In the plains of Punjab, agriculture is one of the primary sources of income, with lush green and fertile lands to grow crops. In the village houses are normally made from bricks, have several bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, a patio area and an open front or back yard covered by a boundary wall. Some of these households have bath and washrooms, whereas others do not and wash from the water-pump in the patio. Many of these houses have running water and electricity, although shortages and power-cuts are common. Facilities in the village are limited to a few basic corner-shops and some simple fast food. Recreational activities are incredibly limited, if not non-existent in smaller villages but people typically spend their time chatting over chai, or children will play cricket outside or engage in a football match. Some families from poor and drier areas of India migrate to rural Punjab in search of better farming and living conditions. By contrast, these marginalized families tend to live on the outskirts of villages or in the open space of farmlands on the roadsides in basic huts made from thatched material of dried bamboo, grass and plastic sheets.
In the Punjab cluster with work with both types of communities focused in 2 main areas: Paro migrant camp and Dholbaha Mansa Devi community. The migrant camp originates from Rajasthan and lives in tent housing on the skirts of the main community. The Mansa Devi community also works with some migrant families but many of the people live in cement homes and work in the Dholbaha village. Projects in both villages work on a range of topics. Women’s Empowerment Projects engage the young women and girls in microfinance projects such as sewing or running a chicken coop, practicing English, making crafts, and engaging in discussions. Projects focusing mostly on children involve the After School Program, Fun Club and Girls Club, in which children learn and play with each other in alternative educational games and activities. We work with the community on a range of environmental projects such as farming, clean water, waste management, sanitation and hygiene. We try to understand and improve their health status by conducting health education, nutrition and sanitation workshops. Projects in Punjab are conducted in a rural setting, sometimes with the limited use of English and outside resources, but the community relationship is very strong and engaged.
Throughout July – August 2015, our Harike centre opened, close to Amritsar. Harike lake is the largest wetlands in northern India and home to the critically endangered Indus river dolphin and river otter. This makes Harike one of the most important Wild Life Sanctuaries in India. Situated on the confluence of the river Beas and Sutlez at the Ferozepur and Amritsar border the sanctuary encompass an area of approximately 86 sq km. The major problems facing the Sanctuary are encroachments on the wetland habitat, widespread infestation of water hyacinth weed, drainage of untreated and toxic industrial effluents into the system from big cities like Ludhiana , Jalandhar and Kapurthala, illegal fishing and poaching of birds.