I was born in the small village of Shri Timli in the rural Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India. Growing up there, the entire village was like a family, with people living, working and sharing life together. The lives of people in Timli, just as in so many villages across this region, has not changed much over the last 50 years. But increasingly they struggle with the fundamental needs of life through lack of education, skills and economic opportunities. Many have been forced to leave their villages. The State Government estimate that around 80% of people have migrated from this rural region to towns and cities in search of work and a better life. I am one of those economic migrants. But Timli has something special which has enriched my life ever since I was a boy and regularly brings me back home to where I truly belong...it's a school.
Shri Timli Vidyapeeth was a school originally founded in 1882 by my great grandfather and others with a vision of reviving ancient Indian Vedic teachings combined with a more modern education. This school was the only recognised Sanskrit school in the region and in 1951, English was incorporated as a second language to meet the growing needs of the students. It was popular, attended by over 100 students around 40 years ago and lauded for the high quality of education it provided. I still remember with pride my first day at that school. It’s a very vivid memory for me.
Over the years though, economic migration and the lack of investment from Government took its toll and by 2013 just 3 students remained. This is a sad tale familiar to many rural village schools across the Himalayas.
But I believe it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe the people of Uttarakhand and of the Himalayas have incredible resources available to them which often go unrecognised and unharnessed. Many people have lost the will and skill to manage their lives and land sustainably. The ancient Sanskrit teachings of our forefathers still has much of value to teach us in this modern world. My great grandfather’s vision is alive in my heart and is still just as relevant now as it was over 130 years ago.
That is why I set up the OMSOHAM Human Welfare Charitable Trust (known as the OMSOHAM Trust), to reinvigorate that school as the flame that can rekindle the life opportunities for the students and their families. Through education and skills training the Trust aims to shine a light to guide the way for our next generation towards a future of opportunity that doesn’t require them to leave their homelands, but to stay and bring them back to life.
There is reason to be hopeful, as the Trust now supports around 30 primary school children from over 20 villages and has trained hundreds of young people with modern ICT skills and thousands of students across Uttarakhand through outreach workshops. And we’re not stopping there.
I invite you to explore the work of the Trust and lend it your support and guidance. We can do this together, as we have learnt, for wise men, all the world is family.
With best wishes
Founder and President