Leaflets from the field

Thought leadership, news, and updates from the Broadleaf team and the Darjeeling Hills

Latest News From Broadleaf:

  • 06/10/2020 0 Comments
    Meet the Interns: Aarti and Kelsey

    Broadleaf welcomes two college interns to our team this year, we asked Aarti and Kelsey to introduce themselves in their own words. Welcome Aarti Katara and Kelsey DeSchriver to the Broadleaf team and thanks for your contributions so far!


    From Kelsey:

    Hi, my name is Kelsey DeSchriver and I am interning with Broadleaf. I am going into my third year at Temple University where I study social work. I am also a graduate of Stroudsburg High school. I was born and raised in Stroudsburg, PA and am lucky to have had the experiences and opportunities that my high school offered. Their many volunteer programs and involvement in the community is what led me to choose my major of social work at Temple University. After moving to such a big city like Philadelphia my horizons have broadened. I’ve realized how much more was out there for me to experience and how many people truly need help in our world. This led me to researching volunteer opportunities where I could learn more about helping others and making an impact on communities in need. As I came across the Broadleaf website and read about this organization, I realized their mission supported everything I stand for. “We believe in improving communities through health and education and that access to quality education and healthcare are fundamental human rights.” Broadleaf builds communities from the ground up in the Eastern Himalayas. So far Broadleaf has implemented programs in more than 70 schools that have affected over 1,400 children. I feel honored to be a part of this organization and to be learning from such down to earth, kind, and selfless individuals. I originally reached out to the founders of Broadleaf, Denna and Mike Matergia, who actually graduated from Stroudsburg High School as well and now live in Denver, Colorado. Denna and Mike were so welcoming and encouraging when we first met and right off the bat showed me what leadership looks like. Throughout my internship with Broadleaf I have learned how they run such a powerful organization in another country almost entirely virtually. I have also learned how to communicate effectively, create PR content, interview individuals, and my latest project includes learning about the process of grant writing. The knowledge I have gained throughout this internship is priceless to me and I can’t wait to travel to India with Broadleaf and get to experience these communities first hand!


    From Aarti:

    For the past fifteen years, I’ve grown up in a small, quiet town in Northeastern Pennsylvania by the name of the Poconos. The Poconos is beautiful. I was often told it was the “honeymoon” capital of the country, as the sweeping views from Mt. Tammany, placid lakes such as Lake Wallenpaupack, and steep slopes at Camelback often attract swaths of tourists. This was all exciting to me as a kid - growing up in nature, seeing a black bear in our backyard every once in a while, etc. Yet, it was also a secluded bubble. Only in high school did I really begin to understand that the way of living in other parts of the world was far different than my life in the Poconos.
    In high school, I knew that I was interested in science and the medical field, but I didn’t quite know why, and I wanted (or maybe even needed) to prove to myself that it wasn’t because both of my parents were physicians. As I explored the numerous questions that helped me solidify my interest in the medical field, I thought it would be a good idea to reconnect with my roots. My parents immigrated to the United States from India after they got married, and they then pursued their medical professions in America in hopes of better opportunities. From both of them, I had heard numerous stories about how different life in India was, and how lucky I was to have access to abundant, safe, and hygienic medical services. It was hard to fully grasp what they meant until my senior year, when I traveled to Madagascar on a medical mission trip. In Madagascar, every patient was thrilled to see the doctors who had arrived. They traveled many miles - often by foot - to arrive at the medical site in time and have the chance of being, or having their children, treated. It hit me really hard at that moment - that the people of Madagascar had waited so long to have access to the services we were providing, whereas I took access to safe and hygienic healthcare services for granted. From then on, I knew then that I wanted to commit my life to working in the medical field, and to help people who didn’t have access to the same medical services that I do.
    Following this realization, I was introduced to Broadleaf. Broadleaf’s aim of helping individuals with a lack of access to basic healthcare and education aligned really well with what I was hoping to work on. Whereas in Madagascar, I was able to work on a medical team providing services, with Broadleaf, I knew that I would be able to work at the ground level - educating people on how they can take care of themselves and keep up their health. I reasoned that if I wanted to help people without access to medical services - this was the first step, in giving them the tools such that they can lead happier, healthier lives. I immediately reached out to co-founder, Michael Matergia, about contributing my time and energy to Broadleaf’s mission. Fortunately, Michael was just as excited about this idea as I was, and offered me to intern with Broadleaf once I returned home from school. Although COVID-19 certainly changed the direction of my involvement with Broadleaf this summer, my experience has helped me understand all of the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into helping the individuals in Darjeeling. Two of the most important things that I learned through this internship are that 1) it truly takes a village of individuals with genuine desires to help change the world and that 2) I could make a difference simply working from my home in the Poconos. From my virtual interactions with Broadleaf’s team members, I’ve learned the incredible amount of teamwork that goes into developing programs in order to help people with access to minimal medical resources. In addition to this, my work with Broadleaf has inspired me further to connect with my local community such that I can better understand healthcare insecurity and available resources. As this summer comes to a close, I can’t help but look forward to next summer, where I hopefully will be able to experience Broadleaf’s work firsthand. But until then, I am excited to contribute behind the scenes in every way I can to help continue and support Broadleaf’s growth.

