Kalimpong, March 25: The Lepcha Night School at Mayel Kyong here now has a building of its own, thanks to a couple of old Darjeeling boys.
The two-storeyed structure was formally inaugurated today by Owen G. Glenn, the chairman of the Glenn Family Foundation, New Zealand, at a traditional ceremony attended by the colourfully attired Lepcha residents of Mayel Kyong. Glenn, a New Zealander, was accompanied by his friend from school days, Jimmy Kier, who is also the director of the foundation. While Glenn had been a student at St Michael’s School in Darjeeling, Kier, who now resides in Hong Kong, had studied at Goethals Memorial School in Kurseong.
Asked why they chose to fund a school-building here, Glenn said, among other things, he and Kier share a great deal of affinity with the Darjeeling hills. In fact, the foundation is funding a number of projects here, including two more school buildings at Madangri and Lingsey in the Kalimpong subdivision.
“Lepcha language classes are held in many night schools here, but most of them do not have permanent buildings,” said Dojee T. Lepcha, the president of Rong Ong Prongzom, or Lepcha Youth Organisation. “Here (in Mayel Kyong), for instance, instead of the two-storeyed building that you see now, there used to be a thatched house,” he added.
The new building will have classrooms on the ground floor and a small library and an office on the top floor. While the foundation paid for the cost of the construction material, local residents and members of various Lepcha organisations had volunteered with free labour.
There are 40 Lepcha night schools in the subdivision, all run by Pum Sezom, the apex body of the Lepchas. “Besides the Lepcha language, we also teach English. Moreover, deserving students are admitted to mainstream schools at our expense,” said Azuk Tamsangmoo, the coordinator of Pum Sezom.