Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Five interns, two buckets and a pile of gold…brown gold!

On a July weekend the members of the Sotla Interns house were presented with what can only be described as a mountain of a task.  Something that would test their metal, harden their spirits and leave them covered in animal poo.

Modestly equipped with a pair of buckets and spades, the five of us set to work to transport the pile of cow dung the ten meters to the stirring pit, mix it with water, and coax the slurry down into the bio-gas plant.  Why were we doing this?  Locked up in the cow manure is methane gas, which will be piped from the plant to our kitchen, providing a clean and renewable source of energy for us to use for cooking.  

To make our task even more dramatic, methane gas was leaking out of the pile as it was lying there for two days in the open, making it a race against time to get the manure into the hole as soon as possible.  Progress initially was slow and we felt the job would be too time consuming without the help of additional labour, which can be found around Sotla.  Alarmingly no labour could be found as they were all committed to working on the farms, and in an amusing inversion of the principles of ViKAS and SEVA, we found ourselves in a situation where we had money but no labour! (Our principles are labour first, materials second and money last).

There was nothing left to do but begin work and get as much completed as we could.  After four hours of unyielding toil, five manure covered bodies were lying limp on the ground, but the pile was no more.  We had won…It was gone.

Many thanks goes to Tom, Yiwen, Jerah, Martha and Julia.  Your valiant efforts will be etched into the minds of the other team members and local villagers, and you will always be remembered as the strange white people who left their lives of comfort, luxury and privilege, to come to India and play with the cow poo.  

(Courtesy: Renewable Energy Initiative - ViKAS, Bhunga-Dosarka)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Poet girls

Caryn, our intern from USA has started a poetry group with the Manderan Village Girls Club at ViKAS Centre Adampur. With a background and passion for many creative persuits, Caryn believes in the power of poetry to facilitate creativity, expression and improve the language skills of the girls.

With the help of Lauren and Natalia (the other two interns from US & Columbia for this project), the first Poetry session started in Manderan in the last week of June 2011. After creating some engaging discussions about friendship they named the new club 'Kavita' (which means poetry in Pubjabi). Bringing this poetry element to the Girls' Club gave the girls a chance to practice their English and to have an expressive outlet to communicate their feelings, desires and issues.

The girls were asked to write a poem about a friend. Caryn remarked: We were very pleased by their ability to articulate/read and share their poems in pretty good English as well as being impressed with the sentiment of the poems.”  Overall the girls were very engaged and enthusiastic and it was a great success!

This poem is by Akbir, she is twenty-five and her friendship poem was about her teacher:

"To my teacher:
I was a drop of rain,
You made me a nectar.
I was less than a man,
You made me a human.
People say that God is one,
But I say that God is two:
One's in heaven, and another on earth--that's you."

Another poem written by an adolescent girl named, Jasmit Kaur speaks of the various facets of her friendship with her best friend:

"I have many friends, but Hargot is my best friend.
She always speaks the truth; she is a good girl.
I see every quality in her which I want in my friend.
Sometimes we get angry with each other, but then we start talking.
She loves me and I also love her very much."

Apart from this Maria, Silvia and Guilia worked with members of other centres to start a new Girls Club in Janauri with initial activities focussing on cultural diversity and global awareness.   The interns gave presentations on their home countries, sharing with them some interesting facts about their cultures and life styles. The girls were happy to have new activities to participate in and to have a chance to practice and improve their English. The meeting finished with “musical chairs”, all the girls and the interns danced together fighting for the chairs!  A fun day for everyone!