Exposed to CHAI in Darjeeling

CHAI = Community Health Advancement Initiative (a local NGO)


chai = tea

Both are amazing.  But back to the point…

One of the many perks of this fellowship is an AIF funded exposure visit to see the work of our fellow fellows.  I travelled to beautiful Darjeeling to visit Meraj and Megan, both of whom work for CHAI, a local public health NGO working in conjunction with Broadleaf.

Meraj and Megan both work on the Comprehensive Health and Hygiene Improvement Program (CHHIP) project.  CHHIP is a health education and improvement program facilitated and implemented by community level school health activists.  The program implements health education curriculum in partner schools, conducts health monitoring and early intervention, and recommends improvements to the school health environment.  The CHHIP program reaches approximately 500 primary school students in 11 partner schools.

We visited Marybong local primary school where Meraj, Megan, and one of the program’s school health activists showed and explained the school health curriculum.


school darj Meraj 1


After the field visit, we stopped by the CHAI office in downtown Darjeeling to meet some of the staff.  I was impressed by the visit, and by the work that Meraj and Megan are doing in Darjeeling.  Providing health education to rural and underserved students in the Darjeeling area, and across India, is incredibly important and it was inspiring to visit such a well-run and impactful organization.

Concurrent with her fellowship, Julie is completing the 2nd year of her Master's degree program at Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development. Inspired by the novel Shantaram, Julie's passion for service in India began in 2011 when she served on multiple short term teams to support initiatives in rural southern India. There she helped support community initiatives and capacity building through micro-enterprise efforts with women and teaching English at a local school in rural Tamil Nadu. Prior to that, Julie served in the US Navy in Reactor department on the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, and in Combat Systems department on the cruiser, USS Bunker Hill. She also taught and trained future Naval officers at the University of Notre Dame's ROTC program. Julie's service to her country and extensive travel abroad have shaped her into a global citizen with the desire to pursue a life of service to others. Through this fellowship, Julie hopes to help provide rural electrification solutions in order to alleviate energy poverty in West Bengal, India.

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One thought on “Exposed to CHAI in Darjeeling

  1. Interesting, Julia. Years ago, I traveled this region and am interested in learning more about the the CHHIP organization you visited. Do they have a website?

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