Nishtha’s Students sponsorship program has been running since 2012. Every year at the end of their session the students like to go on an outing together. Usually this is a simple one or two day programme, but this year with the help of Exodus Adventure Travel we were able to go on a much more exciting trip up into the mountains to a valley called Barot. This place fulfills our hopes for somewhere quiet and remote yet with places of interest to see and learn about. On 15th April, 15 members including Madam Puja our English Teacher and Vijay Kumar as a senior member and care taker of group drove the 111 km distance along windy mountain roads singling and playing games such as we used to in our childhood all the way and enjoying the views of the mountains, still covered in snow and the valley rich with growing wheat.
Rather than camping we stayed in Heera Lal Guest house where the rooms are very neat and tidy and the food was delicious. In the evening, we visited Joginder Nagar Hydro Power project called Shanan power house which was the first major hydro electric power station in India. The following day we hiked 16 km to Bara Gawn passing many potato fields – Barot is also famous for its special quality potato which are prized as seeds in the lower areas. After a lunch time snack the boys walked a further 8 km up onto the ridge while the girls came back to the valley by road. It was an amazing day experiencing nature, the mountains, old wood houses, potato fields, deep valleys, devdhar trees, blossoms and beautiful waterfalls. In the evening we all danced and sang til we fell asleep. The following morning after a delicious breakfast of potato prantha, we set off home arriving tired but very happy and refreshed.
We would all like to say a very special thank you to the Nishtha donors and Exodus travel who made such a trip possible for us.
The Nishtha staff were very happy to participate in a short yoga workshop taught by old friends Sandra and Michal. They also taught a special meditation to watch and control our breath which was very helpful to us.
This year because the staff were keen to visit a renowned temple called Kathgarh temple near Indoor which is at quite a low altitude so gets hot, we decided to hold the picnic in March this year. The party of over 35 people set off in a bus and travelled for over 3 hours to get there. This temple is famous for its huge split Lingam which moves according to the weather. A large ornate mandir has been built near the ancient tree and shrine. The temple has beautiful gardens and provides a daily free lunch which we all enjoyed. On our way back we enjoyed visiting the Fort at Nurpur where there is a beautiful black Krishna. We sat on the grass and shared our fruit with the monkeys before heading home.
Tutored by Nishtha Trustee Puja Anand, Nishtha Students gave a wonderful performance of English skits and poems followed by the local Gaddi dance in full costume. The audience included an Exodus Travel group of visitors who were highly impressed with the students and are keen to help support them in their studies.
Concerned about a number of Rakkar school children who are not doing well in their studies, Nishtha organized eye check ups by three opticians from Bharat Optical, Dharamsala. They came and held a camp in our Community Center during which 32 children were carefully checked and of these 15 were recommended to have spectacles.
The local kids are delighted that the playground spaceship climbing frame has been restored! It was created from old tyres by Austrian civil servant Gaban last year – congratulations and thanks to everyone!
Simon, our latest Austrian Civil Servant, after three months working on Nishtha’s organic farm, reflects that organic agriculture is not just about cutting out the use of inorganic chemicals but entails nourishing the earth from which plants take their nutrients. Only if a complex and fine network of invisible helpers in the soil: fungal strands which attach to the plant’s roots to trade for sugars, bacterial communities, which graze for minerals and a huge variety of predatory microbes that keep the system in check is the earth truly ‘alive’ and becomes a truly organic organism.
At Nishtha we are working to cultivate compost rich in these nutrients and microbial life. During recent months we have built more than 100 raised beds and planted a diverse mixture of vegetables and trees. Simon says: “Learning about nature, experiencing as well as developing its beautiful relationships, is making volunteering for this Organisation worthwhile.”
In order to further our Completely Clean Rakkar Campaign and support our tireless workers in their task, Nishtha has put up these bright new posters asking our villagers and visitors not to burn plastic, to segregate waste and to clean without shame. The artwork was done by our Tibetan volunteer Chokey and the slogans were created by the Nishtha staff.
This week our team went to the remote Village of Harnera in Sharpur block. The health education camp was organized by our oldest activist Gyni Devi and our newest activist Ranjana. It was attended by 37 women, both young and old and several with small babies. As usual Dr Kusum led a lively an informative discussion group particularly focusing on female reproduction, joint pains and hypertension. Several women had their blood pressure checked and all received useful information how to ease their pain and stay well using local herbal treatments and exercise.
Suresh is responsible for maintaining the water filters Nishtha has installed in our three local government schools. Every week they have to be cleaned and checked and twice a year we change the filters and replace any other parts that are worn or damaged. In this way we are ensuring clean drinking water for not only the school children but also the local families who have access to this water.