Project Awake and Shine

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The Empowerment of Pascalina and her five daughters

Pascalina Lepcha was borm into a Nepali Hindu family of 8 children in the remote mountain village of  Samthar. She studied at the local village school till the 8th class and was a bright student. She was dismayed when her father told her that she could not go to school any longer as he could'nt afford to educate her.

Heartbroken, she took solace in the company of her school mate Chhanam Lepcha – a Catholic Christian.  At the age of 14 they decided to elope  (as per local custom), and earned the disapproval of her parents. Finally the village elders persuaded  Pascalina’s parents to bless their union. Pascalina became a catholic and was formally married and given a new name, Pascalina.

When Awake & Shine School started its first nursery class, Pascalina was interviewed for the job of a helper with nursery children. She worked whole heartedly as a child-helper but had a burning desire to be a teacher. She also wanted to provide a good education to her daughters – Elizabeth, Adiline, Enorga, Elisha and Eshika. Henry Unwin, the school’s first volunteer teacher discovered that Pascalina demonstrated remarkable skills and nurturance in handling children and could become a teacher with coaching in spoken English.

Ever willing to work hard and assume responsibility; Pascalina, in just 4 years trained herself and was  finally appointed Nursery teacher in 2011. She has worked wonders with her little wards, teaching little ones with love and affection, always coming up with innovative ideas and methods. Maureen Blake who retired as head of an infant school in the UK remarked “I am amazed at the practical imaginative and innovative ideas Pascalina comes up with to transform children from crying babies to happy children who love to come to school. Every time I go to her class I see her experimenting with a new idea” 

Pascalina, along with Angela Lepcha was selected by individual members of Rotary Club of Benalla to visit Australia in Jan- Feb 2014 and participate in a tailor-made program  of cultural exchange and exposure to latest teaching methods. Pascalina and Angela stayed with families, participated in social exchange and visited infant and primary schools. They were exposed to the latest methods of teaching English. Despite her limitations in spoken English, she did very well to win friends and admirers, and gained many new scholarships sponsored by members of the club.

Pascalina’s three daughters; Adiline, Enorja, and Elisha, after finishing their primary education at Awake & Shine School have been sponsored for education at boarding schools in Kalimpong. They are doing very well, securing meritoriously and are turning out to be emotionally secure and responsible girls. Their success is an indication of how our foundation level education at Awake & Shine, is empowering children as “change makers of the future”.

Pascalina has been empowered through her experience at the school and  teachers development opportunities. She has evolved into an outstanding nursery teacher with a six fold increase in salary in the last 8 years. In addition she is running the school knitting club.

Pascalina, has not only empowered herself, but has had a major role to play in empowering her daughters, with the help of her supportive husband Chhanam Lepcha, who is a farmer. 

This inspiring story tells us how rural India is changing, and how education and opportunity is empowering women and the girl child. 

Our Address: Project Awake and Shine
Samthar Farm House, Basti and Post Office Samthar, Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling, West Bengal, India - 734301
Mobile: +91-94340-47372,E-mail : awakeandshineschool@yahoo.com, gurudongma@outlook.com, gurudongma@gmail.com
For India wide Tours and Treks go to www.astonishingindiatours.com. Mob: +91-94340-62100,