This is the 4th of 7 posts about our travels around India to meet students, children and institutions. By this point during six days in India we had travelled perhaps 5000 km by plane and jeep, and stayed in five hotels. Now we were back in Gangtok and due to spend two nights at the Bamboo Grove Retreat , giving us a chance to catch breath.

We had lunch with Loden in his flat. He and his wife Nimkit house a group of former pupils at Mayal Lyang Academy who are now going to state schools or college in Gangtok. Magi counted 14 tooth brushes in the bathroom – this in a place with two rooms and a kitchen! The children seem very well, well fed and happy. Everybody pulls together. The point is that these children have access to free state education, but their families who live in remote areas such as Passingdang are too poor to support their living costs away from home. Therefore without sponsorship they would not get an education. We understand that this will gradually change, because at least one state school in Gangtok is planning to open boarding facilities. But for now and into the future, the need for support remains.

Two students Kinsang and Laden walked us back to our hotel. Kinsang wants to go on to study law, and Laden to be a Lepcha teacher.

That evening we were able to meet Nedup and Nimphuti. We had a job to find them because it was dark, and MG Marg was crammed because of a Youth Festival running singing and dancing events on a stage at one end. Much noise! We showed them some old photos from when they were pupils at Sikkim Himalayan Academy. We have posted them above together with the pics we took that night – not great quality but a great story! Nedup is studying sociology, and will sit the civil service exam in due course, so his options may be to enter the civil service or become a social worker. He is planning to do an internship in Kolkata over Christmas, where he will stay with Rha Tschering (see post 7 to come). Nim is studying nursing in Bangalore and is in her 3rd year. However she want to do two further years so she can qualify as a state registered nurse, which will give her more opportunities. During the college holiday she has been staying with her family in Dentam, West Sikkim. This is 6 hours jeep ride away, so she had spent 12 hours in a jeep to come and see us. Magi last saw them both in 2012 when they were still at Dr Graham’s Homes.

It was wonderful to meet these young adults making their way in life, and such nice people……….

Next day 1 Nov was a day off! We visited the Handicraft and Handloom Centre, then did some shopping, including picking up a two-week SIM with unlimited data for INR 500 (£6). That night we ate in a first-floor restaurant in MG Marg – £10 for a lovely meal; tomorrow, another jeep ride to Namchi.

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