to educated not just to support my family but also to help my community. Already we have many people from the community who are working to improve the condition of poor farmers.
Nepali is my mother tongue. Nepali people are a very honest and sincere. I am also a tribal boy. The name Tamang belongs to a tribal group. Tamangs are usually very talented, but are shy by nature. We can do a lot better if we are given a chance, like Prashant Tamang who is a star in Indian Idol.
My hobbies are to read story books and books on science, astronomy, anything . I also love to play the violin and play basketball during my free time. I love to read mythological stories—Indian and Greek mythologies, stories with moral values and religious books. I am a bit weak in Englsih since it is not my mother tongue, but I am trying to improve my English by reading more books. I like to play the violin because it makes me happy, and when I am sad it makes me forget my troubles. I am fond of Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, and Vanesae Mae. I also like computers and would love to learn more about computer application, programming, and graphic design. However, I haven’t done very well in computers at school: we don’t have a computer in school for me to practice programming. All six of them that are lying in the computer room at Gandhi Ashram do not work.
Of all the science subjects, I love Biology very much. My aim is to be a doctor and help the poor. I want to make the world a better place by stopping killing of animals, felling trees, and protecting animals from poachers and disease. We live in a beautiful world and it is our responsibility to take care of it.

13. ANITA DHAMALA DOB April 29, 1992
I am Anita. I am eighteen years old and studying in class 10 at Dr. Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong. Like the others, I am a boarder at the Gandhi Ashram School which is the greatest support for me. The boarders have a true home in the school. We can go to Fr. Paul for help anytime of the day and in times of trouble. I love music very much. In fact, I cannot imagine life without my music.
I just have a mother in my family since my father died when I was just a toddler. My mother is a very hard working woman. She was the one who led me to the right path, taught me to value life and education, and has given me happiness beyond all expectations. I have taken up science for my ISCE Board exams, and am particularly interested in biology. My aim in life is to become a successful woman and look after my mother. I will always help Gandhi Ashram because I is the greatest strength of my life, more than my family. I am told that I lack courage and self-confidence, qualities that are necessary for success in life. I would like to be more self-confident and learn about asserting myself. I also need some extra help in chemistry and physics.

14. BIRMIT LEPCHA DOB 12 Feb, 1993
I am Birmit Lepcha (Simickmo). I come from a simple lepcha family. lepchas are considered to be the original inhabitants of the hills around Kalimpong but now not many children learn or speak the language. I am a girl from a very simple family. my father is a small farmer and my mother keeps herself busy doing the housework and tending to the goats and pigs. There are eight members in my family—3 brothers and two sisters. I was about four when my aunt brought me to Kalimpong. Unable to take care of me, she admitted me to the Gandhi Ashram School. I remained in the school for eight years under the care of Fr. Mc Guire. I also learned to play the violin which made me happy and forget my worries. One years back I went to Saptarshi. I am currently in class p.
My favourite subject is Science, but I am weak in mathematics and physics. After I complete my ISCE Boards, I would like to go to the university to study science. My aim in life is to be either a nurse or a teacher of biology in school.

15. MILAN LEPCHA DOB 8 November 1990
I am Milan, and I was born in a poor family near Poshyor Bustee. I was six when Fr. Mc Guire brought me to the Gandhi Ashram School. My parents are both farmers and my brother who is two years younger to me is illiterate. He stopped going to school after class 2. both my parents work hard in the fields in order to support the family. They take care of the plants, water them, do weeding, fetch wood for fire, and carry water from the spring. I am really thankful that I got the opportunity to attend Gandhi Ashram. I have taken Science in class 10. I decided to do science because my science teacher at Gandhi Ashram in class 8 inspired me. She taught me new ways to understand and appreciate science.
After taking my board examinations, I am interested in joining merchant navy. I would also like to go to college before that and study biology. I love heavy metal and alternate metal and hard rock. I am weak in maths, and people say that I am not serious about life and like to take things easy. It is true that I love to joke and play pranks on my friends, but I am definite plans for my future.

