17000 ft Foundation is Changing Ladakh With Its Stories In Bhoti

By: 17000ft Foundation

Published On: May 29, 2018

Amount raised: Rs 2,39,190

Number of donors: 27

Thanks to this NGO’s unique vision, children in Ladakh are being re-acquainted with their roots! 

Bhoti- the forgotten language 

There are 900 government schools in Ladakh, where English is taught as the main language. Though some children have become accustomed to it, there are others who prefer getting educated in Ladakh’s native language- Bhoti or Ladakhi as it is popularly called, which is taught as the third language in schools, the first being English and the second being either Hindi or Urdu. Due to the lack of instruction available in their native language, these children often fail major examinations. 

While textbooks in Bhoti are rare, storybooks are unheard of, making it difficult for students to stay in touch with their roots and culture and build an imagination as well as explore their creativity in their own language.

But the scenario changed drastically, thanks to the contributions of 17000 ft Foundation. Started by Sujata Sahu, the organization has been active since 2012 and works towards providing qualitative education to children studying in government schools. The NGO has been instrumental in setting up libraries in 250 schools and has built 140 playgrounds in some of these institutions. 17000 ft. foundation soon set foot on a mission to translate story books in Bhoti, to cater to school going kids. 

Lost in translation 

In 2015, they started by translating books from the libraries that they had set up to Bhoti. They went on to translate as many as 21,000 story books! The NGO didn’t just focus on translating, but went on to contextualize and distribute 15,000 books across 370 schools in the Leh district. 

When they faced a crunch in funding, they turned to get help from the crowd. Their crowdfunding campaign raised Rs. 2,25,000!

Reaching the height

The organization managed to surpass their goal amount with the help of 37 donors! 

“Our crowdfunding experience was great. Before crowdfunding, we used to raise funds with the help of our corporate sponsors and our trusted donors who have been helping us out since several years. 

I think crowdfunding is the way to go, especially for NGOs because through this medium, you have people from all walks of life donating to your cause. Due to the CSR policy, certain corporates have to donate money, even if they don’t wish to. But with crowdfunding, you know that people are donating because they genuinely want to help you and that’ a great feeling,” said Stanba Gyaltan, a full time worker at the NGO.

How the NGO met its goal amount 

Contacting recurring donors: The first step that Stanba and his fellow workers took was to reach out to their trusted donors. 

“We either called or emailed these donors and asked them to help us out. We thought that’ the most important step to take as these donors have been helping us out since years,” said Stanba. 

Using social media: The NGO shared the fundraiser on its Facebook and Instagram pages. “We got more response through Facebook as we have more number of followers there. But I’d still say that reaching out to our donors personally is what helped us the most,” said Stanba. 

What did the NGO do with the funds? 

The project of translating books is still underway, but will now face no roadblocks thanks to the fundraising.

“We should be able to complete the project in a couple of months.We are currently working towards translating the books. We have already started working towards 15 of the top story books from Pratham and Scholastic and currently our illustrators are working on translating these books. We will be giving them for printing and will distribute them in schools very soon,” added Stanba.

Things to come

Post this success, 17000 ft has real high ambitions for the future. “We plan to now set up digital libraries. Also, though Ladakh is our primary target area, we trying to move to other Northern areas like Arunachal. That’s our next target.”  

Check out their fundraiser here.

If you’d like to know more about 17000 ft and their work, click here.