Rancho`s school back to life

Leh: A year after it was hit by flash floods, Druk Padma School, popular as Rancho`s school after Aamir Khan`s character in 3 Idiots, has come back to life.

The flash floods and mudslides had devastated a wide swath around Leh and caused huge loss to the school, 15 km from Leh and located in Shey, the ancient capital of Ladakh.

But after support from different parts of the country and the world, the school is back in action and now is home to about 270 children, 67 of whom are from the flood-affected areas.

"This school is meant to educate the deprived children of this region. We also provide hostel facilities for students. Besides, the school organises free medical camps for the people of Ladakh," said Prasad Eledath, the school Principal.

"It is our endeavour to provide world class education to the kids. The students here study Bothi (the local language), English, and Hindi as well as science, creative arts, and sports," he said.

Besides, the students also learn skills, including team work, presentation skills through formal and co-curricular activities, he said, adding that by next year he would like to upgrade the school to Class X.

"Inspired by the vision of His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, spiritual leader of Ladakh, the school aims to provide modern education for Ladakhi children -- an education grounded in their own culture and which could prepare them to lead happy and productive lives," Prasad said.

Hostel facilities allow children from Ladakh`s interior areas to attend the school and a programme of sponsorship makes sure the poorest are not excluded. It is managed by the Druk Pema Karpo Educational Society and funded by international aid.

Prasad said the students were particularly upset after the visitor`s diary in which Aamir Khan had written about the school was washed away during the flash floods.

"What a wonderful school. The kids seem very happy, and such a great location. Keep up the good work. Regards, Aamir." wrote the actor on September 15, 2008.

Prasad, who had done Masters` of Education from University of Sussex in UK, had turned down lucrative job offers to do something for the people of Ladakh.

"It is not a sacrifice. It`s more about this being a challenging task. I could have easily worked in Mumbai or Delhi and earned good money but the work wouldn`t have been that much challenging there...And of course who wouldn`t want to work in a beautiful place like Leh," he said.

Carrie Lee, President of `Live to Love`, a US based NGO, said it had become important for the international community to extend a helping hand to the people of Ladakh especially in the aftermath of the devastating flash floods.

"This region is located in a sensitive part of the world and borders China and Pakistan. The conditions are difficult and the region was devastated due to flash floods last year...

We could not remain mute spectators to their miseries," Lee said.

Lee said the Indian Army had been more than helpful in their rehabilitation work.

She said the NGO seeks to set up medical clinics in the interior areas of Jammu and Kashmir and provide employment to the youth of the state.

"There`s so much talent in the state but it is not being utilised properly. We intend to do that and hope the state government would extends its cooperation to us," Lee said, adding their love for India and the beauty of the state had forced them to work for the people of Ladakh.


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