NEWS BULLETIN  D H A R A M P U R   &   K A P R A D A
[ June : July : August : 2017 ]


 ‘Open House’ for Dharampur by Kumla School
This year Kumla Skola tried out a new idea. Instead of calling it ‘Operation One Day Work’ [OODW] as Kumla organized every year since 1968 (!), this year they termed it as ‘Open House’ or a ‘Festival’. First of all they wanted the whole school to take part in it. 13-16 years old did earlier years the biggest job as they went out in the society to find work for the DAY [For Dharampur]. The school also organized ‘Flee Market’ [selling second – hand goods], bakery, sawing, wood - work etc. in which some of the pupils joined. The idea with the new system is basically to try and activate the pupils more before and during the very DAY. The teachers wanted to increase the sense of solidarity. They felt that many pupils had too little knowledge about the projects in Dharampur and the way kids are living in India and other countries. So they took many lessons before the festival to provide information and discuss issues with the pupils. The teachers didn´t want the pupils just to leave their money to the school, but also do their work with engagement and heart. I think that is very important.

During my time [Lisa was a teacher of Kumla earlier – she volunteered for the DAY] in Kumla we did try to get through both pupils heart and brain; but we often had the same feeling that some of the pupils - often the oldest ones -  were difficult to activate with real engagement. That is why this year the school decided to have an ‘Open House’ or a ‘Festival’ for the whole school (children from 6 years up to 16) in the afternoon and invite parents and siblings. Together they organized different shops to sell things they had done - drawings and so on, they had a flee market, some games to take part in - for example competition with jumping rabbits, selling food like hamburgers, making candies, theatre, some singing etc. etc.

 I was there to inform about the projects [as she had visited our schools], answering questions, showing photos, selling mangograms [drawing of mango tree – with an explanation] to support the ambitious mango plantation program. [It has crossed 150000 saplings now and is supported by Tuff since last 30 years - without a break]. It was very nice to meet a lot of interested people both kids and parents. I felt so close to Dharampur when I spoke about  activities going on there. The teachers in the ‘International Group’ are very dedicated. They want to keep on the tradition for the next year, as they have lot more experience now. The result seems to be about 37000 SEK [RS 300000 – first installment]. As a long vacation immediately followed the DAY, some reports are yet to come.
[From a letter of Lisa – Summarized] 

EDUCATION
Outstanding Performance of Ex – Students

One talented student who studied in one of our schools [1 to 10 grades] was sent to a special science school after he passed SSC [10th grade] for higher secondary [11th / 12th grades in Science Stream] - rather away from Dharampur. He did very well in the school. Then he was sent to one far away engineering college. He did well there as well. Now he is a tutor in an engineering diploma college, at a place 300 km away from Dharampur. We are proud of him. It is a record in our educational march. One such boy [ex – student] in a degree engineering college near Ahmedabad stood seventh in the whole of Gujarat State Technical University. It also is a commendable performance by any standard.

One of our ex - students who completed BSC [Graduation in Science] was supported by the project for his entire study in the University. He is now keen to go further for Masters in Science [M. Sc.]. This degree is a record for Dharampur County – where the first generation is taking University Education [since last decade]. It was hard to get admission in any Science College. He struggled for a week on his own to get and then hand over the University Document of admission to the college [closer to Dharampur] of his choice. He narrated the story how from his hilly - forest village he went to Surat University for 3 days and did not succeed on account of technical ‘on line’ faults. At the last minute he got the required document and provided the same to the Science College near Valsad. Most significant is that a tribal boy from a remote village did not give in. This confidence is real development - apart from the degree he obtained – which is not less important. Now he requires support for books which are rather costlier in science faculty. The project will gladly help for that as well. 

