At last the monsoon is breaking and we get time during the day to work on the land. Everyone helps weed and mulch. The turmeric is particularly spectacular with its delightful flowers.
August is the month for planting trees when the ground is soaked and the monsoon will continue long enough to keep them well watered. This year Nishtha bought 15 trees from an aryuvedic nursery, selecting them carefully that they will grow at the altitude of our farm and provide useful products for medicinal use. They include neem, citrus fruits, ampla, harad, behra and arampali mango.
Nishtha Clean Green team successfully used an amazing new hydraulic plastic block making machine created specifically for us by Steven Archer and Les Brunton in Duxford, England and shipped with the kind help of Laggar Industries. With it we compress waste non-recyclable plastic into blocks which are used for building, particularly as wall or land fillers with huge insulation properties. We are very grateful for the effort and creativity that went into the creation of this new machine!
Nishtha after school program on 14th August was dedicated to Indian Independence day. The kids made beautiful tri colour flags which they used the following day in the beautiful Independence day ceremony held at their school.
Nishtha afternoon monsoon kids programme presents an exciting variety of activities attracting increasing numbers of kids each day. Simon conducts science experiments and art and craft sessions and storytelling are organised by Puja Anand. At last more girls are coming since we have tried to talk to their mothers to let them off their home duties.
Nishtha with Bharat Opticals from Dharamsala completed a series of 4 eye camps at Rakkar school during which they carefully checked 188 students. Nishtha has sponsored the provision of glasses to all 66 students were found to require glasses who were very excited to have glass so they can see better in class. We will conduct regular follow up sessions to make sure they are using and taking care of them.
120 single women participated in a rally organised by the Nishtha team of activists to celebrate International Widow’s Day. They marched through the town to the District Commissioner’s office where they present their demand for Pachayat level ajudication and clarity about the definition of the term ‘single women’.
The children are back on the ground learning to ride bicycles! Nishtha cycle program for government school students was restarted after fixing the 7 bikes and buying helmets. 15 Boys and 5 Girls wobble or speed around the school ground with the help of the Nishtha activists who offer them useful instruction!
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.