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People's Environmental Awareness - Khati (PEAK) Follow PEAK with the financial assistance of World Nomads on the path to delivering educational, water supplies & solar home lighting systems to Kumaon villages....

Pens, pencils & rubbers (Part Three)....

INDIA | Saturday, 23 June 2007 | Views [1155]

Dr Biscott at the 'Scotpital'

Dr Biscott at the 'Scotpital'

Sitting at a 'telecentre' to use a computer is a world far removed from life in a Himalayan village.... I talk of the "path" to deliver supplies but I think I have failed dismally in actually describing the "path".

The path and indeed life in a small village is both exceptionally challenging but so, so rewarding. Finances for school resources have been an ongoing dilemma and it was fantastic to not only provide the necessary equipment for effective school functioning, but to alleviate the financial strain on families supplying children with stationary. Each child at both BK's School in Khati and at the Jatoli school (106 children) were supplied with exercise books and a pencil 'pouch' containing a myriad of goodies inclucding colored pencils, black lead pencils, pen, pen refills, rubber, sharpener etc. Thanks to Durga and Laxman our local 'ghora' (donkey) wallahs the goods arrived at both locations safely at the designated time. But maybe I won't go into detail on the jeep trip prior that saw PEAK's demonstration solar panel smashed! (I assure you, that is a whole other story?!).

BK's School (run by PEAK) has gone from strength to strenth and we currently have 84 students from Class 1-6 attending classes six days a week. The kids are super keen and eager. Art & craft classes (with environmental themes) have been a huge success. The kids excitement for their next class is palpable and constant.... we get asked constantly what class is on the next day (though they have already worked it out?!).

India's poor record on Health and Education is reflected in it's abysmal ranking in the Human Development Index published by the UNDP. This is reflected in both Khati and Jatoli. Jatoli has no Doctor and the school runs from Class 1-5 (only four children in town walk the distance to Khati for Class 6-8). Chronic teacher absenteeism is a constant problem (I mean why work if you can stay at home and still get your pay???....). However at Jatoli a shining light in the form of community member Deepak Singh has enabled the school to function until the actual teacher decides to come back. It was with Deepak we entrusted the teacher resource materials (books, hindi/english alphabets, numbers, craft materials etc).

The Government Doctor (who is meant to come to Khati for a few days every month) arrived for the first time in a year. We didn't see much Doctoring but we noted he had a definate penchant for copious cups of 'chai' (tea). Scott picks up the medical shortfall and is called upon in all hours of the day and night. Serious cases are referred to hospital (a two days walk away).

The fields are a verdant green at this time of year as the monsoon rain sets in. The alu (potato) crop is growing at a rapid rate and amaranth, rajma and cucumber are in the process of being planted. The wheat crop has been harvested and a few weeks ago laid out on bamboo matts in paved courtyards and threshed with hand carved wooden battons and winnowed with home made bamboo baskets (localised resources for matts and baskets etc grows in abundance in the Pindari valley). It is 'ringal' season and many people are involved in its collection and hand processing it into the end products.

Goats are currently streaming into the area and are moving up to the higher alpine pastures in the Sunderdhunga, Kafni, Pindari Glacier regions - while the numbers are environmentally 'worrisome' (in their thousands)they are declining as the lure of polyester bears witness to the decline of natural fibres.

Most males in the village are currently in the grip of 'keeda - ghas' fever. 'Kheeda - ghas' or Cordyceps sinesis is highly sought after for the Chinese market where it is used as a herbal 'viagra' (isn't everything?!). Before the rainy season begins, spores of the cordyceps mushroom settle on the heads of caterpillars' that live underground. The fungus gets into the body of the caterpillars' growing out through its head to complete its life cycle at the expense of the caterpillar. It is a rare Alpine herb of the higher Himalayas occurring above 4000 metres. At over one Lakh rupees ($3000 AUD) a kilo it is liquid gold.

The community of Khati has been tremendously supportive and the communal generosity overwhelming. A community 'working bee' was held to clean up the new space for PEAK's Environment Centre and renovations have been completed. But more on that later........

For now I would like to thank the World Nomads travelling community for supporting PEAK's Educational supply Project to Khati and Jatoli in the Kumaon Himalaya. I will be able to present some photos in the not so distant future.

I would like to add a special thankyou to Jai Mitra from the Almora Kitab Ghar for donating over 100 educational books to PEAK for the project.

A PEAK update will be available soon.

Bonnie & Scott

People's Environmental Awareness - Khati (PEAK)

Tags: education logistics



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