Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Education will lead to empowerment of Migrants community in Janauri village

Education will lead to empowerment of Migrants community in Janauri village

On the outskirts of Janauri village lies a small migrant camp that has all to often been overlooked by the Indian society. The cast system does not only limit access to basic provisions but also stifles children’s opportunities to dream to strive for a better way of life. Many children here are unable to comprehend that they can improve their lives, as they do not know any different. Through education the prejudice from society can be challenged, and the children can attempt to break free from the societal pre-determinations of how they should live their lives.

Learning English improves the children's self esteem

Education can lead to empowerment. This is our firm belief at EduCARE India and can be seen on the ground in Janauri. Currently the 4 interns as part of EduCARE India's international internship programme undertaking their volunteer work in India providing basic English and Math’s classes which Erica Vass from US and local beneficiary group believes will “serve them well into their adult lives”. These skills taught to the children will aid them in basic money management and also allow them the opportunity to compete for more jobs in the future. The classes currently are running twice a week and according to Erica are “of the utmost importance in terms of promoting empowerment for these children.”

The children are highly attentive during lessons and always enthusiastic. Currently the children receive 2 after-school English lessons a week, however this number may improve due to the demand for learning. The children’s willingness to learn in the migrant camp is staggering. Despite having significant other concerns such as access to basic amenities they are still determined to learn and we are therefore determined to teach.

Learning through games

Education therefore is being used as a tool of empowerment that can result in long-term tangible benefits for the migrant children in Janauri. Sydney J. Harris stated that the whole purpose of education was to turn mirrors into windows and this can be seen through the work in Janauri. Rather than the migrant children assessing their limitations and believing they cannot improve their lifestyles, education shows them what they can achieve.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Better health = Better life

One of the important components of our projects are the health care and wellbeing of marginalised, poor, adolescents and women. Like many other developing countries, India too has several need gaps related to health care education and facilities. As India undergoes a transition from tradition medicine to modern medicine, there is an increasing lack of awareness of health issues and lack of access to health care facilities in many rural areas.

21 year old Jenny Bird and Kathryn Kaintz, both from the USA, and Kirsty Major from UK have spent the last several months initiating various projects in our Dharamashala cluster to address some of these health care issues at the grassroot level. "We have incorporated a few project activities aimed at addressing these need gaps, and to get to know and understand the health needs and concerns of the community better."
Jenny Bird conducting health surveys with some of the community women
Some current and past health care project activities include:
  • Community health care surveys to assess the health care issues and level of health care awareness in the community;
  • Adolescent health care awareness workshops in schools;
  • Nutrition, hygiene and wellbeing workshops during our Girls Club and Young Women Association meetings;
  • Connecting with the local public health care facilities including the traditional Ayurvedic hospitals to try to create good linkages with the rural communities, and; 
  • Community sanitation and waste management education and activities. 
  • Annual medical check up and record-keeping for the marginalised migrant community

Medical health camp with the migrant women

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Monsoon rains help our organic kitchen garden

Our organic farm 
It has been monsoon times in Naddi. Through September, the drops of water did not stop, and had cut the sun’s time to shine to 5 minutes every once in a while. Rainbows did not miss that opportunity to show up and add up to the already colorful village in the Himalayas.

Rainbows sneak in when rains stop for a minute

Clouds came and went around the surrounding mountains: sometimes a small cloud sat in between the hills, like a giant marshmallow, while some other times, these gas formations managed to hide entire mountains. Humidity and moist became the daily weather forecast. Clothes got endlessly wet, umbrellas the essential accessory for the season, and at night, the outside lights from the houses magically lit up the mist.

Organic farming

India depends on the monsoon to feed its ever-growing population, that reaches more than 1.160 million people now. While most of the country is dry and hot the rest of the year, non-stop monsoon rains through June to September provide the crops with just the right kind of climate to grow: at least 55% percent of India’s land depends on these rains, due to the lack of irrigation systems.

                                      Local organic cucumbers and beans

And although this year’s monsoon India had suffered from lack of rains in the initial phase but caught up so,me of the deficits in September. The late rain lead to difficulties for the population that saw how their crops withered before growing.

