[Shishya Society's History continued]


The initial intention was to serve orphans and children whose family situation debarred them from a healthy and happy childhood. A project emerged as teenage boys began arriving at the McRae’s small apartment in search of help and family. With the kind help of Canadian Government Grants, a campus has been established on the outskirts of Dehradun.


The once barren landscape of rocks, snakes and five trees was developed to what is now a beautiful campus with three hostels, a school up to 8th class, training facilities, sports and recreation facilities and a full working farm which produces much of the needed food needs for the community.


The community of 50 children and house parents living as three large families, along with other staff, make up the Shishya community. The school serves the community children, as well as over 400 village children. Our children go on from here to college and training according to their interest and ability with a high percentage of our more than 200 graduates, going into fields of service in remote areas.     

As the Shishya leadership expanded, gained expertise and experience, working with particularly the youth, they became more involved with other projects and institutions as resource persons in childcare. The commonality of problems, whether rich or poor, urban or rural, especially in the areas of adolescent health and the growing concern with the AIDS epidemic,  opportunities for Shishya opened up to be involved in running programmes for staff and youth of other schools and hostels in U.P, Mumbai and Chennai. Camps, training sessions and awareness programmes were begun from 1990. A comprehensive training programme was designed to train facilitators for AIDS Awareness teaching in 1998.

Shishya’s vision to serve the youth expanded as the wide spectrum of problems that the middle class youth of Dehradun were facing became more apparent. This happened with the news of four suicides, all teenagers, in the space of only one year, in a colony of Dehradun serving mostly service class people. With a growing concern emerging and local volunteers lending support to Shishya, research led to plans, which moved to actions, culminating in the establishing of a multi facetted service to youth and families.


The “Doon Youth Center” was established to provide free counseling services, youth drop in facilities, “Lifeskills” training into the schools, workshops on parenting, counseling, leadership, puberty, AIDS, substance abuse, etc.

Peer educators and counselors are being trained up to reach those young people who would never talk to an adult. Clubs are being launched (cycling, music etc)  to provide a better environment for the urban youth. Students from good schools are being walked through the slums, introduced to the joy of building relations with the street kids and balloon sellers, out of which lives on both sides are being transformed.

Today the vision continues to expand with clear understanding of the need to provide similar services beyond the small state of Uttarakhand. These unique services need to be duplicated in every other metro and district throughout India and her neighboring countries. This must be done! 


We must begin to own our communities, our cities, our states! For Shishya, we see our part as to either set up our own branches in other states or to resource groups of similar concern who will take on the vision for their locality.