Category Archives: EduCARE

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Steps towards a sustainable future

Just a short walk away from the main square in the village of Naddi lives a small community that we refer to as the “Shanney community”. It consists of eight families, about 40 people and although they are only a short distance away from the main village they tend to live their daily lives somewhat removed from it. Like every person around the world they have basic needs and wants with regards to their health and sanitation but due to a lack of a sense of empowerment, education and finances they don’t have the sense of responsibility, the knowledge or the organisational skills to implement ideas that will help to give them a better standard of living.
This is where EduCARE India comes into play. An old Chinese proverb springs to mind that might best explain our intentions;
                              Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.
We intend to teach the Shanney community “how to fish”. Our programmes involve sustainable community development that will help empower the community and teach them that they can take responsibility for their lives, health and environment. We want to show them that they are not entirely dependent on the state to organise infrastructure that pertains to their health, safety and sanitation.
On Saturday the twelfth of April 2014, we had an informal meeting led by Mr B (EduCARE India’s Chief Project Director) with seven of our project managers by his side and seventeen members of the Shanney community (each family was represented by at least one person) to discuss what measures we can take together to help them improve their quality of life. Representatives from different generations of life in Shanney were present and they all expressed their intent to continue living there long into the future. For them to stay there in good health habits need to change, education needs to be improved and infrastructural systems need to be developed.
Before we revealed our own agenda with regards to areas that we think they need help with, we wanted to know what issues they felt needed addressing and what it is that they thought they as a community could do to make improvements. One by one they were asked the same question and they all replied with the same answer. That solid waste is a major issue, plastics and paper litter the surrounding area and the only infrastructure that they have is a few bins for paper and plastics which EduCARE had previously placed in their community and have been collecting. Initially these bins raised awareness to the practise of separating waste, but now they are ready for an upgrade.
alex-bobby-monica-swash-educare-india-internThey all suggested and agreed that they are responsible to do a mass clean up of the surrounding area which we have volunteered to organise for them on the first day of the following month. From this idea a new community based initiative was developed. On the first day of each new month we shall organise a community based activity that directly addresses important issues that the people in Shanney face.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the fact that waste which litters the valley is so obvious to the eye; this was the only issue that the meetings participants were comfortable enough to mention. This demonstrates either a lack of awareness to the conditions that affect their lives or a lack of confidence to speak up about problems that are not so evident. Either way, it is clear to see that we have a lot of work in front of us.
Following up on the community’s primary concern, is the first item on our agenda; solid waste management. A newly developed solid waste management system has been implemented in the EduCARE staff houses. Although it is not a perfect solution to the waste management problems that people face in rural India, it has been designed in such a way that the foundations of the system should be relatively easy to replicate within the community. Waste can be separated into 4 main categories then brought by volunteering member of the community to our waste storage facility where it is collected and repurposed or sent away for recycling. For example; soft plastics can collected for making Ubuntu-blox (google this if you don’t know this simple but ingenious way of dealing with the plastics problem in the developing world); plastic water bottles are being collected to make a greenhouse; paper can be recycled by the community or turned into burnable briquettes producing energy and lowering the dependency on gas; fabrics can be reused to make clothing for the ReStore (ReStore is an empowerment program which we run where local women make clothes and crafts that they sell in a shop which EduCARE runs)…
alex-moran-ireland-intern-educare-indiaThese solid waste management initiatives are for us to teach the people from Shanney how to implement and operate, not for us to do everything for them. We help with the initial development of a system, but eventually they will take over. We want them to learn that they control their surrounding environment and that the less waste that they produce the better and that whatever waste is produced can become a useful resource. Very little “rubbish” is actually dirty!
Next up on our agenda is their water supply. Poor infrastructural development has left many leaks along the waters’ pipelines as well as the rampant dumping of waste around the water sources and the leaks have left the water contaminated. Although we are not exactly sure to what extent it is affected, we are certain that water-borne parasites are prevalent, causing many illnesses in the area. A laboratory is being set up for the purpose of testing the water, but this will take some time. In the interim, other solutions must be found. A simple provision would be to boil the water before drinking it and using a water filter, the hard part is getting people into the habit of using these precautions and for them to truly understand why it is they are taking them.
The third issue we addressed is our initiative to raise awareness on health issues. Little education is given with respect to health related practises which we in the developed world take for granted. For example; drinking dirty water or having an indoor fireplace with no ventilation. To counteract this void in learning, we are developing a health centre where the community can learn about the factors that affect their basic health such as; good / bad nutritional practises, basic first aid, causes of respiratory problems, causes of illness such as dirty water, sanitation and hygiene…
There are no local doctors in Naddi and only when someone is very ill do they undertake the forty minute journey down the mountain to the hospital. We hope to be able to arrange having a doctor come to our soon to be developed health centre once a week; to provide basic medical care for relatively easily treated illnesses, which if left ignored might become dangerous.
We then moved on to discuss “the clay oven project”. The houses in the community have open fires in the kitchen, but they do not have any form of chimney to ventilate the smoke. All of EduCARE’s staff spend their initial two week induction period staying with certain families in the community which take part in our “homestay” project (similar to a guest house). One of the negative aspects that is always mentioned by the new interns is the problem with smoke inhalation caused by the open fire in the kitchen. We notice this immediately but the families either aren’t aware of the hazard to their health or feel like there is nothing they can do about it. They have learned to live a certain way and for them it is ok, but they seem oblivious to the massively detrimental effects this is having on their health. To combat this, a model for a very cheaply made clay oven and chimney has been developed. Our hope is to eventually have one of these in every house, but it is up to the potential recipients of the oven to help us make them.
bobby-swash-volunteerThere are no ovens in Naddi, hence there is no bakery. The clay oven project also provides an opportunity for business, whereby fresh baked goods can be sold in the Restore shop providing a supplement to a household’s income and fresh bread to a village (this will please many who work at EduCARE).
As an eco-friendly organisation, trees were always going to be mentioned in our meeting. Deforestation is one of the biggest problems that the earth faces. Many of us know that the main effects of this are reductions of global oxygen production and massive losses in wildlife habitats culminating in mass extinctions of species.
These effects are also prominent in Naddi, but there is another pressing issue that the people of Shanney face. The community is built on the steep valley leading down to the river where they experience large snowfalls in the winter and heavy monsoon rains in the summer. The stability of the soil that rests above them is in jeopardy because there are no more trees to keep it in place. The possibility of a landslide will someday become very real. These missing trees should also act as natural groundwater filtering system for the water that flows down to the river which feeds the villages below us. Instead it flows through dumped solid waste, contaminating the water source that supplies neighbouring villages.
We already have projects underway in which we are working with the community and have created a tree nursery. Many of the trees have been planted by the children of Shanney and the life giving favour will eventually be returned when the trees bear fruit for them and their new children whilst keeping the soil above their houses intact.
These ideas are not quick and easy solutions to immediate problems. They require time, patience, persistence and optimism. We want to change the way that people view the world, their place in it and the control they have over it. It is our hope that we can learn from these projects and eventually develop replicable solutions to common but important problems that people face across rural India. When the meeting in Shanney finishes, without anyone mentioning these last points on what it will take to achieve our goals, it feels as if the people of the community understand the problems that lie ahead of them and that they are looking forward to engaging with us as much as we are with them.
Alex Moran, Ireland
SWASH Project Manager