Initiatives like our kitchen organic farms aim to help sustaining villagers food production capacities. The motto is simple: why buying vegetables at the shop if you can grow your own? The first cucumbers, beans, carrots and pumpkins have grown and have been enjoyed by our community.
Bobby holds the first vegetables from the organic farm

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

SWASH Village - Rural waste management project

377303_10152085448585092_2117551373_nThe arrival of 6 plastic disposal bins to Naddi village would not make anyone else as happy as it has made this Australian 21-year-old volunteer-intern. Arrived on July, Morgan Mcintosh did not previously had any ideas on which project to establish in the village. And although she herself confesses not being “a very environmental person at all”, waste management problems in the area caught her attention immediately.

The local hills are green seen from afar during the monsoon season, but in a closer examination, other colors can be found: those of plastic bottles, plastic wrappers and other trash. “I thought it was a big shame that there were no facilities in the place, particularly in such a beautiful setting, so I thought I’d do something”.
People in the area would normally throw their trash away, or accumulate it in bins only to burn it all later, posing serious health and environmental issues. And after her first days of deliberation, she found out that the problem was also a concern for the community in Naddi.

The kids used magazine paper to make beautiful and environmental-friendly necklaces
“I was really happy that the community brought up the issue themselves before I even got the chance through Young Woman’s Association and the Girls Club. On my first couple of days, when I was giving it a thought, they showed their interest too” So she started doing some research and move into getting solutions for the problem by preparing a SWASH project (Sanitation of Water, Air and Soil for Healthy village).

Waste can be managed
Education was the first step: she organized several activities for the kids and grown-ups to know how to separate the different items. Reuse activities also took place in her project, like the necklaces made in Girls Club out of magazine sheets.

Morgan after her lecture on recycling at the school
But the main goal was to get several bins so that all these ideas got into practice. After decorating them, the Fun club was also devoted to trash picking and then sorting of it, an activity at which the kids showed all they had learned in the past weeks.

There are now recycling bins in the Sheynnee community, as well as the Government School in Naddi, where Morgan also gave a well-attended lecture about waste management to the kids.

A basic lesson about resources and their potential unavailability in the future was also part of her project.
As she puts it, “there’s lots of areas that need to be covered: recycling is important, but also sustainability, resources… more environmental issues will be covered when more interns arrive”.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Establishment of a Self Help Group

Cecile Poulain,
The women of the Naddi Self Help Group
One of the our micro-finance initiatives is aimed to create a Self Help Groups within the village communities.

A self help group is a socio-financial organization of villagers based on mutual support both in finances and other areas also. Each of its members save each week or month a small amount of money which is gathered in a common “box”. It thus encourages savings, and can provide its members with small loans at a reasonable interest rate for business purposes or in times of financial stress. 

The self help group of Naddi counts 14 members, all being young women from the community we work with and relatives from the area. They all contribute to the SHG giving 50 Rps on the 10th of each month. Each week they meet to discuss various issues in their community such as health and environmental issues. Many of them have expressed a desire to further their education and learn to read and write Hindi and/or English. They have then been able to support each other from within the group and some have stepped up to act as teachers for this purpose. They are really motivated and receptive, and enjoy coming to the group to ask constructive questions and learn more about various topics that interest them.
Enjoying different educational activities each week

This self-sustaining business model has the power to give them a total control and a structured mechanism to support each other and empower themselves. Through their own independence and open choice they decide to be SHG members, to save and to take loans and to pursue various livelihood opportunities that are of interest to them. They decide how they should use the money they earn and how it can serve health, environmental issues and their community. They are an autonomous group and as such independent from banks or MFI’s with high interests rate for lending. Thus, the main output of Naddi SHG is individual women empowerment, as well as social, human and financial community empowerment and sustainable community economy development.


A support and empowerment network for the village women
The SHG was created in June 2012 and since then meetings are conducted every two weeks. So far, we have had 3 main meetings: the first one to explain the principles of a SHG to the members, the second one to get the money collected, and the last one to choose the management committee and discuss the internal policy. The next two months will be devoted to the proper settlement of the group and for them to decide and develop their own business plans.

From October, till December, we aim to let the women to accumulate money. Nevertheless, we agreed on the fact that the money that they would add in the SHG bank shouldn’t come from a brother or father, but should be earned from their own additional income generating activity. This is the transversal link between the SHG and the other microfinance projects which help the women to earn their own money. As the SHG won’t deliver any loan during this phase, if women need money to start a business for example they can address their project directly to EduCARE India which can provide them a micro-finance loan (as has already happened for one member, Lata and the chicken coop). 

