Darjeeling - „Queen of the hills and Kanch as the crown" Darjeeling is a district and also a city of the Indian federal state West Bengal. It is situated between Nepal and Bhutan. Darjeeling city is located at an altitude of 2185 m and called Queen of the hill stations English people from the Bengal lowlands went to Darjeeling to escape from the hot monsoon to enjoy the summer- resort. They were the first to cultivate tea on the steep hillsides. Darjeeling tea is now world-famous. Kanchenjunga, the world third highest mountain (8,598 m) towers above the landscape of Darjeeling. There is a viewpoint in Darjeeling city called Tiger Hill. It offers a great view of the Kanchenjunga. In case of good weather conditions it is even possible to see Nepals giants of the Himalayas like Mount Everest, Lhotse and Makalu far away. But there is monsoon during summertime. Strong rainfalls, clouds and fog often inhibit viewing the giants. Monsoon can interfere public life strongly (e.g. landslides) or even stop it for some time. Population and religion The Darjeeling district has about 128,000 inhabitants. Most of them are Nepalese people. Tibetans and Indians from the lowlands are the minority. The Nepalese people came to Darjeeling during colonial time, because they were hired by the British to build up the first tea plantations. The predominant language is Nepali. In Darjeeling city and its surroundings there are people with different religions (Hindu, Christ, Muslim, and Buddhist). One can find Buddhist monasteries as well as Hindu temples, Christian churches or a mosque. Way from the lowlands to the hill station If you like to visit our small school and the beautiful landscape of Darjeeling city, you will have to make a long but worthwhile journey. There are domestic flights from Delhi or Kolkata (Calcutta) to Bagdogra, which is situated in the Bengal lowlands. There you can take a jeep or the train to get to Darjeeling city. It takes about 8 hours for a distance of 80 km to go to Darjeeling by train. This train is called toy train. It is a narrow-gauge steam train connecting Darjeeling with the lowlands since 1882. Sometimes you can buy a cup of tea on the roadside while the train is climbing up the hill Tea and Tourism Many tourists visit Darjeeling and Sikkim (the neighboring federal state of India) during spring and autumn. They are Indians coming from the low lowlands or foreign tourists choosing Darjeeling as a starting point for a mountain trek. Porters and kitchen staff accompany tourists in case of organized treks. Tee production and tourism are the main economic sectors of Darjeeling. The trekking season, however, is short and the incomes low. Many people do not have enough money to earn a living. Our school is located in an area where many families depend on trekking tourism. We hope that some of their children will have a chance to get a good basic education in our school with our support. The unemployment rate is very high in Darjeeling. For this reason a good school education is of particular significance Turning of fascination for mountains into a project idea The mountain giants of the Himalayan attracted us - Guido Uhlenberg and Steffi Lücking - for the first time in 1990. Many voyages to Nepal and India (especially Ladakh, Darjeeling and Sikkim) followed. The fascination for the mountains stepped back from voyage to voyage. Meeting people came to the fore. Friendships and the wish to help at least some people to find a way out of poverty emerged. We are trying to make possible a good school education for some children by taking over school partnerships since 1992. This improves future life conditions for them and their families. In 2004 we met Rohit Andrew Pradhan from Darjeeling during a trekking tour. He was our guide. At that time he told us about his dream to found a small school in his hometown in order to make possible for them what he received thanks to financial support and luck. This is a good school education being the basis for his life. In the following years Andy has been a reliable partner for us during many voyages. A close friendship between his family and us has developed. We organized a school partnership for two children in 2006. Pupils of the Dellwigschule took over financial responsibility for them in 2007. They collected far more money than required for their support. From the remaining money evolved a school partnership between the Dellwigschule in Dortmund and the Aloobari school in Darjeeling. Further underprivileged pupils of the Aloobari school got support and new toilets were built. During our last Darjeeling visit in March 2008 (we were accompanied by our second chairperson Mrs. Dr. Almut Köhler) we thought about the dream of a small primary school to become reality perhaps. A school partnership between Dellwigschule an Aloobari School Rohit Pradhan (Andy) works as guide during trekking season. When Bruce (kitchen helper and partner) told him that he could hardly afford his childrens school visit, Andy asked for help. His request motivated Steffi Lücking (teacher at Dellwigschule in Dortmund) to ask pupils and teachers if they are interested in initiating a school partnership. They took over responsibility for this partnership since 2007. They collected money by organizing activities like info or sales events This made possible the school visit for Arjun and Jhumas. The pupils collected far more money than necessary for their school visit. In addition 22 children were supported as required. Classrooms and the lavatory were renovated. Two years later we noticed that both sides profit from this activities: Arjun, Jhuma and many other children in need have the possibility to get school education in Darjeeling. Pupils of the Dellwigschule (special school with main focus on study) make the experience that they (who often need help) also have the possibility to help other people in a great way. There is a lecture series before organizing an info event. There they find out a lot about the living conditions of children in India. Now the pupils are experts on Arjuns and Jhumas life in Darjeeling. Detailed information on this project and the lecture series can be found under www.dellwigschule.de/ausdenklassen/darjeeling/index.html back