Training by Expets
A three day training camp by Shishav [Bhavnagar] was organised in Tamachhadi School. Three experts conducted the camp. Along with 70 upper primary students of Tamachhadi . 30 students of the same grades and their teachers [from rest of our schools] also attended the camp. The focus was teaching subjects like Social Science, Maths, General Science etc.  through creative activities, games video films etc.  The method of self – learning was applied effectively. The students were so involved. The group is visiting Dharampur again next month. This time they are moving in all our schools to know how the teachers teach subjects and also to guide them. Then a training camp of all the teachers will be held in Tamachhadi.
 
A Class : Subject : Adolescence
 An expert lady from Arch [Nagaria] conducted lessons over the subject for 11th – 12th grade students [45] in Girls’ Hostel – Bilpudi ánd for 8 - 9 - 10 grade students [60]  in Tamachhadi.  Very informative. Good response [sharing] of the girls as they were so keen to understand the complexities of adolescent  period – they are passing through. The teacher used videos and slides to show total human body and the functions of different organs to make the girls aware. very interesting and useful session.
Another expert form Arch is taking science lasses in two of our P. Schools in Tamachhadi & Vaghval every fortnight. Great opportunity for our students.
   
Free Text – Books to All
 
All the students got text – books free from the government. Some important text – books of few subjects for high schools were not available. Excellent support came from a district officer in the educational department as she arranged to supply them. Incidentally she was a student [35 years ago] of Koki in PTC College at Borakhadi. Coming from a very poor background,  she passed several University degrees on her own and special exams as well fixed for top officials of the government. She is now Assistant District Educational Officer fortunately of Valsad [Dharampur is part of Valsad]. Very satisfying for a teacher to see the progress of her past pupil.
 
          
                                                SUPPORT FROM INDIAN SCHOOLS & TRUSTS [NGOS]
From Shrimad Rajchandrashram of Dharampur
The Ashram fully finances both the primary and high school at Tamachhadi since last several years. The volunteers from the Ashram visit the school occasionally to help students to learn various subjects on innovative lines and to guide and help the school for practical needs. Their focus was on providing general knowledge. They brought with them interesting films – making learning joyful and effective. A well – equipped Mobile Van of the Ashram visits both Tamachhadi & Vaghval schools every fortnight. The students conduct experiments in Science and also get opportunity for learning the subject effectively. A great support indeed. Some equipments have been purchased this year to upgrade study of science.

From Raj Foundation of Bombay
Full financial support from Raj Foundation of Bombay is coming for both primary and high school of Vaghval for last several years. The Trustees of the Foundation take keen interest in progress of both the Schools. For that they visit Vaghval twice a year, make useful suggestions and provide help.  During their last visit they felt a need of a bicycle for the school. The same was transported by the Foundation to the school within a short period. We are highly grateful. As the buildings were constructed some 2.5 decades ago, they require major repairs. For that the planning is on.

From Maheswary Shikshan Sannsthan of Surat
A group of kind trustees from the Sannsthan [Trust Body] of Surat briefly visited Bilpudi to plan out extra coaching classes in Surat for our students who are in the tenth grade. They are to appear in SSC [Final exam for the high school] in 2018. This NGO did a wonderful job last year for 50 students of our two high schools. The school run by the Trust [mentioned above] made all the arrangements for their stay and food for 10 weeks. They employed skilled teachers – paying high salaries for intensive teaching, focusing on SSC exam. They provided special books – which otherwise the students could not afford. It was a grand success as 49 out of 50 students got through, with good marks. At the end of the training, all the students were given a special dress. Many of the students have joined Science Stream at Higher Secondary level [11th & 12th].  We are now planning for 85 students to stay in Surat School like last year and on the same pattern, during next December [2017] - January- February [2018].

​​​​​​​ The Sansthan [Trust] will collect the students from Bilpudi in school - buses and leave them back to Bilpudi in the buses of the school. The Trust will bear entire cost of the coaching classes, as before. 
Furthermore, the visitors offered to provide support for advance study of the students in science faculty for Higher Secondary [11th/12th] and University education. We sent a proposal of half a million rupees scholarship for 50 aspiring students and got the required support from the Trust - mentioned above. This in a way is like Sister School Cooperation followed by some Swedish schools - which played an important role in spreading education in this almost illiterate society, some 3 decades ago – when we made an entry in Dharampur Block.