The SHG also involves a lot of fun activities like dancing!
Then, from January 2013, the women should be ready to start the internal group loaning process. They will also be able to register themselves as a SHG for mutual support and to be able to apply for grants and other external assistance from the government.

If everything goes well, they will become totally independent in 2013 and act as good role models for other community members to initiate more SHGs.

Cecile Poulain


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Waste Management - rural Himalayas


Morgan McIntosh, Australia

A problem evident throughout India, improper disposal of waste and a lack of required facilities is a challenge also facing the rural communities in the hills and mountains in northern India state of Himachal Pradesh. The adverse affects of waste being frequently thrown on the side of the road and piles burnt when collected is extensive and reaches to not only environmental concerns but also health. There are various organisations working on waste-management and environmental issues in the region but there is still a very long way to go. With no effort or project underway at our project site before our arrival in the village, Morgan McIntosh from Australia started her internship on the project SWASH village (Sanitation of Water, Air and Soil for Healthy village) with a 3-month implementation plan for the community focusing on both resource and facility development as well as educational activities designed to generate interest and awareness.  
“Here in this hilly village near Dharamsala my primary objective is to firstly introduce a system to collect and relocate the rubbish so that it is not burned in the vicinity of the community. With the community initially very receptive to ideas about waste-management projects I anticipate this step to be well received. I believe challenges will come from the transportation of waste from the community and possibly maintaining interest and enthusiasm in the project once the novelty has subsided. Having completed the research and planning part of my project, I hope to at least have achieved this first step before my departure.  
I hope to help the community understand the harms of the toxins produced from burning rubbish and assist in providing an initial alternative. I also hope to help the community feel a part of the extensive regional and global environment conservation movements. In the long term I visualise engagement with the community through a routine rubbish-pick up walk, placement of the waste collection bins near the shops in the village or neighbouring communities and engagement with the local school. In the future, there is also need to for work in water sanitation and management. However for now, with support of other team-members I will focus on achieving some small steps within the small part of the village community. At the end of the 3-month period we will be able to evaluate the success of the project and re-assess our strategy and activity plans as well as the community’s needs and attitudes to move forward for a community based sustainable solution and a working model. “

Monday, 30 April 2012

Community Network Building at the new Centre in Himachal

We have set up a new ViKAS Centre in a village near Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh with new empowerment and environmental projects starting up with the local community. 
As part of our overall community building and the initial development of the Young Women's Association, the young women of the community women have initiated meetings and discussions with our volunteer-interns!

We have also planned an integrated approach for the projects on environment conservation, sanitation, healthcare and micro-finance.

Our volunteer-interns interact with and allow the local women a space to feel comfortable and share their local knowledge and customs with us, and over much laughter and cups of chai (tea) we all got to know each other better in a fun and informal setting.

As part of the process of building relationships, trust and respect between the volunteer-intern team and the community, we also organised a traditional dresses fashion show as we wanted them to engage and participate in something that gave them pride and a sense of identity.

However, in the end, somehow, the roles got reversed, and towards the end of the session many women were dressing the volunteer-interns up!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Visit to CleanPlast

Harleen, Daisuke, and Ryusuke (the interns of EduCARE) visited “Clean Plast” on 12th of March in order to get some information about the local environmental issue. We achieved to get some valuable knowledge from Mr.B.S.Jassar, general manager of “Clean Plast”. So I’m going to share them now.

They`re recycling-facility in Hoshiarpur. They work for 24 hours. Their monthly production is 900t. They contract with Reliance Industries, that has a polymer production factory at Hoshiarpur.. Their raw material is empty bottle like Mineral water. They crash, wash and dry these bottles at their factory, and finally they make shape of flakes for clothes. They send their final products to other Reliance`s factories too.

First, migrants collect these bottles, trashed on the road, and they sell these bottles to local small shop. Other company, contracts with Clean Plast, collects bottles from these small shops and send to them. They recycle only clear bottles and send colored-bottles to other company. They collect bottles from 6 or 7 states, like Punjab and Delhi.