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  • 20/08/2020 0 Comments
    Broadleaf Covid update - August 2020

    Broadleaf Hosts School Community Workshops to Support Reopening. As India and Darjeeling begin to reopen, our communities have considered how to or if to open school.

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  • 23/07/2020 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Broadleaf and DLR Prerna's Work on Mental Health during Covid-19 featured in the Darjeeling Chronicle

    Globally, the pandemic and economic shutdowns have brought on an emerging mental health epidemic due to increases in anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Broadleaf and our partner, DLR Prerna have quickly pivoted to make sure that we are addressing this within the communities that we work in. 


    Recently, the local press in Darjeeling wrote a piece about the success of this work. You can read more on the Darjeeling Chronicle: Addressing Mental Health Concerns in Schools in Darjeeling within the COVID19 Pandemic and Beyond

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  • 12/06/2020 0 Comments
    40 hour trek for a pencil in the ear

    Padeng is a rural agricultural community in the Darjeeling region of India, and one of Broadleaf's CHIP partner communities. Padeng is also home to Yenten, a nine year old boy.


    Recently, Nima, a School Health Activist (SHA) from the Padeng community, was performing her annual hearing screening. When Yenten strode up to have his ears checked, Nima quickly realized that Yenten had something stuck inside his left ear. He shared that his ear had been feeling itchy and he was using the sharp end of a pencil to scratch his ear.

    Nima walked Yenten home and talked with his parents about the fact that he most likely had a piece of pencil stuck in his ear in such a way that he would need to see a doctor. With the support of Yenten’s parents, Nima helped arrange for Yenten make the 40-hour trip to see an ENT specialist.The physician recognized that the pencil tip had caused a traumatic rupture of the ear drum; fortunately he was able to remove it before it caused any permanent damage.

    About a week later, Yenten approached Nima at school and asked if he could share his experience with his classmates. He wanted them to learn from his “pencil in the ear” issue! Nima was delighted to see his eagerness to share his learning and first hand experience with his peers and helped him create a poster to use at his school. Yenten proudly gathered several friends and together they designed a poster to help them teach the other students at Padeng Primary School the importance of keeping objects out of your ears.

    Nima and Yenten exemplify how a community-led intervention can help recognize acute medical issues, promote access to care, and empower children as health champions.

    As the days continue to pass by and malls swarm with crowds trying to find the perfect gift, please continue to remember that your donation to Broadleaf empowers children and communities in the Darjeeling region

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  • 12/05/2020 - Broadleaf Team 0 Comments
    Covid update - May 2020

    As the lockdown continues for our partner communities, our work has focused on spreading accurate messaging, reducing fear and stigma, and promoting healthy behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID.

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  • 13/04/2020 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Supporting Rural Communities in the Darjeeling Himalayas during the Covid-19 Crisis

    COVID-19 disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable- three ways that Broadleaf is supporting our communities.

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  • 19/09/2019 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Who is Darjeeling Prerna?

    Darjeeling PRERNA is our local operating partner in Darjeeling. They are an NGO founded in 1993 working on issues of rural development and equity in the Darjeeling District. They have been instrumental in helping Broadleaf establish, implement and run our programs.

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  • 19/09/2019 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Feeling the love in Denver

    Denver showed up for the 2nd Annual Broadleaf and Brews

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  • 29/07/2019 0 Comments
    Denver Teachers visit Darjeeling for Education Summit

    This past June, three Denver Public School teachers that make up Broadleaf's U.S. Education Team traveled to India to engage in a week long Education Summit with the Darjeeling based staff. 


    This trip has become an almost annual trek for the Denver based Education Team. 


    Team members from Broadleaf and our local impact partner, DLRP, spent the week building a shared philosophy around best practices in education. Participants read and discussed various educational pedagogies, engaged in team building activities, and made goals for the upcoming year of work in local schools. Usually separated by half of the globe and 12+ hour time difference, everyone was excited to make the most of the time spent face to face. Broadleaf and DLRP will continue to collaborate in  and prioritize advancements in education, and student achievement.  Thank you to all those who participated!

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  • 17/04/2019 0 Comments
    Biking from Darjeeling to Kathmandu: 2018 Eastern Himalayan Charity Bike Ride

    After an exciting and successful bike ride in October 2018, cyclist and Broadleaf supporter Rebecca describes her once in a lifetime experience. Read about her adventure through India and Nepal that she embarked on with co-founder Mike and fellow cyclists Dan and Colin. Broadleaf hosted this bike ride as a fundraiser to raise awareness of our work in Darjeeling. If you're interested in participating in future bike rides, contact us for more information!

