Corporate Social Responsibility · Volunteering · Volunteering in India · Impact Volunteering · skill-based volunteering · Citizenship

Red chillies, road & water …

Red chillies, road & water – the three just connect my recent experience on a rural visit.

On 9th April, I found myself on the road from Hyderabad to Kavurivari Palem (KV Palem for easy reference) – an obscure village in the hinterlands of Andhra Pradesh. This photoblog is to capture and share my 2 day experience before the memory gets overwhelmed with the cacophony of work and life in Mumbai.

Red chillies – the sight that first greets you. Mostly exported, this variety of chillies called Guntur chillies, this is the primary agricultural produce here along with cotton, chana dal and tobacco.

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Drying chillies in the foreground & a Virginia tobacco drying brick barn in the background
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A trolley load of sacks of chillies + men & women riding astride

Women of different households team together to form DWCRA groups (Development of Women & Children in Rural Areas – a government scheme) that undertake the preliminary processing of tobacco before its picked up by agents of tobacco companies.

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Women from the local DWCRA group – Interestingly, the incidence of tobacco use is lower than average in this village

Road connectivity, is primarily what the village folk need so that their children can get good schooling. Families have shifted base to other villages or town with better education prospects. In this case, it resulted in the local primary school getting closed last year.

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What was till a year back a Primary school, had to be closed for the want of students
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In the neighbouring cluster where incomes are lower, the school continues to operate.
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Pivot of all discussions, for the men that is. Also the coolest point (literally) in the village thanks to its height and the fresh water pond behind. Telecom is not a problem and even 4G is accessible from this coolest point 🙂
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We engaged the village elders to get a map of the village. With the ‘chabootra’ at the coolest point as our canvas, men were quick to find a few ‘khari’ stones to scribble in absence of chalks
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After the village elders had neatly plotted the village, the younger lot (in their 30s’ in this village) were keen to extend the boundaries to include the roads that connect to the outside world. I also discovered the comforts of a ‘pancha’ in the soaring heat…

 

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The final outcome!

 

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Villagers & the world. Two sons of soil, extreme left & right, working with top technology firms choose to lend a hand in village development. Dr Prithvi, with the rock band looks, from Hyderabad, volunteered to help assess health awareness and also ended up running a little medical camp on the go

 

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An RMP physician visits the village regularly for check-ups and prescription. for more complications including child birth, families go outside the village

Water woes – families get jars of bottle from the filtration plant in the neighbouring village for consumption. The agricultural fields need a much larger input and therefore farmers have to be content with low yields and lessers crops each year.

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Surveying the fields for water and road connectivity. With a canal flowing closely one would expect that water wouldn’t be an issue. But it was. Interestingly, the administration is working to make Prakasam district a model for solar powered micro irrigation.
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Search for water to irrigate the fields continues. We were told that water table has risen in the area. Fortunately, a drilling undertaken after some 30 years bore fruit – ‘aka’ water while we were there. The ‘coolest point’ had a fresh buzz this evening.

So what did I return with – a feeling of being connected to a village & its people, a preliminary understanding of their needs that we’ll try to work for, and a small bag of red chillies – freshly dried.

If you want to explore an India that you do not understand yet, and a bit more about yourself in the process, then volunteering provides you several such journeys. And you do return with a lot more than just helping the underprivileged.

 

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