It’s been an experience full of amazing people and challenges hidden where least expected.
It’s been six months of working on alternative energy project – a solar water heater. During this time I have experienced many ups and downs and I even doubted if I would be able to see the result of my work.
Three days ago I was so excited having my first HOT shower in Maitti (Himachal Pradesh, India). Yes!!! Water was heated by using my solar collector.
As I see it, this is just the first step of a very ambitious program which aims to raise the awareness of sustainable use of energy (energy efficiency, energy conservation, renewable energy, alternative energy, solar energy) within the community as well as introduce this new technology for the benefits of the community members, the step which will hopefully lead to big achievements in the future.
Today I’m not writing much. I have uploaded a video where you can see the result of my work. The video is available here.
– Albert Garcia, Aug 2014
I interned for a grassroots NGO, EduCARE India, in rural Punjab, India for three months. EduCARE India’s vision is to promote pathways to intellectual freedom, social justice, community welfare, economic liberty, and sustainable development for individuals, families and social groups working to achieve their rationalized life dreams. Read more – http://giveyourgap.org/2012/02/23/caryn-oppenheim-educare-india/
I wanted to find out. And Naddi–a village that has undergone perceptible social change in the past 20 years–serves as a compelling place to ask. Research I’m conducting on female education patterns in Naddi already indicate an increase in girls’ graduation rates. Girls in Naddi today are simply more privileged than their mothers were. Whether this progress has to do with successful government schemes, poverty reduction, or a change in attitudes isn’t yet clear. I thought teaching about the girls’ education crisis at Girls’ Club, our after-school program, would act as a lesson in both gender awareness and gratitude.
And it was. To start, each girl received a prop that symbolized why a girl does or does not attend primary school, although they weren’t told this pivotal detail until later. These included a picture of a bus (transport), cooking utensils (housework), play money (tuition fees), a scarf (a school uniform), toilet paper (access to a restroom), and sewing supplies (child labor). One girl, Priya, was told that her prop was “being born a girl.”
Next, the girls were divided into two groups based on their objects. Those with props that symbolized access to education were rewarded with cookies, books, and a laptop. Those with props that symbolized a hindrance to education were given nothing. The tensity was palpable. The privileged group giggled amongst themselves, eating and in awe of the computer. The disadvantaged group gaped at them—some girls even looked glossy-eyed.
When watching the disadvantaged girls mope became too much to bear, I explained the activity’s purpose. I relayed some facts and statistics (for both India and abroad), Malala and her schoolmates’ story, and the benefits of female education. With the help of Fatima, an intern who translated in Hindi, the girls listened intently and shared their thoughts about the crisis. The older girls said that India’s free education system should improve the situation. They even discussed the rising costs associated with their own school uniforms. The younger girls expressed surprise that not everyone goes to primary school and that it’s truly unfair. Eleven-year-old Sunanna, never one to shy away from candor, even suggested that once all the girls in the world are educated, “we will be strong and can go to Pakistan to confront the men who hurt Malala.” It’s a lofty proposal, perhaps, but one that implies an impact, and even a little hope.
Tricia Taormina, United States of America
ECRC and Girls Club Project Manager
Located near Nakoda, the Green Planet Energy Ltd Biomass Plant produces 7,000 kilowatts of energy per hour (KWh). Assuming the average house utilizes 3 KWh, this one plant produces enough energy to power 2,333 homes every hour. All of this energy is produced through the burning of biomass (organic) waste that would otherwise be burned in farm fields.
Full view of the biomass plant with the boiler on the left
Benefits of the Biomass Plant:
Biogas Plant Process:
Compacted biomass is loaded onto a belt leading to the boiler
Waste Products/Emissions from Biomass Plant Processes:
Of course, burning the biomass fuel creates waste fumes. The fumes contain particles of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas for humans to breathe, and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas widely considered to be contributing to global warming.
The workshop team in front of the electric static precipitator (from left to right: Clement, Adrien, Owen, Gulshan, Biomass Plant Engineers, Ariel, Katrina, Mandy, and Sevil)
The Electric Static Precipitator (ESP) presents a solution to this environmental waste dilemma. The ESP processes the gases from the boiler with charged electrodes.
These electrodes attract the harmful particles in the fumes, releasing clean oxygen and solidifying the carbon particles into ash.
The ash is then used in building materials, such as bricks and roads. 99.4% of the harmful gases are collected through this ESP process.
After a full day of field visits, it was not only a highlight, but also a privilege to be shown the inner workings of this biomass plant.
