What do you picture when you think of India?
Bustling and booming metropolises, crowded streets, expansive outsourcing centers - these might be some of the images that arise when someone mentions India. India is a vast country with many ethnic groups, regions, and climates. Broadleaf works in a small slither of northeast India wedged between Nepal (the the west), Sikkim (to the north), and Bhutan (to the east). Our program staff work out of Darjeeling with our partner communities spread out in the rural hills within the surrounding Darjeeling District.
It is easy to romanticize the region in which we work. Darjeeling is often described as the "Queen of the Hill Stations", a city built atop of the rolling emerald green foothills of the Eastern Himalayas with views of the imposing and majestic Kangchenjunga (the third tallest mountain in the world). The lush landscape and fresh mountain air combine to produce some of the world's most renowned teas.
Darjeeling is beautiful but what these descriptions miss is the reality that our friends and the children that we serve face on a daily basis. Notheast India poses many challenges. The vast rural region surrounding Darjeeling is mountainous in terrain, has poor infrastructure, and is struck regularly by monsoons, making travel and every day tasks logistically challenging. The communities we work with are poor, marginalized, and made up primarily of an ethnic minority population of day laborers.
Broadleaf Health and Education remains one of the few international nonprofits partnering with local communities within this region to tackle the challenges that they face.