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Rajasthan projects


Our Rajasthan cluster projects are in the Bikaner arid desert region focusing on community empowerment, education and environment conservation leading to sustainable development.


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Solar energy collector project bearing first fruit


solar-conllectorTime flies, six months have passed very quickly and now I find myself at the end of my stay in India.

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

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Caryn’s Gap Year experience


Caryn's gap yearI 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 –

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Educating Girls about Girls’ Education


When the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai for going to school last year, the world was finally forced to pay attention to the girls’ education crisis. Globally, 66 million girls don’t attend primary school. And the reasons they stay home invariably relate to gender and socio-economic disparities, like high tuition fees, lack of safe transportation, and housework responsibilities. Documentaries like Girl Rising and Half the Sky have further brought global gender inequality into people’s living rooms. But what do girls, especially those who live in areas affected by these issues, think of the crisis?

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.

naddigcSchoolGirlsGC naddigcGirlsListeningGC - Copie

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.

naddigcNishaPosterGC - Copie

Tricia Taormina, United States of America

ECRC and Girls Club Project Manager

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Biomass for Power


Recently, the interns involved in the Biogas Workshop held in Himachal Pradesh were treated to an extra day of field visits related to renewable energy in Punjab. The biomass plant visit was among the many highlights of this extended workshop.

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:

  • Alternative to burning biomass in fields, causing air pollution
  • Saves habitat and ground cover
  • Produces renewable energy – 2 KG biomass = 1 KW energy
  • Gives extra income to farmers – 1 rupee = KG of hay or biomass

Biogas Plant Process:

  1. Farmers sell biomass waste to the plant
  2. Biomass is dried and compacted
  3. Compacted biomass is loaded onto the belt, leading to the furnace (see Photo 2)
  4. Biomass is used as fuel in boiler, reaching temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius
  5. Boiler heats 30 tons of water each hour (of which 2 tons evaporates, 28 tons reused)
  6. The boiling water creates steam
  7. Steam runs the turbine at 7500 revolutions per minute (RPM)
  8. Turbine produces electricity/power by running the generator


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

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Making Healthy Choices !


rhc-healthy choicesLast 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.

Betsy Hinchey
United States of America
Rural HealthCARE Project Manager

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Migrants’ Children Education Program


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.

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Rural sanitation and waste management


waste managementThe 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).

waste2Waste 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”.


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Quote for the Month

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.” - - - Albert Einstein