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News from Maitreya School, a free school benefiting local impoverished children from Bodhgaya and neighbouring villages.
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Dear Friends

This year we renovated, furnished and staffed two Support Class Rooms for Hindi and English. We did a small yet needed upgrade of the equipment in our Computer Class Room. We doubled the number of seats on our school buses, which is HUGE. It’s a privilege to get children to school on time, and safely, and a great kindness to them in summer and monsoon months. We provided winter and summer uniforms for new students and students who have out grown them.
 
Our school clinic has gone from strength to strength. This year children received an eye test and those needing further diagnosis were taken to Gaya hospital to be assessed by optometrists and ophthalmologists. Reading glasses and further treatment for children who needed it was arranged and provided. A number of information sessions on health, hygiene and the short comings of alcohol were run for students and also their parents. Our resident nurse oversaw all 200 children receiving their needed vaccinations and a comprehensive check up and treatment at the dentist! Quite an achievement!
Last year Rinpoche was at Root Institute for over two months. During that time I benefitted from being able to discuss the School and Tara Children’s Project with Rinpoche. So much of what we are doing here at Maitreya and TCP is based upon Rinpoche’s direct advice and wishes. It has been a great joy to make these changes. Some of Rinpoche’s wishes included for the children to practice their English by writing out sutras. We have begun writing the Sutra of Golden Light in gold pen. Root Institute Director gave a talk in Hindi to the children and explained why the sutra is special, and then each week we have been reading a small section of the sutra. Other children, in class four, learned to recite the Heart Sutra by heart in Sanskrit. As a reward, and to further their learning, these students were taken for a school excursion to Vulture’s Peak and teachers had the opportunity to share dharma, history and geography lessons based on this trip. Rinpoche requested that Root Institute’s resident lama, Ladakhi Lama come to the school as much as possible and to teach on refuge and karma. The children have loved his dharma teachings which are full of stories, laughter and wisdom.
 
In December last year Rinpoche published Joyful Parents, Successful Children. I have arranged for large sections of the book to be translated. For both Maitreya School and Tara Children’s Project, the book is a treasure of advice and wisdom. It will set the direction of how we teach, raise and benefit our children for years to come.
 
Over the last year we have adjusted our timetable to be more cost efficient, and to also provide better support to students who need it. Many support classes are given to small groups of children each day. We know from evidence based research that small support classes are the best way to help children learn and progress. With the adjustment to our timetable we can offer these classes without needing to hire extra staff, meaning we are running in the most efficient way possible.
Looking ahead, with your continued support, the future looks bright for Maitreya School and our 200 students.
 
Our building is now at full capacity. We need to build 3 classrooms to take the school up to our aim of Class 7. We also need to build a small number of additional toilets to accommodate the growing school population. We would ideally renovate the school kitchen at the same time. With improvement, the kitchen has the possibility to provide a hot meal free to students once a week. At the moment we can provide only fruits, sprouts or other simple snacks. The classrooms would then need to be furnished with tables, chairs, a teachers desk, fans, curtains and learning materials. We estimate the construction of the classrooms and toilets will cost around $20 - $25,000 USD, while the kitchen renovation and furnishing of the classrooms would cost between $5 - $10,000 USD.
 
Once the classrooms are built, over two years our school population will grow from around 220 to 330. This means a thirty percent increase in per student costs, such as uniforms, school materials, food and so forth. Three new teachers will be needed, as well as general increases in costs like electricity and so on. While this sounds like a lot to achieve, with your help, by 2020 Maitreya School will be fully grown, and a living reality of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s bodhicitta vision.

Your donations helped pay for the summer and winter uniforms, as well as new uniforms for other children who had outgrown theirs. This photo shows their first day wearing their uniforms, looking bright, fresh and happy.
One of the most important messages we share with students is that we are all capable of benefiting others, of doing well, generating kindness and a peaceful happy future for our families and communities. We link academic achievement to altruism so study becomes a source of merit and virtue.
 
Both at Root Institute and Maitreya School we have seen many changes. It has been a completely rewarding and challenging period for which I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve one of Rinpoche’s incredible social projects.
 
As you may have heard, our long standing Director Venerable Trisha Labdron sadly passed away. Venerable Trisha was dearly loved by the children and a great supporter of both projects. Our new Director of Root Institute, Maitreya School and Tara Children’s Project is now Venerable Paldron, who we would like to extend a warm welcome to from all at MS.
 
We have also said a sad goodbye to Andy Melnic who had been managing the both the school and orphanage for many years. Andy has returned to Australia. Personally, and collectively from all of us, I’d like to thank Andy for all his efforts and hard work. Andy did so much to provide a solid, professional foundation to the administrative systems of Maitreya School. 

Each day at Maitreya School it is a pleasure to serve Rinpoche and benefit our students who are full of potential, hope and energy. Thank you so much for your immense kindness, and the difference it is making. Thank you for patience during this year of change, and your commitment and inspiration to keep helping us bring to life the benefits of education, dharma and 16 guidelines for all of our students.
 
With love and thanks,
Amy Rayner, and all our teachers, staff, volunteers and students
Copyright © 2016 Tara Children's Project, All rights reserved.


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