16. JENNIFER KHAWAS DOB 11 Oct, 1991
I am Jennifer and I go to st. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong (class 9). I am fun loving person, kind hearted, and sometimes irritating. I love to make others laught. I come from a large family of eight. My father is a mason, and my other brother is training to be a car mechanic (because he dropped out of school last year). My mother takes acre of each and everyone’s needs. My favorite subject is chemistry. Right now I am taking science and want to continue with it. But others tell me that science is very hard and that I have to be very good at it in order to study it in college. I believe that nothing is easy unless and until we try it and put in our best. I love to play basketball and I like to listen to and sing sentimental songs. I love the violin. I am going for a trip to Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland in Oct 2007 to play violin in 4 cities. The chance to play violin and to travel all over the world—how many poor children from our world can be as lucky as I am?

17. JOHN LEPCHA DOB 22 May 1991
I am John from Lower Chibbo Bustee located in 5th Mile, Kalimpong. My parents are poor, and therefore could not give me a good education in the local schools. So they admitted me to Gandhi Ashram School where only underprivileged children study. After finishing class 8 at Gandhi Ashram I joined Dr. Graham’s Homes School which is one of the best known schools in Kalimpong. I am now in class 10 getting ready to take my ICSE Board exams in march 2008. after finishing school I would like to go to college.
As I am the only child in my family going to school, my parents expect something from me in the future. They want me to study hard and aspire to be somebody. We are four brothers in the family, and I am the only one among the four who has remained in school. Another—the youngest—is in a government school nearby. The other brothers dropped out of school and work as casual laborers. But they tell me to study hard and achieve something in life. I am very fond of commerce and my ambition is t go to college and then get an MBA. All I can say is that I am capable of it. I am quite good instudies, but need some extra help in mathematics and English.

18. KISHAN SANKI DOB May 10, 1991
I am Kishen. My parents are farmers, and we are together seven in the family. I am the youngest member of the family. I am very grateful to Gandhi Ashram School for giving me a chance to study and learn music. I learned my first alphabet here at Gandhi Ashram. At present, I am studying at Dr. Graham’s Homes in class 10. I have taken up commerce. Besides commerce, I also like economics. But I need to work more on improving my mathematics. I aim to go to college to do an B Com and then study for a M Com. I like playing football, reading music, and playing the violin. I am also very interested in music and computers. Playing Vivaldi gives me a lot of pleasure, and I also love Bach and Mozart. I can speak four languages—Nepali, English, Hindi, and a little bit of Bengali, the language of the state of West Bengal where Kalimpong is situated. My favorite subject in Commerce is Accounting. I was also made perfect of my class this summer. I wish I could receive some help studying business mathematics. I know that I have a big responsibility to achive something in life so that I can support my poor parents. Gandhi Ashram has given me full support—I am a boarder and I get along very well with the other boarders. It has become my second home. I miss it when I am away. If I become a successful person, I will do my best to help the school.

19. JOKHIM LEPCHA DOB 5 July, 1990
My name is Jokhim and I was born in Poshyor Bustee in Kalimpong. There are five members in my family. My mother grows vegetables in a small plot of land that she owns. She also has cattle—one cow, two pigs, and four goats. My father is a cook at Gandhi Ashram School, and this is the place I call home.
I was admitted to this school when I was six, and since then I have been living here. I learned to play the violin when I was six, which has been one of the greatest achievements in life. I love playing in the school orchestra where there are about 40 students playing first violin, second violin, cello and viola. I enjoy playing Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart, and hill songs. I love to share my musical skills with others, and I do so by teaching some of the smaller children from my village. I have also been trained to play trios, which I enjoy a great deal. I will be traveling with Ajoy and Jennifer to Europe in mid Oct to play at concerts. Although I am excited, I worry that I will miss too many classes during the three weeks abroad.
I study at Dr. Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong. I am in class 12 and will appear for my ISCE Board Exams in March 2008. I have a great interest in subjects such as economics, mathematics, and environmental education. I want to pursue higher education in commerce and then go for an MBA. At times I have doubts as to whether I will achieve my dreams. My family cannot afford the money required to finance higher education or pursue an MBA. But I still have hope, someone will be there to help me as God himself has said that ask and you will be given, seek and you will find.
The other reason that I have to go for further studies is that I will be the first one passing my class 12 from my entire village. Most students have stopped studying after class 9 or 10. Most do not full understand the value of a good education. I have seen people learning to drive at 13 to be a driver. I have seen my own parents encouraging their children to work in the fields rather than study. Most of my villagers believe in the old way of life and it’s often very difficult to explain to them that the world is changing and that education has a very important place in this world. Those who want to continue working in the fields should also get some kind of education so that they can take better care of their crops and their lands.

