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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....

A world of crunchy snow, children and a Lammergeier sighting

INDIA | Monday, 23 July 2012 | Views [838]

A view of Khati looking down from the Devi Mandir

A view of Khati looking down from the Devi Mandir

February 2012.

Life is chaos. Solar maintenance, teaching, doctoring, nightly meals, more solar maintenance, doctoring, teaching ... and now Solar Home Lighting installation.

Whenever possible we walk up to the Mandir marvelling at the crunchy snow under our shoes while watching the kids 'sliding' on the opposite slope. It's amazing the speeds little people can muster on an icy slope with a rusty piece of tin under your bum!

Sometimes we startle pheasants in the ravines or spot Himalayan Martens darting across the snow and up the nearest tree. Himalayan Griffons frequently circle above scanning for cows with unsure footing on rocky slopes and once we watched a Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) dropping bones from dizzying heights onto the rocks below. These majestic birds in flight are known for their 'unusual habit of dropping bones onto rocks to smash them open and get out the marrow' (Source: BBC Nature/Wildlife). The omni present snow clad mountains a constant.

Installation of the Solar Home Lighting units into Dhoor was delayed by a few weeks. PeAk intends to employ a local person from each village to help with installation and maintenance. Jai from Dhoor was due to start work on January the 12th, however Jai vanished to Haldwani (an unannounced journey) and then came a combination of treacherous weather and 'rubber' time concepts, the latter has thwarted our best intentions on numerous occasions. Alas, work is due to commence tomorrow.

Scott has been kept busy with maintenance of Khati Solar Home Lighting Units. We still get a buzz out of seeing the light beams from doorways and windows as darkness descends. The local predilection for 'having a go' has wreaked havoc on perfectly good operating systems, regularly! Usually, the need for charging a mobile phone to listen to some music (we can blame only one gender for this...) outweigh the families need for a lighting source. Fortunately, the new units have come equipped with mobile phone charging capabilities -a feature that didn't exist in the units when we undertook the Khati project - that will ameliorate that problem. Our previous employee went the way of most Kumaoni males 'gambling and alcohol' go hand in hand in the region and if you throw in a touch of corruption you get the picture. Our new trainees are showing promise.

Taking advantage of improved weather conditions teaching is under way at the Library. We have no heating source so any vestige of sun is welcome and we have fun exercising before class starts. And if the kids are too cold impromptu games to warm things up are common. Today the Government school was due to start after a six week winter break. The teachers failed to show up. Some things never change. The kids said they were happy because there is no joy in sitting up at the school on the cold ground for hours on end staring at the sky while the teachers (when present) do little in the way of teaching. As one little bright spark said "they are great at time passing" (a popular Kumaoni male pastime!)

This year Pindari Baba has taken it upon himself to provide a wage for two young local men (Dalip and Naresh) and one woman (Khasti) to teach at the Junior School (Class 6-10). Class 9 and 10 are a new inclusion, previously the school finished at Class 8. There is such an ingrained culture of indifference that only time will tell if the employment of community teachers will change educational outcomes.... or not. Having said that it is a wonderful initiative to be encouraged.



Tags: education, india, khati, lammergeier, solar home lighting, uttarakhand



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