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It's Buddha's Smile School's pleasure to send you all photos and news from the lives of our students. BSS has been called "a temple" and "the seventh wonder of the world" by its students, who come from some of the poorest and most disadvantaged homes in India. It is because of your generous and heartened support that our students are transforming from impoverished children to bright, confident and promising young adults. Have a look for yourself in these stories from the last year at BSS.

Meet Sharmili

Currently the littlest member of our BSS classrooms, Sharmili has been eagerly hopping on the bus with the big kids on their way to school. Sharmili will officially start our nursery class in July with another new batch of bright souls, and until then we enjoy having her attentive little presence in the classroom. We look forward to many more new BSS students in the future.

Home Visits

We started off the year visiting all the homes of our BSS students, who live in leprosy and refugee colonies, and lower-caste slums around Sarnath. On these visits we brought winter caps and scarves for the families, and checked in with all the kids to make sure they were on top of their work and ready for the new session.  Most of our students work after school as bead stringers, beggars and other jobs. In wedding season they find work carrying lights in wedding processions, like in the photo above.

Our newest batch of BSS students
Last May we recruited our newest batch of young BSS students from a slum near the Varanasi railway station. This is one of the most wretched slums in Varanasi. The people suffer so much that many have given up on goodness and their behavior is reckless. It requires a lot of love, patience and attention to assimilate these children into the BSS classrooms, but we gave them extra training during the summer holiday in good behavior and motivation. Now these children are happy coming to BSS each day and are learning to see a brighter future for themselves.

Learning to give

Rajan sees the turning point in her students' education when they are able to give gifts (above photo). Following the footsteps of their parents the children learn a poverty mentality that only knows taking. At Buddha's Smile School they learn to see things differently, and their self-fulfillment is marked when they find joy in giving.
 
BSS Grads Making Big Steps

Sixty-nine students have graduated from class 5 at BSS and are now in middle school (grades 6 to 12) in Varanasi. BSS sponsors their middle school education and guides them each evening with tutorials and moral support. Presently our oldest class 11 students are at a time of big decisions - in April they must choose their major subject for higher studies. April is also when our middle school students will receive results declaring their academic performance for the year. We wish best of luck to all our BSS graduates, and we are so proud of their hard work and accomplishments!                   Satvan in class 11 won 1st place for vocal music in the district level competition!


NEW Guest Rooms at Sarnath Cafe!    

Sukhdev has now completed four new guest rooms above Sarnath Cafe, and they are open for lodgers! Each room has air-con and its own bathroom with hot water. We hope these guest rooms will generate income, and offer proximity for visitors and volunteers to BSS. Next time you come you will be able to stay with us right inside Buddha's Smile School, and enjoy Chef Sukhdev's "best food in Sarnath" as if you are in your own home!

Drummer Boy

Deepak is deaf and mute, but he is learning to become a master "tabla" (hand drums) player through lessons at BSS. While other students will move forward through higher grades, Deepak will become certified by an esteemed institute of Indian Classical Music ("Prayag Sangeet Samiti") and be able to stand on his own feet as a tabla teacher or performer.            Prof. Jay Garfield and Prof. Leila invited Deepak to perform tabla at the nearby Tibetan University (above photo) and it was a grande moment for Deepak's self-confidence and improvement!                                                                                                                                                           Thanks again to all for your great kindness and support, and for being a part of the Buddha's Smile School community!                                                 Love,  Rajan                                                                                                
BULLETIN for BSS friends near NYC: Please join us at an Open House benefit for Buddha's Smile School! Bring your friends and family to Matthew & Agnethe's home: 814 East 19th Street at Avenue H in Brooklyn, on Saturday March 2nd from 4-7pm.

Komal

To those who don't know, Komal, a 6 year old in our nursery class, was hit by a speeding rickshaw on Saturday, January 19th. We send our warm thanks to all of you for supporting Komal, through your generous donations, prayers of health and the love you bring to this community. Last week Komal had her first jaw surgery. Now with the care of BSS and her family she is on the road to recovery. 
Middle school girls in their after-school tutorial (above), and displaying their proud exam results (below).

Colourful Exams

The key to BSS' success is playful, fun and colourful lessons that attract the children to learning. The children attend classes with interest and enthusiasm for their subjects, and have fun appearing for their exams - as you can see in the photo above. Along with this play-way method, BSS gives special attention to each and every child. Most of our students come from destitute homes and BSS is only the place where they get proper care and attention. Love makes all the difference at Buddha's Smile School. In August/September BSS arranged treatment for more than 30 students who fell sick with malaria (Kushboo is tested, above). Heartfelt thanks to all who sent emergency medical funds to allow for their recovery!

Sarnath Cafe Renovation

Last summer Sukhdev undertook a full renovation of Sarnath Cafe and kitchens. The improved Sarnath Cafe opened in August with the same delicious menu of best-quality food (cooked with ghee), but with a more spacious, comfortable dining atmosphere. Many agree Sukhdev's food is the best in Sarnath, but few tourists know about this gem of a Cafe. Besides cooking a hot, nutritious lunch for all 290 BSS students every morning (one reason the children come everyday), Sarnath Cafe is the backbone of the BSS family enterprise. Please help us to tell your friends about this excellent restaurant through Trip Advisor or guidebook posts, and be sure to stop in for a tasty meal next time you visit BSS! Sukhdev taking orders in the newly opened Cafe (below). 
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rajan@buddhas-smile-school.org
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