What Bodhi Tree Educational Foundation is?
The Foundation was born in 2008, with the purpose of universalizing access to education in marginal communities in rural Bodhgaya, located in the state of Bihar which is the second poorest in India.
Bodhgaya is the Buddhism world capital. It is known for being a pilgrimage center and for hosting a multitude of Buddhist temples. And, actually it has an halo of energy or mysticism. Because in there it is located the Bodhi Tree. The story tells that Siddhartha Gautama found enlightenment under this tree, transforming himself into Buddha.
But unfortunately this magic is lost when we get away from the city. In the surroundings, the communities live in a state of authentic rejection by the rest of society. Many times, it comes for ignorance of its existence. And this is the worst thing that can happen to a human being. Being invisible to the rest. They are people from the lower castes with extremely limited access to basic resources. They live, as they can, based their economy on a basic farming.
These communities need help. And, specifically, their children. We cannot let them grow without education, especially in values. Because if we forget that, future generations will live the same reality as their parents and grandparents. And that must change. BTEF was borned with the spirit and willing of changing the world from the consciousness of children.
Twelve years later, BTEF has grown into a group of nurseries, a school, a unit for children with disabilities, and a womens empowderment unit. But still, we aren’t able to cover everything we want. And we continue to grow every day. Hundreds of children apply to enter school every year.
Therefore, we want and need to continue growing. But we don’t want to do it alone. We want to do it together with you.
Where we are?
We are on the outskirts of Bodhgaya, and a few kilometers from Gaya, the capital of the area, the most developed city.
In Gaya is located the airport, so if you come as a volunteer, you will land there and we will pick you up.
BODHI TREE SCHOOL
Quality and Inclusive Education
Let's put ourselves in context: the public school exists, but it is not compulsory. Furthermore, it often bases teaching on punishment and it's a place where children of the lower castes are marginalized.
Bodhi Tree School breaks with those classic patterns by giving a comprehensive education in values. Not only they deliver a consistent education at the level of a private school with challenging exams, but also, we make each child aware of their worth, regardless of the social statuswhere they were born.
The ambience created is that good that the children walk every day to get the school on their own.
Our boys and girls develop their capacities, learning values such as gender equality and social integration.
Therefore, the day our students take positions of responsibility, they will lead the changes that society needs. Especially in terms of justice, solidarity and community responsibility.
Visibility and Social Integration
The reality of children with disabilities in these communities is tremendously harsh. They are invisible. But let us understand their families: they do not do it out of cruelty, it is simply ignorance. These children dont understand why they are different and their family live and work in the countryside. They cannot attend their needs, so they grow up alone, without friends, without motivation.
This is the reason why Dhirendra created this unit. Because actually there is no occupational center that cares about these cases. These children need a place to play in community, to motivate themselves, to challenge each other to boost their abilities. Furthermore, unlike the rest of the school, these children do have a route service at home. In tuk-tuk, it couldn't be any other way.
It's great to see the smile and happiness of these children that overflow every day. They have a common place to express themselves and play with other children. In addition, they also have their exams and it is amazing to see how they make progress.
And since this unit born something very nice is happening in these communities. Many parents thought they were isolated with this "curse" as they did not know anyone in the same situation. Thanks to BTEF, they meet families with the same fears, make friends and finally understand that it is not a curse to hide at all.
Whoever has an special person nearby knows that it is not a punishment; instead, it is a gift.
GARDEN OF SMILES
Autonomy and dignity of women
This is our unit created exclusively for women. In these villages, the reality they live in is very harsh. Why? It is very difficult to explain in a single paragraph, but we can sum it up in one idea: without training, their future is decided by the husband chosen by their parents. They are, inevitably, housewives. From another house.
Yes, it is hard to see that. But it is a reality born of illiteracy and ignorance, and we can change it. Therefore, we created this project; we want to give these women back the pride and freedom that they should have. From training, listening and support. The central axis of this project is the sewing classes but also, we make workshops from various topics such as: menstruation, equality, nutrition in pregnancy, etc. Concepts of which we should break its taboo and educate.
Individual development, creativity, self-confidence ... These are values that, added to the objective of making them feel capable of selling their own creations on the market, make them not feel subject to what is dictated by society. They can bring financial income home.
They can be, therefore, independent.