I live in Tashiding Bustee located near 5th mile in Kalimpong. I am from a poor family, and there are eight members in my family. My father is a carpenter and my mother a housewife. My father loves to make small furniture, like stools and benches, and also wooden toys. I often paint these toys and give them to my friends in the village. Two of my sisters are married and my one brother and sister stay at home and help my parents. I and my elder brother got a chance to study in Gandhi Ashram School. Presently I am at Dr. Graham’s Homes in class 9, and my brother is in college in Darjeeling. Both my brother and I are trying hard to make a life for ourselves so that we can help our family. My main interests include practicing maths, reading comics and adventure stories, and playing the violin. I also want to learn to play the keyboard. My weakness is business maths. My strength is the desire to move forward and keep trying no matter how hard the tasks are. I wish to study in order to be a manager at a bank.

21. SACHIN TAMANG DOB 22nd Jan 1992
I am Sachin and people usually joke that I remind them of Sachin Tendulkar, the famous Indian batsman. I was born in Poshyour near Kalimpong and was lucky enough to be admitted to Gandhi Ashram School. It has been quite a long time since I came here—meanwhile lots of things have changed. Fr. Mc Guire passed away in August 2005, on India’s independence day. When we arrived at the school we were all given a violin each and given lessons everyday. At first I used to run away from school since I was not very interested in playing the violin. The first few months were not easy because all we could do was make noises on the violin. Now how realize how important music is to my life. I practise regularly and wish to learn the piano and the organ.
I am in class 10, and have two younger sisters. Both of my parents are illiterate but they value education. I often have a tough time because I have to continue my studies and also help my sisters. I am the only son and being the oldest, I bear a lot of responsibility, looking after my sisters and managing everything. I have taken commerce but I am not sure what I want to do after passing my class 12 board exams. My ambition is to become an army officer. The army offers total security for the family. At one point I was thinking of studying music after school but I have to earn enough to be able to support my family. I was also thinking of doing honors in economics or commerce, but since I don’t have much financial support I am not sure what I’ll do when I leave school. All of my friends have sponsors but I don’t have one—and this makes me a bit depressed. But Gandhi Ashram school continues to support me and encourage me to do my best. This is the best gift I have ever received. I love indoor games such as volleyball and have won several prizes.

22. SUBARNA PRADHAN DOB March 10, 1992
I am Subarna born in a family of poor farmers. I have three sisters and my old uncle lives at our home. He often tells me stories about my family and about Kalimpong 50 years back. I am in class 10 and my aim in life is to be a successful career woman. The one and only person who has helped me and set me on my path of dreams is late fr. McGuire. I think of him everyday—when I am sitting alone and staring at the stars, or watching the arin wash down the hills. Also my parents are a precious gift to me. When they are happy, I feel relaxed and happy. Whenthey feel lonely and sad I feel bad. I am always there to console them and to give them hope. My mother is a guiding source of life—like a lighthouse in the dark ocean. She gives light to others even though she leads a life of great hardship. She has always taught me to aim high and to move forward in life. My father says; “You have all the answers inside you. The more you trust yourself the easier your life will be. Look inside and care for others.’
I have three sisters. We always fight over small things but cannot live without each other. We have always been reminded that your dreams will continue to call out to you either softly in whispers or loudly until you acknowledge them and express them in your everyday life. After completing class 8, I was admitted to Saptarshi Gyanpeeth School where I am taking commerce and business maths in addition to subjects like social sciences, English, and Nepali. I wish to take up commerce in college. My belief is that people are happiest and most successful when their work is aligned with what is meaningful to them and what they are passionate about.

23. INDU SARKI DOB AUG 5, 1991
I am Indu, a name that means the moon. At present I am in class 10 in Saptashree Gyanpeeth, one of the well known private schools in Kalimpong. My strength is my family without whom I would be nothing. I have a big family consisting of eight members. My father is a small farmer who tends his little field near our cottage on the slopes of a hill. You can often see the Kanchenjunga from my home. I am also grateful to Gandhi Ashram School; without it, I would be nothing. My weakness is my short temper, although I am a trustworthy friend. I love chatting and joking with my friends, and watching TV whenever father allows us to, and most of all listening to music—pop, Hindi songs, and classical instrumental music.
I love Economics followed by English literature. After class 10, I am planning to opt for commerce. Though I am weak in math, I believe that I can excel in it if I receive some additional help in solving math sums. I love playing the violin, and my dream is to see Gandhi Ashram orchestra as a world famous orchestra.

