Dear donors and supporters,
Hello from Kerala! Our leadership team has spent the last two months here on the field getting ready to start rainwater tank construction for a new village community, “Edayazham”. In this very special update, you’ll learn about our work so far and the exciting things to come! Read on to discover our continuing story from the first hand experiences of our leaders.
In the Field
Our team is staying in a rural part of the Allepey district, and beautiful rice paddy fields and canals surround us. The location is opportune because we are able to observe and live first-hand the customs and routines Kuttanad villagers carry out daily, which will be helpful when molding our operations to fit the lifestyles of our beneficiaries. Our office is only a quick bus ride away, where we have our own workspace alongside our on-site Program Manager. Here’s a snapshot of our day, in the words of our Vice President:
“I make my way from my room through the village, down a mud path, along the river edge, and towards the bus stop that will send me to the office. The banks of the water are sprinkled with many colorful houses, where cows, goats, and chickens can be seen obediently munching away at scraps. Mud paths lead down the heavy vegetation on the roadside and into village communities—cottages built on lonely islands among the green sea of rice paddies. The river is a constant presence, where residents bathe, do their dishes, wash their clothing, and take boat taxis from place to place. However, trash can also be seen floating in the midst of people, and pipes leak contaminants constantly.
Early in the mornings, music can be heard from village homes, as their residents prepare their morning breakfast of dosa and sambar. The water they’ve used for these preparations was hauled by the women of the households from public taps on the main road, or wells in their backyards. Though, they are always sure to boil it thoroughly before consuming: they’ve been taught that fecal matter and salt leeching causes their frequently experienced diarrhea and vomiting.
After my walk, I arrive at the stop along the road where I latch on to the overflowing bus until reaching my destination 15 minutes later. The main road stretches in a forever distance alongside the river. Once at the office, I work online if there is internet available. Though, more often than not, I’ll switch to offline based tasks like image branding and program documentation if the rains have cut off power. I work alongside my partner Sam, our employee Jibin, and an office assistant, Sibi (who brings us delicious tea about 5 times a day!). Under the wooden ceiling and bright pink walls, we chat about strategy, solve challenges, and plan for the future from 10 am until 5 pm.”
After yearlong negotiations, changes, and presentations, we have secured an implementation partner on the ground to get up and running. As a US-based organization, R4H sought local support and expertise to implement the program with the advantages of community knowledge. Our partnership with a local NGO, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation was signed into effect this July 2014, enabling R4H to gear up on plans for construction and impact monitoring. Check out pictures of this significant event attached to this report.
Construction of the first 12 tanks was planned for August. However, it was delayed due to heavy monsoon rains, which flooded many parts of the Kuttanad for over 2 weeks. Now, we are set to start in September, ensuring 24 families their own safe water supply! In preparation, we are developing a monitoring system with which to track many aspects of the program, including social impact, tanks, and user group dynamics. This will be valuable data to improve our program and paint a better picture of our work on the field.
Additionally, we are excited to focus on more community trainings and capacity building. We are developing training programs to educate users on tank construction, use, maintenance, and repair. This will enable beneficiaries to better manage their tanks and to take direct ownership of a long-lasting system. Masons and staff will assist community residents, women in particular, to learn skills will make them employable in construction work. Additionally, these trainings will provide opportunities to educate the community further on water consumption and conservation.
Thanks from All of Us!
During the partner matching day in July 16th at Global Giving, R4H launched a fundraising campaign in celebration of our new partnership on the ground. Thanks to all of YOU, the event was shared with people from coast to coast, publicizing our efforts and gaining our almost $3,000! Our website got a great new makeover for this event, so browse through for lots of updated information and pictures.
Thanks so much! Your contributions, support, and publicity will help us build an additional 2 tanks for 4 families this October! Your help has made a tremendous difference in the lives of rural villagers here in Kerala by providing a clean and consistent source of water for Kuttanad families.
Monsoon rain along river
Rice paddy workers
Office work (VP & President)
Team (Jibin, Dani, Sam)
MOU signed with ED MSSRF