Monday, 19 October 2015

Going through some of the WaterAid India photos.

How amazing an experience it was..... and these pictures remind me of some of the fantastic people I met and talked to..... this experience will be with me until the day I die. I have been inspired by many. Thank you WaterAid.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Debrief..... water for all!

Off to London right now to plan how to deliver all the experience to public and how to best show how our money goes to this amazing cause. From the Elan Valley to India and back home to the hills in time for lambing.  Thank you for all those who have helped the Rangers raise money for WaterAid. ... Thank you Dwr Cymru Welsh Water customers for raising 4 million over the last 8 years. ..... all this money has made such a difference to peoples lives and built communities. ... you all make me proud.....

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

WaterAid and Wildflower Meadows

Had a brilliant  talk last night on the amazing Wildflower meadows of the Elan Valley. Over 50 attended from the Builth Wells gardening club. A donation was made to WaterAid and it was an exceptionally good night. Thank you!

Welcome home to the Elan Valley

Arrived home - the dogs (all 8 of them) happily ran towards the car as I arrived up the bumpy track to home, their greeting obvious in the wag of their tails. My three important persons were silhouetted in the homely glow at the doorstep. I waded through dogs and rushed up the path and had to halt for a second as the party popper pulling session commenced. Then it was scooping up of delightful children and hugging wonderful husband. Who had looked after farm and family in my absence and therefore in my view adding to his contribution to WaterAid.

The garland over the Rayburn made by the kids!
A banner of paper hearts was strung across the mantle and I was handed cards and pictures plenty. On the table lay a feast of moon cake, Swiss roll, chocolate muffins, ringed biscuits, jelly, ham sandwiches and iced digestive biscuits. With a bunch of daffodils taking center stage on the table.

then I followed a small treasure hunt  of hearts through the house. ...... including a poem from my 8 year old son..........

I followed some clues up the stairs and found my treasure box (ice cream tub). Filled with my bangle, a pill box (found on a rubbish skip), and a white teddy with I love you embroidered across its breast (found in the air ambulance shop). Then there were lots of cuddles before bed, a quick party with musical dancing statues and all rest. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Return to the cold!

Back to the UK after 9 hour flight and small delay. Here I am sitting and waiting for my natioanl Express coach. My pew is an aluminium bench in the 1 degree temperature and my bottom is numb (my nanny would not be happy at this :-D). But i think i shall move in case i do end up with the piles she always predicts about when on cold places to perch. Back here in London Heathrow I have time to watch the world pass by. The bright glistening saris replaced by black jackets, black matching hand luggage and drabness. I miss the flowing silks, sequins , turbans and bustle. stares of curiosity have been replaced by indifference. I was going to mention the wonderful aroma of my josticks emanating from my bag as a comfort, however alas two seats away a gent in blue jeans, brown shoes and holding onto matching black luggage has lit up a cigarette.

Not long onto coach to remember how beautiful and green Wales really is.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Elan Valley Ranger has Tears for the children - in the slums

I went into the slum known as Shiv Nagar.....  I really was well prepared for the shanties and the litter and dirty small children running around. I felt strong that I could cope. A life of farming and surveying wildlife ensures that I am used to mucky situations and studying wildlife droppings is a part of my area in mammal recording. I saw the site a barren flat waste ground strewn with litter with boar and dogs scavenging the grounds. We were taken to the home of  Sakun Soni......... who was in his 60s and his wife ...Ramesh in her 50s their 16 -18 year old daughter Rajani (in some places the ages are not known especially if surviving day by day) ... was there also getting ready for school, once she had collected water from the tap outside.  Which is only on for 2 hours a day so the days water needs to be collected.

Sakun had a bandage tied around his head and seemed a little frail.  I looked into his milky coloured eyes ...... and felt the cost of his suffering.  He had brought up 4 children 3 daughters and a son.  They lost one young daughter to a water borne disease also years before. 2 daughters have been married.  The son works in a flour mill which is contract work unusual in the slum as most employment is usually a daily struggle.

It turned out that three days before our visit the electricity had gone off and Sakun had fallen in the dark and woke in a pool of blood and had managed to get some help from someone nearby who got him to the hospital.

We discussed many more issues and then I was outside and asked what was "I feeling in the slums". I tried to talk but I could feel the emotion rising within me and the tears flowed from my eyes. I couldn't get away the glimpse at a small boy no older than 4 (just a bit younger than my daughter) squatting down in the wasteland of litter and human excrement surrounded by foraging boar and dogs. I knew many children had been bitten by snakes and died and children and women were prayed upon by men. The lack of privacy,  dignity and safety was hitting me hard here.  And after spending the day with the school yesterday I was reminded of the vulnerability of India's children.  I thank God I have seen the good work that WaterAid and partners are doing to make the future safer for them..