24. LUCY LEPCHA DOB OCT 10, 1990
I am Lucy and presently in class 11 at Dr. Graham’s Homes School, a school established more than 100 years back during the British colonial rule. I love reading storybooks and my favorite authors are Meg Cabot and Erich Segal. I have opted for science and I intend to study business in college and become a good accountant. My best subjects are maths and English. I had a hard and difficult life, and at times I was filled with total despair but now I am better and back at school hoping to do my best to get a good standing in class 12. I respect my parents a lot and I believe that without them I wouldn’t be what I am today. I have my father, mother, uncle, grandmother, two brothers and a sister living in the same hut. My father works in the farm and my mother looks after the family and the cattle. I love my elder brother very much. He is a taxi driver and his name is Robin. He loves to tell me stories about his travels. My biggest strength is God, my parents, and my sponsors at Gandhi Ashram. Without their support, I would not have the ability to stand here or even write this biography. I love reading books, watching TV, listening to music and chatting with my friends. I also love munching of junk food, which Fr. Paul does not approve of at all.

25. AJAY DOB April 10, 1991
I am Ajay and my family comes from Chibo Bustee, not far from Gandhi Ashram. I am an orphan and live with my grandparents. I am presently in Dr. Graham’s Homes in Class 9. I am weak in mathematics and physics but no matter how complicated they are, I enjoy these subjects. I have a keen interest in environmental education. I like designing things—everything from houses, jewelry, furniture. I often draw new designs and would love to learn graphics. I would like to get some counseling on ways to pursue a caeer in design, which I am told is very much in demand in India. But design is a big field and I’ll have to wait and see which kind of design I can study after completing high school.
Years ago, my father , mother, and sister died in an accident and I came to live with my grandparents. They own a small field in which they grow vegetables and keep cattle. If you walk up the road from Gandhi Ashram and take the first path up the hill, you’ll reach their house in less than 20 minutes. I was sven when I came to Gandhi Ashram. This school helped me a lot to build my self-confidence and my knowledge. I am a boarder in the school. We are like a happy family here, although we occasionally have problems. I work very hard in the evenings after returning from school to help the people who work at the school. During weekends, I go to my grandparent’s house and help my grandfather in the field. I return to Gandhi Ashram on Sunday evening. I play the cello and people tell me that I am good it, although I would love to get more intensive training in the cello. I will be traveling to Europe later in Oct to play cello with some of my other friends from the school.

I am Sabitri studying at Dr. Graham’s Homes in class 10. I am 17 years old. My family lives in Bagrakote in Jalpaiguri in North Bengal, not far from the Bangladesh border. I came to kalimpong at the age of six and joined Gandhi Ashram School. I have five members in my family—father, mother, and two sisters. My father and mother work in the tea gardens as tea pickers. My two sisters study in a Nepali-medium school in Bagrakote. I consider myself lucky to be staying at the Gandhi Ashram hostel. I studied at the school till class 8 and then joined Dr. Graham’s Homes. This was a great opportunity for me—to be admitted to one of the best schools in Kalimpong where I receive the best education. I thank Fr. McGuire for everything he did for me and for helping me at a time when I needed the most help. He was like God who helped poor people like us to make something out of our miserable lives. My hobbies are reading books, dancing, watching movies, and of course, playing the violin. I am devoted to the violin and every time I play it I get lost in another world. I have taken arts in class 10—history, geography, Economics, and English. My favorite subjects are economics, geography, and home science. I want to join a course in hotel management and hospitality after I pass out of high school. I often wonder what I where I would have been without Fr. Mc Guire—probably picking tea in some garden.

27. PRAKASH RAI DOB 13 December 1989
I am Prakash from upper Tanek Bustee. My parents make their living by working in a farm. They are poor and uneducated and cannot afford to send me to regular schools. I was very lucky to be part of the Gandhi Ashram School where I have lived since 1995 since I was six. In 2005 I passed out of class 8 and was admitted to Dr. Graham’s Homes, and I am in class 10 getting ready to take my ICSE Board exams in March 2008.
At home we are seven members, including my parents. The eldest sister is married and has three children. I have two older brothers who stay at home working in the fields with my parents. Whatever they earn by selling vegetables is pent on food and clothes and there is very little left over from their earnings to buy books or shoes. I am very keen on going for further studies after I pass out of school. My favorite subject is mathematics, although I do not excel in it. I think I can do much better if I receive some kind of tutoring. I am thinking of studying mathematics after school. I am also passionately fond of music—the violin and the guitar.
Since I am the only person in my family to complete the 10th Board, my parents expect me to become a successful professional. My dream is to be a math teacher in higher secondary or in college. I would also like to pursue music and learn new instruments.

