Saturday, December 20, 2014

Barsati's Garden

We’re so privileged to have a garden in front of our home. Not very much an admirer of flowers, both me and Angel have sort of learnt to appreciate gardening and flowers after seeing Barsati, the gardener at work . . .  

The morning view from our door . . .

The A block, where we stay . . .

The famous Grapefruits of Kachhwa

Another view of the A Block in which our home is . . . 
 Few more snaps . . .

Mr. Barsati,  the gardener with the magic hands . . . 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Millets . . . The Journey Continues

After, we moved on from NJH, we were quite at a loss to find out what we could do regarding the work we started with millets. At Kachhwa, we found out that there was no finger millet. However, there was quite a lot of pearl millet all around. And the interesting fact was that very similar to finger millet, the cultivation and use of pearl millet was also on the decline. 

On asking questions to the locals, we found out the following - 

1. It is easy to grow. It does not need much water. Which means that there is no additional investment for arranging irrigation facilities. 
2. Many knew that it was good for health. Very few knew that it was rich in Iron. 
3. Most of the traditional delicacies made out of pearl millet was long forgotten. Of note was the 'Bajri laddoo'. I'm still searching for someone who could make it for us. 

However, there were challenges - 

a. The cereal could not be kept for too long. One had to finish it within 6-8 months of harvest. 
b. If it was ground to flour, it could not be kept in the open for long.
c. There is a very negative feeling about the food item as it is commonly eaten by the poor. 

Well, it is harvest time now. It is not difficult to get the flour or the cereal. At 14 INR per kilogram, it is really cheap and like most of the other millets, it swells up as it is high in fibre and you need lesser volumes to quell your hunger. 

So, we tried out some recipes .. .. ..

Here are the snaps - - - 

Pearl Millet Cake

Bajra Idli

Bajra Dosai
Looking forward on how we can take this forward. Ideas are very much welcome . . . 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Empowered . . .

Adult literacy programs have played a major role in empowering communities, especially women. I remember my school days when the adult literacy program was in its pinnacle in Kerala.  For some reason, it is quite some time since I’ve heard about adult literacy campaigns.

At Kachhwa Christian Hospital, we have an adult literacy program catering to women from the nearby villages. A small group . . . but the impact this effort has brought to their families is massive.

Couple of weeks back, we had the ‘graduation ceremony’ of the first batch of the adult literacy classes.

Urmila, Malti, Nirmala, Urmila, Savita, Chunni, Kanti and Susheela with their certificates.
Standing behind is Mrs. Surekha
One of the students, Mrs. Chunni narrated how she was regularly cheated when she went for shopping. The shop-keepers used to quote more than the Maximum Retail Price printed on the purchased item. After she learnt to read, she narrated about an incident where she took the shop-keeper to task for quoting higher price for an item that she had purchased.

It was not without a remorse that the shopkeeper said,’ So, you’ve learnt to read?’

Again Chunni’s daughter narrated how she used to cheat on her mother regarding completing her home work. Now, that Chunni knows to read and write, there is more discipline in her daughter’s studies.

We had recently been discussing about expanding the program. As of now, the program happens in the hospital campus. A teacher can teach a maximum of 6 people for about 4 hours a day. Considering that the students are adults, they are not able to come for more than 2 or 3 times a week.

The adult literacy program is being led by Mrs. Surekha Kamble, a teacher from Maharashtra. Surekha, who has a masters in science and  a bachelors in education. Although she has ten years of teaching experience in schools, she finds it quite satisfying when she realises the impact she had brought about in the families of these women.

Dr. Raju Abraham, evaluating a adult literacy class.
The next batch has since started. Please pray for the efforts being put in by Mrs. Surekha and her team of teachers, Arti, Priti, Poonam and Guddoos. It is not easy. Considering into the fact that none of these ladies have been exposed to any sort of education, they need personalised care.Considering the intensive coaching that is required, we are not able to take more than 10 students in a batch.

We need more teachers like Mrs. Surekha who would be able to spend their careers in bringing about beacons of hope to many families.