Life is busy in India sorry about the lack of posting

I apologize for not starting this blog sooner…here it is Feb 1 and I finally found a computer with internet and I have energy.

It has been  a busy and very fruitful trip. I hope Paul has enjoyed it…he says definitely(he working on another computer in the same room here at SUCHI-Vellore).

I wrote the next few paragraphs on Friday at Kolkata airport and on the plane to Chennai.

Here we are here at the Kolkata airport heading to Chennai on Jan 28,2011. We left SGUS  at 5AM are waiting in the airport. We have not sent  a blog  as we have not been able to get on the internet all week at SGUS. The hydro was off every evening for many hours.  We are, for many, reasons all having an awesome trip (Joan that’s for you).

Let me start at the beginning…Paul Heffer and I left Toronto on Jan 20. Our flight was delayed due to the India air force practicing for the Air Show on Thursday…Republic Day here in India.  Republic Day celebrates the day the India constitution was put  in place in 1952. Our flight with AIR India was long but excellent….15 hours on plane is a long time.  We had a quick turn around at the Delhi Airport as we did not have a lot of time between flights.  We left for Kolkata  from Delhi within 1 hour of landing.(for another flight ..this one 2.5 hours)..everyone at the airport  was really good to assist us thro the airport .  The negative is that we got on the planned flight  but our luggage did not. We finally got our baggage on Jan 24. I was ready for a change of clothes!!!!!!

On Sat Jan 22, Marty and Carolyn friends from Haliburton arrived at SGUS in Kalaberia. They are travelling 10-12 weeks thro India. They will be with us for 8 days. We are all on the same flight today to  Chennai.  It has been wonderful to have them with us. They have truly made the week more successful.

We are working on not letting Carolyn and Marty go but be a part of HAVE in several  ways .  Carolyn has a lot of experience with NGOs and CIDA partnerships…and now she has seen one of our partners and was truly  impressed with their work.   Their travel with us and their willingness to be a part of these two weeks was not a coincidence..right Toos!!!

The week was  a success. We toured several days to 15-16 well sites in various villages within 20-30 kms of the SGUS headquarters.   We were welcomed in all villages. Oh yes we had lots of  Coconut water ..stilll good…even though I am a bit weary of the machetes they use to open them. as well as lots of Chi tea and biskets.    We all survived !!!

Joanna and Deb,  we spent many hours discussing all of the reporting procedures. We met with the potential   and, we think, new chemist on the project. His lab is within 10 km of SGUS. They have the contract to test all government wells in the 3-4 blocks around SGUS. Their cost per sample is 150 INR where BESU was 600 INR.  We plan to hire them to do all of the samples after the initial one. BESU will do the first test to include Arsenic which the lab near SGUS cannot do.

The next day we met with Debolina Chaudhuri a Social Research consultant. She came by bus from Kolkata and met with us for 3 hours.  We concluded that  she will assist with data consolidation…population,education,health,and all other baseline pre well information. She will develop new survey forms needed to more accurately answer some questions.  We agreed that Biswajit must hire a person to get the field data and complete the survey information as well as assist Biswajit where necessary.  SGUS is on track to finish all 30 wells by the end of March for year 2. 

We visited Sulkullapur and observed the well  that Toos and I saw being drilled last year. They have gardens around the school and the school children and villagers are happy to have fresh drinking water.

We also saw a new being drilled and Paul got to assist!!!  Video to prove it.

Biswajit, Kalpana, their son Pallab, Robi  and his wife Ceta and our driver Sonja  and all of their staff were so good to us.  The meals were superb.

Their school is growing with 50 new students starting Feb 3…the start of the new school year. They are trying to have a new classroom ready for that date. Dhanajoy is still the headmaster and says to say hi to Mrs Joanna,Robert, Ursala and Toos.  

The hospital  had a clinic Jan 21..21 patients for Cataract operations and today Jan 28…22 patients tonight.  The eye hospital continues to offer 40 -60 operations per month and continues to increase.

Yesterday  Jan 27 was a busy day. We visited two village in Khedjera block..Deulpota and Birbandar. Birbandar had a potter busy using local clay from the fields. His wheel was unique and ran by manaully turning it…you would have love it Grahame (just joking…I have a video). The other highlight was a sugar operation using the Kedgy tree and taping them similar to Maple trees . He was finishing a batch when we were there (he almost lost it and had to get it off quickly… Always happens when ther is a crowd around.) We are  bringing some home thanks to Biswajit.

The well  in Deulpota replaces a defunct well. The pump  was ruined and the water table had dropped to a level that the well was useless.  The depth of all wells are in the range of 650 to 800 feet. We are now using more 4 inch pipe( 140 feet ) so the pump will useful to greater depth.  

A highlight of Thursday  was attending a wedding reception luncheon for a friend of Biswajit and Kalpana.  The groom was 49 and the bride 40…500 for lunch.   An amazing wonderful Indian meal. After lunch we met with an NGO who is working with Water for People a group out of Denver USA.  The bridegroom is the head of this organization.They are working with schools only and installing washroom facilities. We toured two of their installations.  These are excellent.

They also have several people on staff who can train the trainers. This means training leaders on Health awareness issues and  well maintenance training.  They will assist SGUS to train members of his partnertship with the youth groups in various blocks in the district of Medinpur.  Biswajit is looking into a workshop for all of the leaders of the youth groups. We met several of the leaders when we visited the villages.

Three villages wells have electric pumps and tanks installed. The villages were able to raise the money. In two instances the children had donated money  so  their parents villages would have  fresh drinking water without pumping.  One donor  was a doctor in Kolkata and another an Accountant. Good stories about giving back.

I will add more on our first week when I read my notes..Paul, Carolyn and Marty have all  agreed to send their comments on their first week here in India.

We are now 1 hour from Chennai,TN  where Glory and Paul Vijaykumar will meet us. They will take us Trichy Tamil Nadu to visit  STEPS(our partner NGO) and RO Water Filtration system being installed at a school  about 40 km from Trichy. (3-4 hours south of Chennai.).   We will then travelled north on Sunday Jan 30 to Vellore,TN where the four of us we continues north to Kadpada (4-5 hrs north of Vellore)where we will visit SPREAWS and the 15 new well and 5 repaired wells in this area  Then return top Vellore where we will spend several days with thge SUCHI project. .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The conclusion from  our visit to SGUS is that there lots more to do …both  Tube wells and Sanitation projects (schools and EcoSan village toilets).

I’ll write soon Ron Reid

Speak Your Mind