The other thing I learned today was just what the partnership organisations do with WaterAid as sitting with the staff in the house it was plane to see how much they were connected with the people and just much work had been done to get to this stage. They help the people to get access to their rights and they move the government to take responsibility. ....

Which reminds me that there were diggers present cleaning out the ditches of waste.  Word had got to the government department we were on site. ...the ditches are not cleaned as regular as should be! So at least in a small way our presence made a difference that day for the slum.

Afternoon at Arjun Nagar Slum

Welcomed by singing and drums x

This slum has 400 houses and has been in existence for 30 years (this morning there were 300 households and the slum was 40 years old), most residents are from scheduled caste and schedule tribes. And it was a relief after this morning to see how a community with the help of WaterAid and Partner Organisations could lift a community and have it motivated and working sustainability together. You will be pleased to hear that every household has a toilet now and there is even a road. Health has greatly improved and the children are safer indoor. It is at the moment the only open defecation free slum! And has been sustaining itself for 3 years. the government are looking now to build houses in place of the dwellings currently there.

Meeting the lovely Asha and her husband Shibai was a real honor and enlightening experience. they have a son and daughter who are both at school and they proudly showed us the trophy `s won by the son Rahul. they are proud of both their children and hope they will continue with their education. Now there is a toilet in the school it is more girl friendly and girls are continuing whereas before they dropped out around puberty.

the community has its own committee to which the householders pay 20 rupees a month for the maintenance and water quality checks of the water points and to improve the community overall such as plans to build a play park  hospital or community hall. People are free to dream and plan now , in fact this slum has a 5 year plan in place and even visits surrounding neighboring slums to share the fact that they too can be the same.
The community corporator was elected in the ward and is responsible for 6 slums (blue Sari), she really understands the issues and it was clearly visible the respect and love the people had for her. If there is a wedding or a birth she is always invited. The corporator we saw this morning in Shiv Nagar on reflection did not have this rapport and this may help to contribute to that feeling of despair.
Children are spending less time collecting money now so there is more time to study - and well just be children :-) Now that Asha has a toilet and it made us chuckle when she told us once she had a toilet she could go out and buy a telly. There was now status to her household.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Wanting change - the children show us how

Padli village school was our Thursday afternoon visit and it was so good to see that small children can really make a big difference to the implementation of change.  The village has 131 houses and the population is 950. Mainly dependent on agriculture.  Before intervention the sanitation situation was not very encouraging.

The school children played an important part in the drive for cleanliness.  They had morning rallies (which is the time most defecation occurs) having outdoor games at morning and even blowing whistles when seeing someone going to the toilet outside. With these children going home and campaigning for toilets in the home this was again raising the awareness. At school they were shown how to wash hands and keep clean.

There is almost 100% sanitation coverage with most houses having a toilet with only a few still being constructed.

Our welcome was lovely as always in India. We all received out mark on the forehead and a rose. A different child delivered to each supporter the rose and they told us about the committee they were on.

A group and the principal escorted us around the classrooms. The principal was so pleased that you can now open the windows as the smell was so bad it put the children off study and lunch. The children were so proud of the work that they had done and happily showed off pictures and posters. We studied the solar system and they told me pluto was no longer classed as a planet.  Studying the same as my little boy last term.

I took a moment to show them photos on my own phone of things they had drawn such as trees, livestock, rainbows and wildlife.  As well as the snow, sunsets and my family. The school has a conservation committee and they told me that they had planted trees around the school to make it nicer now the grounds were free from human waste we wouldn't be able to sit on the rugs we were welcomed onto the mess was that bad.
The kids played games after and there was much shaking hands thumbs up and photos on way back to minibus.  

A coconut,  a rose but my most memorable gift was when 13 year old Priyanka ( one of the girls who spent the afternoon with us)  asked if she could give just one kiss. I nodded  wide eyed and she planted a sweet kiss on my cheek on that bonds a memory for life. I held her little hand and muttered words of all sorts of thanks and well wishes. In my heart i was pushing a 1000 prayers that she would grow up happy and safe. One that the Samaratans, WaterAid and the community have already proceeded to create. Work to ensure this little girl and her friends have the simple possibility to study safely and healthy.  I think I may plant a tree at home to watch grow and flourish just like this community.