Their objective
・To be an environment friendly organization
・To use garbage and definitely create environmental system
・To make this organization sustainable one

Some questions to Mr.B.S.Jassar

What do you think of many garbage trashed?
India has lots of people, so we have lots of garbage. Currently, Indian government tries to reduce the population. Moreover, trashing garbage is a bad habit of Indian people. Government is now aiming to reduce the amount of garbage within 10years through recycling.

Please let us know about education system in India.
Currently, the literacy rate in India is 70%. The one in Punjab state is 76%, and the one in Hoshiarpur is 85%. In Punjab state, Boys are provided with education for free up to 15 or 16 years old. On the other hand, Girls are provided with education for free up to around 20 years old. Girls are also provided with bicycle for free. For long time, in India, only male went to school, and female didn`t. In order for girls to be more educated, government tries to give incentive to them.

Please let us know about garbage collection system around here.
Government made Pollution Control Division. They try to control the amount of garbage. At present, each state creates some regulation and check system. In Punjab state, if a factory brake some regulation, they`re fined. In Clean Plast, Officials come to check the water pollution level quarterly.

Do you know why any garbage collection car doesn`t come to Janauri?
They doesn`t have municipal committee, that`s why any garbage car doesn`t come. However, Punjab state tries to create garbage system in Janauri, this project is undergoing.

What do you think of NGOs like us?
He thinks NGOs have a really important role, and also said to us government wants to cooperate with NGO, because they want to know actual situation in each area.

Future Plan
・To increase production(but now depends on demands ) and to make this area free-of garbage

After this interview, they showed us inside of that facility and all the process. They also show us how to make the shape of flakes.

This visiting finished successfully. The information which we got from “Clean Plast” facility is very useful for our activities of SWASH and REstore.

REstore Dosarka Open

Hi, I’m Daisuke Yoshida, one of the EduCARE India’s interns from Japan. I’m student of WASEDA University in Japan and I’m working for this organization during my spring vacation. Today, I want to tell you about my project, REsotre Dosarka.

On 19th of March 2012, we finally achieved to open REstore Dosarka. Two Japanese interns (Daisuke and Naoki) held the opening event “Japan Day”. At first, we introduced the customers about Japanese cultures, where are famous Japanese places, what is poplar Japanese subculture and so on. And then, we made the presentation about REstore Dosarka, what is REstore, what we want to do. We got only 3 customers. But they looked very interested in our activities. So, regardless of the number of customers, we can say the event finished successfully. However, of course we must increase the number in the future. 

As the open of REstore Dosarka, I would like to inform you about REstore in details.

REstore Dosarka Goals/Objectives
The REstore Project will focus on two core objectives:
▼ Illuminating the local people and improving the environmental issue
→Through visiting to REstore, buying eco-friendly products and reading the posters which explain about environmental issue, the customers can get knowledge of global environmental issue and how to dispose waste.
▼ Producing local key-persons who are willing to make positive impact for the society
→Through mini library or interactive communication between interns and local people (especially local students) at the Restore, we want to create opportunities which make local people be interested in the development of their own areas, state, nation.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Young MacDonald

One would say it is a rare occurrence for a group of sixteen individuals of nine different nationalities to descend upon fertile land in rural India fully equipped with farming tools. But when you throw EduCARE India into the equation, it isn’t a rare occurrence at all – in fact, it’s quite common! So for this week’s Wednesday activity, it was a spot of organic farming in Sotla, headed up by none other than French volunteer Camille Fonteny (Organic Farming Manager), EduCARE’s very own version of ‘Old MacDonald’!

The aim of the activity was to overturn soil and clear weeds from a patch 20 metres long by 10 metres wide – a highly labour-intensive task. There’s no doubt that the land felt the full wrath of the volunteers’ shovels, which actually resembled axes in the way that they coming down over the shoulders of the make-shift farmers. Nevertheless, it was working. Camille set the standard as he swiftly overturned about a square foot of soil every couple of seconds…bare feet! The fellow volunteers followed suit and soon enough, each of them found their niche in the activity; whether it was overturning soil, clearing the uprooted weeds…or just standing with hands on hips pretending to look busy while enjoying the distant background Bollywood music!

