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)