Visit to Community Development projects in remote areas
We had another early start leaving Hanifl centre at 8.30am in 4 jeeps accompanied by MGVS staff through spectacular scenery past views of the snow-capped Himalayas and rhododendron bushes in full bloom towards amazing terraced fields with green wheat crops. We first visited Sutti, a school with 135 children which MGVS have provided with safe filtered drinking water, two toilets and first aid box administered by a local disabled lady. We were able to share with them and distributed pencils, stickers and sweets to each child. It was good to learn that since the filtered water has been used the levels of diarrhoea and sickness are much lower.
Then it was down to the valley floor for delightful picnic with the Women’s Co-op. They showed us their organic farming projects and shared about their various food products such as smoked chicken, Japanese miso rice, ginger and lemon squashes, jam and pickles, and rice husk charcoal used as a fertilizer. This co-op has 26 members and has been able to send women for training in how to market their produce direct to suppliers in Delhi. It was great to watch Surender, Director of MGVS, interact with these ladies and it was obvious he had a great rapport with them.
Then we drove a short distance to another village accessed by a steep path where we were warmly welcomed by the Women’s Self Help group. This group was lively and keen to share their experiences with us. The women meet together each month and enjoy discussion and interaction with one another; previously they were isolated in their own homes. It was a humbling experience to hear of their work in petitioning local government for water and electricity and of setting up a credit and loan scheme to allow them to pay for farming supplies, wedding expenses etc. But best of all, we felt the joy of connecting with women through sharing, as Valerie tried valiantly to explain her role as pharmacist in Hindi to their blank expressions followed by uproarious laughter. An amazing day with a privileged insight into the lives of women so different yet so similar to our own.