From Sarvajanik Vidya Mandir School of Surat
A team of 70 teachers and Trustee Board members from the above - mentioned school of Surat visited Tamachhadi School. They brought special food with them for all the primary schools, 2 high schools & the Girls’ Hostel in Bilpudi [also visited]. It was grand lunch party with students and teachers of Tamachhadi School and Van Path directors. There was also a session with all 250 students. Inspiring talks by the trustees. They enjoyed the songs and specially the atmosphere. The school is set up on the river – bank, surrounded by hills and forest. Rest of our schools collected the food the same day. Great gesure by Surat school. Happy to mention that more and more schools and voluntary groups have started taking interest in Dharampur in last 5 years [see below one more case]. Food was a great fun for more than 600 inmates of our 7 hostels.

 Important Visitors
A group of 8 special visitors stayed in the Girls Hostel in Bilpudi and attended the evening prayer. They included tribal leaders of the state, a trustee of Gandhi Peace Foundation [based in Delhi] and an associate of world famous water - man Rajendrasinh Rana from Rajsthan State. We started our water – management [check - dams, soil – bunding – wells] program in Dharampur Block some 3 decades ago. The inspiration came from this Rajashan experiment. A team of our workers led by the director of Dharampur Project visited [before initiating our ambitious water management program] the work and discussed the issue with Mr Rana - the spirit behind water conservation movement in dry Rajasthan.  

Mango & Other New Species
Our flagship program of mango plantation is progressing well. During monsoon months 2900 mango saplings were distributed to the farmers at their doors at half the price – as is the set pattern. A large part of Dharampur & Kaprada is covered under the program in last two and a half decades, with marvelous support of Tuff - all these years. Our focus this time was Virekshetra – the farthest and poorest block. A new species named MAHAGONI has been introduced this year.  It is furniture tree [better than teak-wood] giving high returns. A plant priced 50 rupees per one was received by us at Rs 26, at the door – steps of the Girls’ Hostel in Bilpudi. The farmers [at Rs 10 per sapling] and some selected institutions [at Rs 20 per sapling] have been distributed 1000 Mahgoni plants – to start with. As this is a new species for this area, we want to go slow. First we want to evaluate the result before expanding it on a large scale. If succeeded, it could make strong impact on the economy of this poor block. We may replace mango plants with this new species, as so far 150000 plants have been distributed with very good results and the demand for mango plants is decreasing year after year. The most of Dharampur and Kaparada villages are now covered under mango tree plantation.

                                         Joy of Giving                                                                    
                                                         [From a reply to one of the founder members of Tuff]
Yes, we are quite active. But we have practically no health problems, while Ake has [?]. Of course, Monica is a very good support. I think if most of the aged and physically strong people do some meaningful work for others [outside the narrow family orbit and friends] - the less fortunate and disadvantaged; the world could be a better place to live in. Importantly, then the life provides some meaning - purpose. On the other hand, there are people who after retirement continue economic activity [not so many in Sweden] for personal and family benefits, which actually they don’t require.  We have to accept it as it is. We only can do whatever is possible for us. When we act positively outside our family orbit, we can remain cheerful, happy and healthy. By giving something to the society [others], in fact we are getting a lot in return – in a subtle way.  Now – a - days, it is termed: Joy of Giving.
[Summarised reply to Lehte]

