Case Western, Case Western Reserve University, culture, Deendayal Research Institute, DRI, India, Nandita Pathak, programs, projects, Rural India, rural villages, solo travel, student, travel, Water Conservation
In the morning, my roommate and I brought our things to breakfast, ate with the group, and quickly left for good. Ever since we arrived in Chitrakoot, we had our own personal caravan of white minivans that drove us everywhere we went. They escorted us all day today as well. Today, we first went to the Entrepreneurship Development Training Centre to give feedback to DRI on their projects and to snack and say goodbye to the speaker, etc.
Me and the speaker Nandita Pathak who is often invited to even UN events to speak.
When we arrived, we were stopped outside of the gates and escorted inside by men with large parasols, a crowd, musicians, and flag bearers. We were presented with bindis and orange cloth as we came inside. The people at DRI had clippings of our picture on the front page of four or more national newspapers in India.
We had to get going after awhile of giving feedback to the site. After our closing session at Udaymita Vidyapeeth, we departed for Majhgawan. The ride was about 30 miles of winding, swerving, potholed roads with cattle and people crisscrossing everywhere, cars dodging us in the opposite direction, etc. We even passed a large, overloaded tractor trailer that had rolled across the road and spilled its goods in a wreck at a sharp bend on a hillside. The area was rapidly becoming more and more remote and we wound through several villages full of awestruck people staring after the sight of us. I finally saw a cow carcass in a field and a cow that had been hit on the road. We were told villagers would chase down a driver who kills a cow and beat him. Someone later reported having seen a tiger.
WATERSHED MANAGEMENT/AGRICULTURE FARM SCIENCE CENTER MAJHGAWAN
When we had finally arrived, we sat through a presentation on the agricultural and water conservations efforts made by various sustainable techniques through self-sustaining projects in the rural regions where we were (Satna region in central India). The project grows organic foods and also has cows with a manure/compost process. The research closely monitors productivity and has seen a significant increase in milk production, etc., while practicing sustainable and natural efforts to yield crops. The water conservation has also significantly improved the region for irrigation. We were given lunch after the presentation and then escorted to the next project, just down the road.
TRIBAL GIRLS RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL (KDBBAV)
This project is a tiny boarding school that hosts about one girl from several tribes across the region. These girls are hand-selected to be educated and trained as a model for others in their villages to follow after the successful completion of their schooling. What was amazing was, when we met some of these girls, they told us what they wanted to be and why: teachers, because they want to teach children like themselves; social workers, because they want to help people like their own; and doctors, because they want to improve the living conditions of their people. Not once did anyone want money, profit, fame, etc. They were shy children, but they were goodhearted.
After touring the campus a little (meant for girls in grades 1-8), we departed for Khajuraho. The ride took about three hours of the same windiness as before. We did get a break at one point when we stopped in a village and got out to see across the barren landscape where there was a conserved waterhole with buffalo drinking. The village people greeted us, including the head of the project who lived where we pulled off. The children were fascinated by us foreigners, and, although people tend to stare and seem scary and unwelcoming, all it takes is a slight bow, clasp of the hands, “Namaste”, or even simply a smile and the people lighten up immediately, smiling and returning the favor so pleasantly. I have yet to meet an unwelcoming Indian. We were sad to go, but soon the people followed us to our caravan and we disappeared to our Clarks Group hotel for the night in Khajuraho. We ate dinner, but it wasn’t the same as that done by our personal chef in Chitrakoot. I swam briefly, met with some of the others for awhile at the bar where we tried different local drinks, then we went to bed to prepare for an early morning the next day.