By Katrina Sill, USA
Last week in Naddi, we took over Fun Club (the after school program) in Sheney to teach the kids about what it means to be healthy and making healthy choices. The kids were all enthusiastic as we brainstormed what it meant to be healthy, but they were even more excited when we brainstormed unhealthy things, yelling out their favorite foods – ice cream, lollipops, chocolate! Eventually, we had the kids thinking beyond food and we began to talk about how happiness, work, and friends have to do with being healthy. Next we talked about “choices” and what it means to choose something. With folded paper and color pencils, we drew healthy choices on one side and unhealthy choices on the other – careful to avoid things that we did not have control over, such as the air we breathe or diseases we’re born with.
Once the kids were thoroughly antsy, sick of sitting on the ground of the Fun Club room, we herded them outside to play a game about healthy choices. The kids lined up on one side of Sheney, divided into two teams, and we put the brainstorming poster on the other side with a line down the middle, dividing it into a healthy and unhealthy side. I stood in the middle with a stack of homemade cards – healthy or unhealthy choices on each (with an image, an English label, and a Hindi label). The kids had to hop on one foot to me, get a card, hop on the other foot to the poster, and stick the card in the correct column before hopping back to their team and tagging the next person. The relay race began with cheers and yells from both sides. (The kids can always be counted on to get a little competitive!) And as they hopped across the community, women came out of their homes to watch, smiling and laughing as the kids haphazardly jumped from one end to the other. At the end of the race – amid cheering, laughing, and overall confusion about which team actually won – we gathered around the poster to go over the cards. All the kids yelled whether each choice was healthy or unhealthy – vegetables, ice cream, sleep, water, visiting the doctor, visiting the dentist, fighting, going to school, cigarettes, soda, alcohol, many more – and we moved any out-of-place cards into the right column.
As the sun began to set and Fun Club came to a close, I pulled all the kids together outside and we pledged to make at least three healthy choices every day. “What should our healthy choices be today?” I asked. In the middle of the community, we did ten jumping jacks together, shouting the number of each one, choosing exercise for our first choice. Then I handed out lichis, and we stood together, peeling away the rough skin and sucking on the juicy fruit, choosing fruit as a healthy snack for our second choice. “What will be your third?” I asked, and everyone shared what they would do – push-ups, sleep, be nice to their friends, eat dal…
This simple activity may seem unimpressive to an outsider, but it was the first health activity with the kids and we all considered it a great success. Now they are beginning to think about health, what it means to be healthy, and how all the choices they make day-to-day affect their well being. Children are the future of course, and as this generation grows up, we want to ensure that the community will continue to thrive and develop even healthier lifestyles.
United States of America
Rural HealthCARE Project Manager
Education leads to empowerment; it is more so true for the children in the rural Migrants communities. On the outskirts of Janauri village lies a small migrant camp that has all to often been overlooked by the Indian society. The cast system does not only limit access to basic provisions but also stifles children’s opportunities to dream to strive for a better way of life. Many children here are unable to comprehend that they can improve their lives, as they do not know any different. Through education the prejudice from society can be challenged, and the children can attempt to break free from the societal pre-determinations of how they should live their lives. We are striviing to develop a sustainable engagement of these children in sustainable, just and peaceful society.
The arrival of waste disposal bins to the hill village would not make anyone else as happy as it has made this Australian 21-year-old volunteer-intern. Arrived on July, Morgan Mcintosh did not previously had any ideas on which project to establish in the village. And although she herself confesses not being “a very environmental person at all”, waste management problems in the area caught her attention immediately.
The local hills are green seen from afar during the monsoon season, but in a closer examination, other colors can be found: those of plastic bottles, plastic wrappers and other trash. “I thought it was a big shame that there were no facilities in the place, particularly in such a beautiful setting, so I thought I’d do something”.
People in the area would normally throw their trash away, or accumulate it in bins only to burn it all later, posing serious health and environmental issues. And after her first days of deliberation, she found out that the problem was also a concern for the village community.
The kids used magazine paper to make beautiful and environmental-friendly necklaces
“I was really happy that the community brought up the issue themselves before I even got the chance through Young Woman’s Association and the Girls Club. On my first couple of days, when I was giving it a thought, they showed their interest too” So she started doing some research and move into getting solutions for the problem by preparing a SWASH village project (Sanitation of Water, Air and Soil for Healthy village).
Waste can be managed
Education was the first step: she organized several activities for the kids and grown-ups to know how to separate the different items. Reuse activities also took place in her project, like the necklaces made in Girls Club out of magazine sheets.
Morgan after her lecture on recycling at the school. But the main goal was to get several bins so that all these ideas got into practice. After decorating them, the Fun club was also devoted to trash picking and then sorting of it, an activity at which the kids showed all they had learned in the past weeks.
There are now recycling bins in the Sheynnee community, as well as the Government School in the village, where Morgan also gave a well-attended lecture about waste management to the kids. A basic lesson about resources and their potential unavailability in the future was also part of her project. As she puts it, “there’s lots of areas that need to be covered: recycling is important, but also sustainability, resources… more environmental issues will be covered when more interns arrive”.