I am from a farmer’s family and was born in a place called Tanek in Kalimpong. Tanek is well known in India for its many varieties of orchids and gladioli flowers. The flowers grown in Tanek are sent to other parts of India and also to Europe. My family owns a piece of land where they cultivate these flowers as a cash crop, but they hardly earn enough since the flower dealers from the cities take all the profits. My younger sister and I study in Gandhi Ashram, and the remaining two sisters and parents work in the fields to earn a living for the rest of us. We are the only Sherpa family and often discriminated against by other non-Sherpa, Gorkha population. I feel it is my responsibility as the only son to take care of my family when I grow up and to ensure that they have enough to lead a happy and contented life. At times I feel like we are an injured bird caught in a nest of snakes.
I am now studying in class 10 at Dr. Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong. My favorite subjects are Physics and Biology, but I have some problems in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Apart from academics I play the violin and interested in learning to play the drums well. I like games like football, cricket, and basketball. I am told that I am good at football but it is hard to make a career in the game since it is so competitive. I love acting in plays as well. My mind is filled with different possibilities and dreams of a career, and it is hard to focus on any one. Merchant navy attracts me, so do fields like engineering and medical science, biomedical sciences. But one has to be very good in studies to be a doctor or an engineer. Another problem is: even if I get in, who will pay for my expenses?
If I become a successful professional, I will return to my community and work for its upliftment. I would like to see Gandhi Ashram School become the best school in Kalimpong—a school that offers free and quality education to the poor. Gandhi Ashram gave me a perfect platform to make a difference and say: “See what a poor person can do if given a chance.”

I am Sashi and my name also means “the moon.” Living in 7th Mile in Kalimpong, I am from a family of six. My father is a farmer and my mother assists him in the fields. I have two sisters, one is studying in class 7 and the other is in college. My only brother studies in class 5. I go to Saptashri Gyanpeeth (class 9). Fr. McGuire brought me to Gandhi Ashram. Since his death in 2005, I have found a lot of support in fr. Paul who now serves as its director. Dr. Roy, who is a good friend of the school, also visits us often and we spend a lot of time talking about ourselves, our dreams and ambitions and interests. I am usually very shy, but do not hesitate in talking to Dr. Roy.
I want to go for science for my class 12 Boards, but I am weak in mathematics and physics. I love music, and my other great interest is in dance. I often wonder if I can be a professional Indian classical dancer! I love to sing as well. I am generally a very contended person and take one day at a time.

I am Anupa and come from a fairly large family. My father is the sole wage earner. My brothers and sisters go to two different government-run schools in Kalimpong. I go to Dr. Graham’s Homes 9class 10) and have taken science. However, I am quite weak in chemistry and mathematics and may opt for humanities if I go to college. I am good in geography and nepali and want to be a school teacher. I am particularly interested in music and education of small children, and would like to receive training in the Montessori method after I get my B.A. in college.

I am Deepa and I was born in a peaceful small place called 4th mile. The village has a mountain stream and filled with bamboo and sal forests. I am from a poor family. presently I am in dr. Graham’s Homes in class 9 Commerce. I have two brothers and I am the only daughter in the family. my parents do not have formal education. My father, as well as my two brothers, are taxi drivers. I am the only one in the family to continue my studies up to class 9. my interests are reading books and playing the violin. My real strength are my parents, who although poor, love and nurture me. My weakness: mathematics. My ambition in life is to become a nurse.

I am James studying in Rockvale Academy in class 9. I am sixteen years old and the youngest in the family which consists of two brothers, my parents, and myself. . I am from Poshyor Bustee in the eastern Himalayas of India. Along with my two brothers I am part of the Gandhi Ashram family. I am a bit weak in Economics and English Literature and would like to receive some kind of help in order to improve my language and writing skills. My ambition in life is to be a schoolteacher, and I hope to follow the model path set up by Fr. Mc Guire.

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