Jisu Niketan School
In 1974, Canadian Jesuit brother Robert Mittelholtz SJ started Jisu Niketan School in Matigara, in the Jesuit Province of Darjeeling, for children who used to roam a railway platform close by. To this day, only very poor children are accepted in the Jesuit-run school, which does not require uniforms, does not charge fees and gives students breakfast and lunch. Apart from the usual academic subjects, which are taught in Bengali medium, students attend classes in music, dance, elocution and ecology.
Most of the 206 students are children of stonebreakers, very poor people who live by the Balason River in Matigara, West Bengal, and eke out an existence by making gravel by hand with the stones washed in by the river. The majority are refugees from Bangladesh and landless labourers who migrated from Coochbehar district of West Bengal, who are indigenous Rajbanshis.
Other students are children of leprosy and tuberculosis patients who are being treated in Jesu Ashram nearby, or of former leprosy patients of that hospice.
School director: Fr Wilfred Lobo SJ
Visit the Darjeeling Jesuits’ website: http://www.darjeelingjesuits.org