Teacher Steve Smyth has been to India to meet the Dalai Lama and see how his school back home in Pudsey is helping destitute youngsters in Dharamsala get an education.
Mr Smyth, pictured fourth to the left of the Dalai Lama, travelled 4,000 miles from Crawshaw School, where he teaches ICT, to get to the foothills of the Himalayas on time for the official opening of two new hostels putting roofs over the head of up to 90 of the poorest and most vulnerable youngsters in the area.
He was there as a guest of the Tong-Len Charitable Trust in India and Tong Len UK, for which his school has raised more than £7,000 over the past six years.
Pupils at Crawshaw, a specialist Humanities College, have been sending money to the trust to help destitute children get full-time education.
Mr Smyth, who lives in Saltaire, is Crawshaw school’s international co-ordinator and is also a personal sponsor of the charity.
On Saturday, he joined other supporters and sponsors to see the Dalai Lama at the celebrations marking the hostels’ opening.
He said: “It was a great honour to be invited to this event and to represent the school at an international level. We have done a great deal of work in developing links with Tong Len over the years, so it is very satisfying to see the developments made and the impact that the charity has on the lives of so many young people.”
During his time at Tong Len, Mr Smyth has also been working on lesson ideas to bring home for his Year 7 geography pupils looking at migration and why people end up living in poverty.
And his work in India does not stop there – he has already set off on the next round of his trip to visit Crawshaw’s partner school in Kangra in Himachel Pradesh 20km away by train.
A global school partnership with Kangra’s GAV School has seen several staff exchanges over the past three years and now Mr Smyth is planning a student exchange at Easter next year.
He is also working with GAV teachers to put together joint curriculum projects for the future – in July this year Crawshaw’s world-wide work was granted intermediate stage of the International Schools Award.
To find out more about supporting the work of the Tong-Len charity go to tong-len.org