"A young boy from the village of Gya in a remote part of Western Ladakh becomes an award-winning film maker. Another from the Eastern part of Ladakh sets up a natural building company with three others. A quiet but determined and hard working girl starts the first ever all women travel company in Leh. A young lad starts a small business selling locally made food products. Another joins politics and holds the Education portfolio in the Hill Council. Two others start a cheese-making enterprise. Several others are head masters or teachers in government schools. Another becomes an IAS officer and yet another, a police constable in Leh.
There are common threads that run through their lives: they are all from remote farming villages of Ladakh, but more significantly they all had a stint in SECMOL (the Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh), an NGO that has done path-breaking work in the field of Education in Ladakh.
I am in Leh in the summer of 2014. I get a chance to interview four of them and I realise that they have much more in common: a disadvantaged childhood marred by poor schooling; finding their feet and establishing themselves as responsible adults trying to earn a living (many through entrepreneurship and green livelihoods); and demonstrating a concern for the environment and a sensitivity towards others more disadvantaged.
I am curious to know more. I interview some of them to find out how and to what extent SECMOL shaped their lives. As I speak with each one of them, I try to understand the impact of SECMOL’s work through their experiences and struggles."