Born in Malel Goan, a village in Uttarakhand northern India, Rishi Kumar had experienced how extraordinary and challenging rural life could be. His dream of saving the children, village and nature began early in his adolescent years when he left his village to further his studies in a town called Rishikesh. During that time, Rishi Rishirealized just how different city and village life was and the unique struggle required of people living in remote rural areas.

At the young age of 15, Rishi remembers sitting on a rock and pondering how he could improve the quality of life for village people by supplying a means of education and health care. He didn’t share these ambitious thoughts with anyone at that time but instead, continued his studies and obtained a Masters Degree in Commerce and a B.A. in Law. He spent several years in Kolkata assisting private firms with legal and accounting matters. Although this work kept him busy, he still remained unfulfilled. His life’s purpose was yet to become clear.

In 1986, Rishi’s aspirations motivated him to leave his work in Kolkata. He returned to Rishikesh where he met his wife, Usha. Rishi and Usha had two boys, Pranjal and Aditya. With the support and love of his family, Rishi was able to begin to realize his dreams when, in 1989, he opened the “Women’s Self-Sustainment Sewing Centre.” The sewing centre empowered many women and girls by providing an opportunity for them to create their own handmade products, gain valuable skills and earn an income. Rishi and Usha felt it was important that the women in the area knew that they were valued and worthy of an education.

The positive reaction and evident need for the Women’s Self-Sustainment Sewing Centre, was merely the beginning. In 1990 Rishi, along with his long-time friend Mr. Haridutt, trekked 150km from Malel Goan village to Srinigan in Garwhal. During this trek they stopped at various villages along the way and organized meetings to speak with the village people about the importance of education for all children, health care, and issues around living in harmony with nature and each other.Children at school

Shortly after the walk, Rishi and Usha began the Balmaitri School and Children’s Home. On July 15, 1990 in a small hut on the side of a remote road, Balmaitri School was opened with only 7 students. The school is now brimming with eager students and Rishi and Usha have given these children and consequently their villages, the opportunity to change their lives, improve conditions in their villages and to help mother nature sustain us all.

“If I save the children through education, then we can save the village. The child is the first unit of the family, and the family is the basic unit of a village. By educating the child, then the village will be healthy.”
Rishi Kumar, Founder.