Did you know that 25% of all profits from Auromère Incense are dedicated to the growth and development of a small progressive school in rural northeast India?
Supporting the Ichhapur School in rural India
Ichhapur is a small village in the state of Orissa (northeast India), one of the poorest and most economically-challenged regions in India. Most of its inhabitants are farmers/peasants.
The Icchapur School, formally known as the Sri Aurobindo Centre of Integral Education at Ichhapur, is formed under a charitable trust registered in the State of Orissa. It is founded on the principles of Integral Education, which gives equal importance to the education of mind, body, life and spirit. Students in this school are treated with equal respect and without any discrimination, particularly in regards to caste, religion, gender or social background.
Minimal tuition is charged for the students (who come from very disadvantaged families), and scholarships are offered to particularly impoverished children. Needless to say, the school relies heavily on donations from outside in order to survive.
Presently serving 130 students from kindergarten to class 10, there are plans to expand the boarding dormitory which currently houses 5 children.
In 1989, the first school in Ichhapur was founded by Prasant Parija, his brother Sarat, and several friends on a small plot of land he had inherited from his grandfather. Educational materials were scarce, but a few teachers were hired and did the best they could within their modest means.
Being just a tiny village school, it was constructed much like all other buildings in the area: a mud hut with a a roof made of leaves, enough to keep out the intense heat.
In 1999 a super-cyclone hit the Eastern coast of Orissa. It was the most intense recorded cyclone ever to form in the northern Indian Ocean. Ichhapur and the entire village – including the school – were completely destroyed.
Although the effects were devastating, the team persevered and embraced the challenge as a new beginning for the school. Fundraising was undertaken to rebuild – this time with a proper, functional concrete building.
Over time, more children began attending from surrounding regions, and thanks to a grant from patrons in Germany, a new building with additional classrooms and a dining hall was constructed.
A Promising Future
The Ichhapur school has since become a leading educational resource for the surrounding rural region.
Progressively, new grades have been added to the curriculum, and since 2011 the school has been able to offer classes up to the crucial 10th grade level. At this point, all students are required to participate in an examination by a State commission.
The children of the Ichhapur school consistently achieve high rankings compared to the other schools in Orissa. Upon successful completion of their examinations, students then have the freedom to choose whether they’d like to continue their education at higher level secondary schools and colleges.
New Challenges: COVID-19 Pandemic
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, normal operations of the school have been closed since March. School sessions and tutoring have had to continue online with periodic assessments for primary and high school students. Education for primary students is supplemented by teacher visits to their residence, with regular teacher-to-student contact maintained by mobile phone to ensure progress in learning. Since the pandemic started, regular income for the teachers and the school have dwindled and almost completely stopped, so that the school has been more or less in a state of financial crisis and the school has had to rely heavily on donations to continue its activities.
Support for the School
25% of all profits on Auromère incense are contributed by Auromère to the Icchapur School in Orissa. The manufacturer of Auromère incense, Lakshmi Kripa (run by one of the school’s founders, Prasant Parija), also contributes in equal measure.
So, by purchasing Auromère Incense you are indirectly supporting the growth and development of the school!
It is also possible to support this school directly, and charitable donations can be sent through our 501(c)(3) non-profit parent organization: Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham (SASP). For more information making direct donations for the school, please contact us through the SASP contact page.
See more of the Ichhapur school in the Photo Gallery