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  • 26/11/2018 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Small Steps For Cleaner Communities

    Students in Padeng Primary School set up a local system for waste management - making a small step to improve the cleanliness of their school.

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  • 22/08/2018 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Broadleaf and Brews!

    Our 2nd annual Denver fundraising party was a huge success!

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  • 23/02/2018 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Broadleaf's First Women's Community Health Festival

    With support from Adventures for the Mind, Broadleaf hosted it's first Women's Community Health Festival

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  • 27/12/2017 0 Comments
    Anjila's Story - Improving Access to Healthcare

    In Padang, the nearest health clinic (for those that can afford it) is more than 2 hours each way by foot in Kolbong. Broadleaf improves access to healthcare by utilizing our school health activists in the communities that we work. 

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  • 04/12/2017 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    ​​Ayush's story - the effectiveness of deworming.

    Four year-old Ayush is a student at a Broadleaf school who was able to stay healthy and stay in the classroom this year thanks to a simple but powerful intervention: de-worming tablets.


    Nearly half of kids in Darjeeling have suffered from intestinal parasites, contributing to rates of malnutrition that hover around 25%. Years ago a bad dose of medication made Ayush sick. Since then, his mother Saira had been understandably scared to give her son the drugs he needed. But after building a trusting relationship with Broadleaf School Health Activist and community member Satyam, Saira was willing to try again. 


    Now Ayush is thriving with the help of regular de-worming and iron supplements.It takes less than ten dollars to de-worm a class of students in Darjeeling – and studies have shown that when children receive deworming tablets, school attendance improves by as much as 20 percent. That’s why New York Times columnist Nick Kristof praised the power of de-worming as a life-saving Christmas gift:


    Deworm a child. Or a village of children! One-quarter of people worldwide have worms in their bellies, impairing their nutrition and often leaving them anemic. Children can be dewormed for about 50 cents each, and this leads them to miss less school and earn more as adults. Kids in the American South were dewormed 100 years ago by the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission, leading to large gains in school enrollment and in literacy, and now we can easily and cheaply achieve the same gains worldwide.


    Fighting malnutrition is just one way your support for Broadleaf unlocks human potential. By helping kids to practice hygiene, teaching classes on topics like nutrition and mental health, and making direct referrals to medical care, together we can keep students in the classroom and empower them to build brighter futures for their families.


    In Broadleaf's holiday gift guide, you can contribute enough deworming medication to deworm all the students in our schools for an entire year. 


    You can read the full NY Times piece here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/opinion/sunday/... 

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  • 28/11/2017 - Broadleaf Health and Education 0 Comments
    Namrata's Story: Malnutrition in the Darjeeling Region

    Last year, Namrata’s mother Sweta was alarmed to hear from her daughter’s teachers at Laxmi Memorial School. Namrata had stopped participating in class or playing games during recess. Her energy was low and her mood subdued. Sweta was worried and uncertain where to turn for help. 


    Fortunately, Broadleaf School Health Activist Dhiraj had begun to monitor the growth of students in Namrata’s school. Dhiraj confirmed that Namrata’s height and weight had dropped well below the average for girls her age, and connected Namrata with health services including nutrition education and iron supplements.  


    Today, Namrata is able to run and play with her friends – and spend her school days focused on learning. Broadleaf’s unique school health model empowers community members to become school-based health educators who work tirelessly to improve the health of children like Namrata. By helping kids to practice hygiene, teaching classes on topics like nutrition and mental health, and making direct referrals to medical care, Broadleaf Health Activists enable children in under-resourced communities to stay in school and thrive.  


    Due to malnutrition, 25 percent of school children in the Darjeeling region are underweight for their age. We believe a preventable health condition like this should never be an obstacle to education. When you donate to Broadleaf, we will use your gift to help children like Namrata stay healthy and stay in school.

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  • 15/10/2017 - Aileen Giardina 0 Comments
    HEAD WOBBLES, JEEP RIDES, STRIKES, OH MY!

    Board Member, Aileen, recounts her adventures (and misadventures) in India and Nepal this past summer with Broadleaf co-founders Michael, Denna and fellow board member, Ashley.

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  • 25/09/2017 - Broadleaf 0 Comments
    Denver Supports Broadleaf

    Braving the unusual pouring rain, we introduced Broadleaf to a new group of supporters in Denver.

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  • 16/07/2017 0 Comments
    Broadleaf Education Team's June Visit

    Prior to the unrest in Darjeeling, Denna (co-founder), Aileen, and Ashley (Board Members) visited several of our community schools.

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  • 28/06/2017 - Michael Matergia 0 Comments
    What's going on in Darjeeling?

    Michael recounts his recent trip in Darjeeling as political unrest unfolded within the region.  

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