Kurseong – 130,000 trees later

Kurseong, at the far north end of West Bengal, clings to the steep slopes where the Himalayas rise from the plains of the Ganga. In the rainy season, one falls to sleep here to the sounds of pouring water, as the white streams rush down their narrow gullies. Goethals Memorial High School, a boys boarding school, and the new Open School, for local students, are wedged into the side of these hills.

Loss of trees here spells landslides. A week after I climbed these slopes, five local people were killed in a landslide, following the heavy rain. What can a school do for its local ecosystem? The answer is obvious.

Brother James Joseph, in his years at Kurseong, together with students, has planted 130,000 trees on these slopes. There is now a forest, harbouring monkeys, rare birds and spectacular wildflowers, all around the school, weaving the handsome stone buildings into the local fabric – and saving the precious soil. Here the whole school teaches – if you would seek its achievement, look around you.

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