Dr Graham’s Homes isn’t just a centre of care for some of India’s poorest children - it’s a fully-fledged school that provides them with a life-changing education. Step in and discover more...
What are the Homes?
From the beginning, the Homes were created to do more than offer shelter for orphans. Dr Graham wanted them to provide an education that would transform his children’s future lives. Today, the school he started still goes by the name Dr Graham’s Homes. Most pupils are from fee-paying families. But alongside them are over 150 sponsored young people: children from slums, broken homes and impoverished backgrounds who wouldn’t otherwise receive an education. The very youngest join the school aged two and are cared for in the Lucia King cottage.
A “home away from home”
A very special aspect of the school is its “Cottage System” of boarding, introduced by Dr Graham. Sprinkled across the campus are a number of cottages - every new child joins one of these cottages, some of which go all the way back to 1901. Each cottage has cottage parents. In the girls' cottages, this is an "Aunty"; in the boys' cottages, it's an “Uncle and Aunty”. These cottage parents live with the children and care for them when they’re not in lessons.
Cottage residents range from age two up to 18, and everyone is encouraged to help out with chores. Our sponsored children live alongside those who are fee-paying and are indistinguishable from them. Though most travel home to their families for the holidays, some of our children are legally determined as orphans and live at the Homes all year round.
The “Children’s City”
Originally spread over a handful of acres, the Homes have grown enormously in the past 120 years. Known as the “Children’s City”, it now stretches across more than 100 acres. Alongside the classroom buildings and the cottages, there are sports pitches, basketball courts, a medical centre, swimming pool, gym, computer centre, art gallery, music room and a dining hall where the pupils eat together. The campus even includes a guest house for visitors and returning alumni (“OGBs”), another of Dr Graham’s ideas.
A rich academic life
The school has around 1,300 pupils from nursery up to senior school age, and teaches the full Indian curriculum. It follows the programme for ICSE and ISC-level exams (equivalent to post-16 and post-18 exams in the UK). From Grade 9, children can select subjects from three key areas: Science, Commerce and the Humanities. English is the main teaching language, but the Homes also offers classes in eight other local and Indian languages, such as Hindi, Bengali, Dzongkha and Thai. There is a thriving vocational programme too, with subjects ranging from Home Science to Technical Studies.
The “school that looks beyond”
The school has always aimed to provide children with activities and skills that will enrich their lives beyond the Homes. Pupils can get involved in a wide range of extracurricular clubs and societies, from debating and quizzing to art, drama, horticulture, and a variety of competitive sports, including athletics, swimming, volleyball and basketball, to name but a few.
Music is another important part of school life. In 2007, the Homes Choir had a highly successful tour of the UK. They were featured on the BBC, sang at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and performed at the Great Hall in Edinburgh Castle, attended by Justin Timberlake and Elton John. The “Children’s City in Concert" is a popular annual event in Kolkata.
In the shadow of Kanchenjunga
Nobody who visits the Homes can fail to be inspired by the setting. The campus is perched on a ridge (Deolo Hill) in the Indian Himalayas, close to the borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. On a clear day our children can see across 50 miles of mountains to Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak. Mount Everest is about 75 miles further west. Spread out just below the Homes is Kalimpong, a bustling, cosmopolitan town that is popular with tourists travelling to and from the tea plantations of Darjeeling.