In December of 2008, a team from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, took a trip into the interior hills of Northeast India. This jungle region is one of the remotest areas left in all of India.
During this trip, the group visited Parbung School, a school of 320 students, studying in kindergarten through eighth grade. It didn’t take long to see the need for a better facility. The school was located in the basement of a small church building, a large open area with only thin, bamboo dividers separating the classes. The voices of the children and teachers in the “classrooms” echoed throughout the whole building, creating a huge distraction for the students. Besides having no proper classrooms, there was also the problem of space. Not only were the students packed into a building that was designed for a much smaller amount of people, but they also had no playground, and since the building was built on the side of a steep hill, no place to expand.
As the leaders of the school shared their hopes and dreams of a new facility with the team, a plan to help them make their dreams a reality was born. Plans were already being made for the 2nd Annual Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament in the Spring of 2009, and it was decided that the proceeds from that tournament would go toward building a new school building in the village of Parbung. And that was the start of a three year project.
After receiving the proceeds from the 3rd Annual Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament in the Spring of 2010, construction of the new building went into full swing. Most of the building supplies had to be brought in from Aizawl, a two day trip by truck over very rough roads, or up the river from Silchar, a two day boat trip.
With the building beginning to take shape, the people of the community pitched in to help. Even the children helped by carrying bricks and doing other small jobs.
The proceeds from the 4th Annual Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament in 2011 supplied the funds needed to finish the building, and by early 2012, the much anticipated, new Parbung School was nearing completion.
The dedication of the brand new Parbung School building took place on February 24, 2012. A group of six people, representing the Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament, attended the dedication ceremony. Here is a report from one of the members of that group.
“The first time I saw the new Parbung School building was on the morning of the dedication. I had seen pictures of the building from time to time throughout the three years that the project was going on, but it was so much more impressive in real life. Here we were, in one of the remotest areas of India, and looking at a big, modern, beautiful building sitting up on the top of a hill. It was an impressive sight! The building was way beyond what I, or any of the others in the group, expected. Seeing that building made all the effort that was put into the Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament for the past three years seem very worthwhile.
Foreigners very rarely visit this area, so it was a very big deal to the villagers that we were there. They started off the dedication ceremony by carrying us up to the school building on chairs attached to a frame of bamboo poles, the traditional tribal way of honoring special guests. Over one thousand people attended the dedication, a ceremony that included lots of singing, cultural presentations, speeches by various people, and ended with a big feast.
It was an honor for us to be there to take it all in, and an honor for our group to represent all of the people who helped make this dream a reality for a small village in a remote corner of India. Because of the hard work and dedication of the people who are involved in running the Lancaster, PA Softball Tournament, the softball teams who come each year and play, and the support of the community people who come to buy food and watch the games, a entire community on the other side of the world has been impacted for generations.” Michael Esh
Thanks to many generous donors and people who supported the Softball Tournament, this project has been completed.
Hundreds of children are now studying in this beautiful new building. On their behalf, all of us at FOR ONE LIFE say, “Thank you!”