Monday, 1 August 2016

Three months in India

Who am I ?

I am a french student in engineering school where I am studying environmental sciences.

Why did I choose India ?

I had to do an internship in a foreign country. I wanted to find a country completly different from France, with an other culture, an other language and other life conditions. That’s why I chose India, the second most populous country in the world, the 7th largest country in the world.

My arrival in India 

I started my trip with the capital, New Delhi , because I arrived at New Delhi airport from France. The first thing and the most difficult one when I came out of the airport was the heat (47°C). Then, the second thing was the most suprising one : the taximen. About 10 taximen came after me saying that the metro was broken. I stayed 3 days in Delhi where I could visit several temples, discover the old Delhi with its little streets, the diveristy of food and the amazing traffic.

Street of my hotel
Visit of the Lotus Temple in Delhi

My arrival in the centre

My center is located in Harike, Punjab. When I arrived, I discovered that Harike was a little village and was completly different than New Delhi. Indeed, the landscape is not the same, Harike is situated in the countryside and surrounded by wetlands. I also discovered the house of interns and I was pleasantly surprised because the centre was spacious and the rooms were nice.

The Harike centre

Harike, view from a roof

What are my projects ?

I am SWASH project manager and the field which interested me in particular is the waste
management. Moreover, the main problem in Harike about the waste is the soft plastics issue. Indeed, there are trashpickers who pick up all the trash (plastic bottles, glass, metal…) in the street except soft plastics. That’s why, we can find in the street a lot of soft plastics (in particular plastic bags).

Soft plastics area in Harike

Thus, the main goal of my different projects is to reduce the use of soft plastics or to reuse them.

The first project is the creation of cushion in soft plastics.
We implemented this project only in the intern house for the moment. Indeed, we collect our soft plastics (plastic bags, food packages…), then we wash them and we use them to cram the cushions (the cushions are made by tailors).

Washing of the waste
One cushion filled up with soft plastics
The second project is the reusable bags project.
To reuse soft plastics is a good idea but it would be better if we manage to stop the use of soft plastics and in particular plastic bags. Thus, this project is to make cloth bags to replace the plastic ones.
First, we picked up fabric scraps for free thanks to different tailors. Then, we found some women in the community who agreed to make bags with these fabric scraps. In exchange, we gave english courses to women who want it. For the ones who did not want English lessons (and made most of the bags), no compensation was asked as they said they were happy to sew the bags.
Thus, we managed to create 34 bags for the moment. The challenge now is to make sure that the community will use and reuse these bags.
Should we sell these bags ? Should we give these bags ? Should we work directly with the shopkeepers ?

Some of the reusable bags

Paralelly to these projects, I try to find some creations to do with plastics and I managed to make two things :

Pompoms in plastic bags

Bloom in plastic bottles (7 bottles)

Holidays and weekends

Some pictures of our weekends and visits 

Golden Temple, Amritsar

The Indo-Pakistani border

The wetland, Harike

Taj-Mahal, Agra

Gauthier Guerrar - France
SWASH Project Manager in Harike

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