To replenish subsiding energy levels, the volunteers pounced on the opportunity to gobble some freshly cooked boiled vegetables and rice (French-style) for lunch prepared by EduCARE’s Clemence Joris. While savouring the taste of the magnificent meal, the weekly meeting took place in which key issues were raised – this is always an important aspect of the Wednesday activity as it allows every volunteer to communicate new ideas as well as raise concerns. To conclude this meeting, kind words were shared about each of the volunteers that would be parting company with EduCARE in the coming week, namely Ryusuke Takeda, Rina Worumi and Everd Daniel (a big thanks to all on behalf of EduCARE volunteers!).

Camille on our activity and the next step for our Organic Farm
Ultimately, it was time to get back to the patch for another round of digging and weeding. To make the long walk to the patch less painful, a shuttle service was operated by one of the volunteers on an antique 1950s bicycle (of which the front tyre blew out later in the day). This appeared to be the lift that was much needed (excuse the pun) as the volunteers made light work of the remaining unturned soil. All in all, the effort that the volunteers put in today should pay dividends once the organic seeds have been planted. The goal is to use this new vegetation patch as a pathway to promote organic farming with the local community and to educate locals of the pros to this method of farming. A job well done, I say!
Hello everyone!!
My name is Ryusuke, from Japan.
I`m one of the interns at EduCARE India and also
REstore manager in Janauri.

This time I`d like to introduce my project.
On March 9th, I held an event at migrant`s community Paro.

In Janauri and Paro, some migrants from Rajasthan live there and make communities. They pick some garbage up and sell for living. Migrant`s children also have to work because their income is very low. So our center is facilitating a MCE program. MCE stands for Marginalised Community Empowerment. In that program, we try to teach the children about nutrition, hygiene, English, Punjabi, and so on.

Through my internship, I found they have really dangerous problem. I found this burned toothpaste-tube in their community. They seem to burn these tubes, plastic-bags, and plastic-tray, and they breathe these smoke. That`s very dangerous for their health. So, I thought I have to teach them what is good or bad for burning. Moreover, I want them to use candles as cleaner energy.

This time, we went to their community and asked them some quiz questions: what is good or bad for burning. Besides, I told a story, showing their children some pictures. This story is about a boy`s life. The message is “always try to do your best” and “You can change your life for yourself”.
At first, only a few people took part in my program, but many people got interested in my project gradually. Children could easily understand the story due to local people`s help with translation.

After telling the story, we talked with the community`s leader about education. Through this conversation, we found that Punjab state government tries to provide all children with some opportunities to education for free.

Moreover, one of the adults in that community seems to be interested in getting those chances. So, there are some gaps between them. However, if we can remove these gaps, we will be able to help migrant`s children go to school.

But, I was so sad when I asked the kids whether you`re interested in school or not, their answers ware “No”. Through this moment, I really thought talking with local people is really important to do some activities.

Next, I asked them some quiz questions about what is good or bad for burning. 3 children and many adults took part in this program.
At first, they answer paper is bad for burning because it is really dirty and plastic-bag is good for burning. But when I finished asking all the questions, they can answer accurately.

When I show them candles, one of the adults told us they tried to buy candles before and they really want to know how to make candles. So, we made candles with migrant`s children and adults at REstore on March 12th.
Hello everyone!
My name is Ryusuke, from Japan. I`m one of the interns at EduCARE India and also
REstore manager in Janauri.REstore is information center about environmental awareness
and also selling eco-friendly products like organic soap, vinegar, and baking soda.

This time I`d like to introduce my project.


On February 24th, I held an event at REstore. In it, I made a presentation about 3R, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Moreover, as one of the examples of recycle, I made recycle-candles through used-candles.

Through this event, I`d like to enlighten local people about environmental awareness and also like them to get interested in recycle through making candles.

In this event, I asked a shopkeeper (He is really helpful!!) to help me with translation. So, I could communicate with local people.In Janauri, most of the people can speak only Hindi and Punjabi, so language- barrier is always big problem for us every time we do some activities with locals.

Totally, 9 people came to my event, so I`m not satisfied with the number of participants. I`d like to hold an event with more and more people, so I have to consider solution like how to advertise.

In a few days, I was involved in After School Program, and I played football with children. After that, one of the children who took participate in my event pointed at the garbage in the puddle and said to me “Ryusuke, Pollution!! Pollution!!”

Moreover, I saw one of the participants who helps me with translation talked with others about recycle without my help.I was really happy to hear that. I want to hold another event soon, and at the event I also want to do my best.

Thank you for reading my blog!!!

REstore Manager Janauri