Newsletter - November, 2010 - Part 2


MGVS has worked for many years with the people of Saklana Patti, with the women and the men, as well as teenage girls and boys, to raise awareness regarding Gender issues and HIV/AIDS. And as MGVS prepared a phase-out of our activities from the valley in 2009, both the people of the valley and the MGVS team were concerned that awareness activities should be able to continue in spite of MGVS. Therefore, MGVS assisted the community in setting up set up a Gender- HIV/AIDS Forum on September 8th, 2009, as a joint effort of the two High Schools and one Inter College of the valley. A government women’s organization, Mahila Samakhya, which has taken an interest in promoting Gender awareness and trainings in the area, was also invited to join the Forum as a participating member.  Mahila Samakhya provided Gender Sensitization training in the schools, this year, as MGVS prepared to phase-out of the area, in the place of the MGVS Gender program, and Mahila Samakhya has plans to continue doing so in the future. They have also agreed to fund the costs of prizes etc. for awareness events in upcoming years. The Forum has plans in place to hold awareness events each year. The Forum organized Gender & HIV/AIDS awareness events in 2009, and MGVS guided the Forum through the process, encouraging confidence.
Jaanki Rana is awarded second prize at the Gender Debate, Nov/09


On November 25, 2009 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women), the Gender/HIV AIDS Forum organized a Gender Debate at Satyon Inter-College, in Satyon. A total of 423 children attended the event: eleven students presented speeches on Gender Issues. First place went to Ankur Thakur, 10th Grade student of Satyon Inter-College. He argued that there is an unjust difference between boys and girls, that a girl cannot go to “check-out” a possible groom for herself. Boys go, however, to “check out” a possible bride, and if they do not like what they see, the father of the girl walks with his head lowered in his own village. He pointed out that former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was a girl, that Bacchinderi Pal, who has climbed Mount Everest, is also a girl. Then he sang a song for the audience: “I swear by the river, I swear by the fun, and the joy we feel, that the binding of women, like the weaving of the carpets and the shawls, the binding will stop… Women, change, you stand up and change and the times will surely change.” Jaanki Rana, 10th Grade student of Marora high school, spoke about the disappointment in the voices of parents when they announce they have had a baby girl. The debate was a positive activity and the newly-formed Gender HIV/AIDS Forum of the area was really encouraged by its success. ABOVE: Satyon Inter College Grade 10 student, Ankur Thakur, addresses judges and fellow students of the Saklana Valley on the differences in their community between boys and girls, Nov/09

Sayton Inter College Grade 10 Student, Ankur Thakur, addresses judges and fellow students of the Saklana Valley on the differences in their community between boys and girls


On December 1, 2009 (World  AIDS Day), an HIV/AIDS Painting & Essay Contest was held at Marora High School, also organized by the newly established Gender/HIV-AIDS Forum of Saklana Valley. All three high schools of the valley participated. Children took part by making posters and writing essays during the event, showing how HIV/AIDS is spread and how it is not spread. First, second and third prizes were awarded: Rajat Negi (9th Class) won first prize for the poster competition and Ankur Thakur (9th class) won first prize for the essay competition. The other contestants were awarded participatory prizes. Prizes were handed out by Chief Guests, Mr. Dinesh Rawat of Rani Chori University, and Mr. Harshdev Unyal, Area Panchayat Head. The Principal of Marora High School, Mr. J. P. Gaud, was especially impressed with this programme, because he had never witnessed an activity of this sort in the school, where after training has been received, a public competition takes place, and the audience is also engaged in discovering who has understood the most on the subject, as opposed to the usual formal testing/examination method of assessing knowledge.
Poster prepared by Satyon Inter College Grade 10 student, Rajat Negi, Dec/09


This past year marks the ninth year that MGVS Kaplani School has been providing an education past the Primary School level to the children of villages in the mountainous areas surrounding Kaplani Village, on the outskirts of Mussoorie. Today, a total of 30 students (17 boys and 13 girls) have acquired matriculation certificates (Grade 10), including nine more students who passed their final 10th Class Board examinations this year in March 2010. All nine students have gone on to further studies (Grade Eleven) at Inter-Colleges in Mussoorie, showing a shift in the value that the larger Kaplani community is now placing on education. One of the nine Kaplani School graduates for 2010, Lokendra Thapa, made his school proud this year, when he scored the highest marks in the Mathematics paper of the final Board examination, for the whole of the Mussoorie area: 82% - Ist Division.
Lokendra Thapa lives in Village Bata Gaon, on the outskirts of Mussoorie
Fifty-nine students are currently attending Kaplani High School: thirty-two girls and twenty-seven boys. On April 6th, 2010, at the start of the new school year, Kaplani High School welcomed Miss. Neetu Singh as a Science Teacher. MGVS is hopeful educational standards will improve for Kaplani School students now that each of the five Grade levels in the school has one teacher each.

is Now Open!

On April 26th, 2010, the new Heidi Parker Memorial Building was opened formally. This marks the end of a construction project, very generously funded by Mr. Robin Parker (Woodstock School alumnus ’48), which was started five years ago. It has been a real treat for the students of Kaplani School to sit through classes during the monsoon rains this year, with dry books and dry feet! The new building has made all kinds of other changes possible for the students of Kaplani School as well – a Science lab, individual desks for each student, computers etc. The Kaplani School has received many blessings through the special joint efforts and continued support of many friends that have left the MGVS Team and Kaplani School Staff and students without words and truly grateful.
Mr. Robin Parker opens the Heidi Parker Memorial Building to the community on 26th April, 2010


Kaplaini School students share cultural activities with students from Ireland
From July 12th - July 18th, 2010, and from July 26th – July 29th, 2010, two groups of approximately 18 high school students and three teachers each, visited from Northern Ireland and spent time teaching Kaplani students some Science, English vocabulary and grammar, crafts etc. Saphara of Nothern Ireland arranged their visit. Both sets of students also participated in many cultural exchange activities including singing and dancing and Hindi speaking.  After four days of teaching at Kaplani School, each group of Irish students then trekked down to Donk Village to work with Donk Primary School for a day. The Irish students prepared their lessons for the classes they taught at each of the MGVS Schools, which really helped make the experience an especially intense opportunity for the Irish students themselves as well as the Kaplani High School and Donk Primary School students. Kaplani School staff also had an opportunity to discuss different teaching methods with the teachers from Ireland. A highlight of the two visits was a Science exchange, which took place in the new Science Lab, generously set up by Saphara themselves for the students of Kaplani School, in the recently completed Heidi Parker Memorial Building.
Neelam Rawat of Millage Masrana analyzes a soaked raisin as part of a Science exchange program with Irish High School students
The group leader was Dr. Christine Burnett, Director and Founder of Saphara. Saphara is a non-government charitable organization that has been working in partnership with MVS since 2008.
Director of Saphara, Dr. Christine Burnett, trekking up from MGVS to Donk Primary School, July/09


In the last week of November 2009, MGVS founder, Rev. Robert Alter, Mrs. Ellen Alter and MGVS Founding Member, Mrs. Saroj Kapadia, visited Kaplani School. Their visit was a moment grace for the students and the teachers.