SNEHA helps to operate a group of three schools, based in the far north east of the most north east state of India, called Arunachal Pradesh (see map below). It primarily supports education for the Chakma community, descendants of refugees from Bangladesh, originally welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Nehru in the 1960s, following flooding of the valley that became the Kaptai reservoir; see also our page about Moanoghar.
This population faces considerable discrimination. For example, though adults are legally entitled to vote, following an order by the Supreme Court of India, in practice voting registration is often refused by the more local officials.
BODHI has helped support these schools since 2005; in some years our support has been quite substantial (ie as a fraction of SNEHA's total support). We have also encouraged enrolment at these schools by other minorities. At times we have funded scholarships for others to attend. Peace building is an important element; the community will do better if they can advance more or less together, rather than with one ethnic group or another well in front.
December 2016 update; BODHI and SNEHA.
BODHI's management committee has regretfully decided that BODHI’s long-standing support for SNEHA is to end.
SNEHA provides schools and educational opportunities for disadvantaged communities such as the Chakma, Khamti and Singpho in isolated areas of the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. Compassion and right action are central tenets of the schools’ curricula. BODHI’s financial support has funded school infrastructure as well as contributing towards staff salaries (including of teachers) and other administrative costs.
The project has been very successful, with three schools now operating, two of which are reported to be self- funding. BODHI was also pleased to learn that SNEHA was on the cusp of receiving significant financial support from a large Asian human rights organisation.
The project’s success and potential access to another funding source were major factors in the committee’s decision.
The committee was also disappointed to learn of problems within the project’s Indian administration which resulted in SNEHA being investigated for the non-payment of contributions to the employees’ provident fund. The provident fund is a form of social security for the poorest staff. The committee was unable to obtain sufficient assurances from SNEHA to be completely satisfied that the project’s governance systems would be sufficiently improved. SNEHA is now meeting its provident fund obligation, including retrospectively. As a gesture of goodwill BODHI made a final and modest contribution of AUD$900 to this process.
There is no suggestion that monies from BODHI have been misappropriated. However the committee has an overriding accountability to BODHI’s donors to ensure that their donations are properly used.