20 June, 2015
Exhausted from the previous day’s journey and ongoing activities we woke up to our very first rain shower. Everything seemed to be new. With excitement we began our day with breakfast at our respective homes. Eating heartily, we interacted with the owners of our homes, getting to know them better. Saying goodbye for a short while, we moved on to climbing the steep hills of Ranikhet.
Reaching Umang, we had a presentation on forest, water and livelihood giving more emphasis on biogas plant and infiltration wells. We learnt how infiltration wells are used for recharging groundwater and at times for water extraction. These wells are present in large numbers in the area. Biogas plants are also planted in some houses which reduces the pressure on firewood and decreases health hazards. This information amazed us!
For most of us, the names Grassroots organisation and Umang were heard for the first time. We learnt about how women of the villages came together forming an association independently supporting their families, which came to be known as Umang. After a vigorous interactive session with Mrs. Sunita, we looked forward to the yummy lunch awaiting us at our homes. And yes, my stomach was not disappointed! Having conversation with Mrs. Adhikari (house owner) and their three small children, with every minute, all of us were getting closer to each other. The next activity of the day was field visit to Majoli Gaon where we saw “Naula”, a bauli with groundwater. We were also told about how a newly married couple visits the “Naula”praying for water for themselves and their coming generations. Walking for some time, we reached a nursery which had a small polyhouse. Munni Behen, the landowner of the nursery showed us around and told us how the villagers raised livestock of native species and are planting indigenous trees. To our astonishment, we looked up to find hundreds of beetles eating up the leaves of the tree above us. The journey back to the bus was thrilling with Bharti, Sayari, Rohan and myself sitting on top of the car smiling and waving to all the on lookers, with them mimicking our action. The best part of the day was the ride to Ranikhet Mall Road where all of us ate every kind of junk we were craving for!
– Srishti Manna