Providing Education for Ladakhi Girls

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Children in a Ladakh school (photo: Anita Bajpay)

LADAKH, India– Anita Bajpay, executive producer at AT Films Productions, has a passion for helping girls from the remote region of Ladakh, known for its stunning landscapes and Buddhist culture. She recently visited Ladakh and talked to INDIA New England News via an email interview.

Ladakh lies in the eastern region of Jammu and Kashmir and has always been a much sought-after tourist destination.

“However, its true treasure lies in its people, who are gentle and loving and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure a better future for their children,” said Bajpay. “Thanks to the diligence of several organizations, there has been a thrust to provide quality education to the children even in the most remote districts of Ladakh.”

She said that combined with an increased awareness of the importance of educating and empowering girls, there has been a sharp rise in school attendance. According to the 2011 Census, female literacy rate in Jammu and Kashmir for the district of Leh rose from 12.09 percent in 1981, to 50.03 percent in 1991 and 64.52 percent in 2011.

Ladakh (Photo: Anita Bajpay)

“In my recent visit to Ladakh in June 2017, I visited some of the reputed private schools in Leh and the surrounding villages with the goal of bringing back credible accounts of what I learned,” said Bajpay. “There is a tremendous desire on the part of both the girls and their families for education and unfortunately, the lack of funds for basic school fees can sometimes be prohibitive.”

She said that Our Ladakhi Sisters, a Maine-based non-profit organization, is doing a great job in helping these girls.

“Due to the tireless work of Gary Sayers, founder and president of Our Ladakhi Sisters, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, several such young girls have been vetted,” said Bajpay. “It is personally gratifying to find organizations/individuals who are willing to make a difference in the lives of young girls by funding a year of their education for sometimes as little as a dollar a day. Can there be a better investment?”

Children in a Ladakh school (photo: Anita Bajpay)

Another group helping Ladakhi girls is Ladakhi Women’s Welfare Network, founded by Thinlas Choral.

“I had the opportunity to meet Thinlas a few times, in my recent visit to Ladakh, to better understand the needs of the women she is helping and to find out how I can contribute my time and resources,” Bajpay said. “In addtion to my meeting with Thinlas, I also took the opportunity to visit several schools scattered across Ladakh and saw firsthand how eager the community is to educate their children and how challenging it can be for them due to lack of funds.”

Bajpay is currently working on connecting different charitable organizations with such students (via the local schools) so that their education can be funded or sponsored, she said.

“Based in New Jersey for several years, I have worked with local non-profit organizations to empower women in the South Asian community,” Bajpay said.

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