NEWS IN BRIEF
·          A school named Ale Skolan [in Sweden] collected SEK  55 629 [A little over 400000 rupees] by organizing ‘Operation One Day Work’ {OODW] for one  school in Dharanmpur.
·          Chhayado NGO [Trust] has kindly continued providing quality snacks for all the students.
·           A kind donor has provided a pair of dresses to all the Primary & Hi. School students.
·          A meeting of Board of Trustees of Van Path was held last month. The performance of schools & other community development programs was reviewed. Also future planning for schools and other programs was discussed and finalized.
·          56 male – buffaloes have been given to 28 families at nominal price for transportation in cooperation with other NGOS.
·          Loan support was provided to a farmer to purchase an oil engine to save his crop.
·          A serious Kidney patient was provided help to buy costly medicines.]
                                 [June to August being monsoon months no water – management activity took place]
                                                                                                                                                   
-A letter from a teacher who visited Valod when Dharampur Project was being conceived around 1986
 Thank you for the most impressing and interesting news about your educational projects. Your work has definitely led to very special development in poor areas. Such long - lasting work as yours gives long - term result. You have managed to struggle for such a long time. Many teachers and pupils have been benefitted from your work. I will always remember the first time I 
came to Valod in 1986. We went out in the countryside around Valod to visit Balwadies [child centres for sugar – cane cutters kids ín their miserable slum-type make – shift  camps- rose to 65 finally when we were in the process of shifting to far away Dharampur]. We also visited Dharampur , where you discussed with some  persons [May be Mr. Manchhubhai and friends] there how to start schools. More than 30 years of hard successful work in cooperationof the local population. Impressive results! I do not know how to express my feelings. 
Thank you for keeping in contact and for giving hope to thousands of young people in your area and also in Sweden. This is a real example to the pupils at Allé skolan when they read the sentences Many little people in many little places will change the face of the world.
[Summary from a letter. Ale School mentioned above worked for Dharampur schools. They were motivated and supported by Helene – who wrote this letter. As she has mentioned, she was with us when the idea of Dharampur work was just being conceived. It ishisorical record of now jiant Dharampur Project Helene was a professor elsewhere, but her daughter was a student of Ale. Helene did visit Dharampur and carried the message of Sister-School. 

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[ Joint Bulletin of Van Path : Bilpudi & V.P.S.S. : Valod ]
 E - mail: bhikhuvyas@gmail.com
 [Mo. 9429885232]
 



NEWS BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA
[January - February - March - April - May : 2017]
   
                          CONGRATULATIONS & THANKS TO TUFF : SWEDEN - GOLDEN JUBILEE YEAR
 
Our team of V. P. S. S. from Valod & Dharampur convey the best wishes when Tuff is completing 50 fruitful years and celebrating the Golden Jubilee. V.P.S.S. has a strong bond of cooperation with Tuff. We feel proud for that. We have as well friendship with dozens of Swedes for nearly last 4 decades. Fondly but sadly enough I remember at this moment several devoted friends who have left this world. This occasion as well reminds me of my chance meeting [1979] in Bombay with Ake Sandin and Tuff delegation. That was the beginning of our relations. Rest is history. 
 
Let me thank Tuff for its committed efforts to provide wonderful opportunity from day one to the kids of our schools, hidden in deep forest and mountains - without a break. More than 10000 kids from underprivileged section of the society are benefited so far. Dozens from them who otherwise may not have seen the face of the school have got decent jobs after completing University education. About 1000 are doing petty jobs or are self - employed. A few are now better farmers after  finishing their studies. Some of them have joined like - minded NGOS, to serve the poor. 
 
’Operation Day Work’ [ODW] is a unique and highly successful concept of Tuff - with substantial results for Dharampur and many needy communities. To observe  OODW in action in Kumla [from where Tuff began its journey] is a memory of our life. The outcome of the DAY through work of the students from several schools provided education to hundreds of kids in this illiterate society, changing their life. On account of the impact of our schools and schools run by other Sister - NGOS, there are now government schools in each and every village. Since last 10 years about 400 past students have taken up different vocational courses, with the scholarship [initiated by Tuff] and later on provided by many well - wishers of the Project. After completing Gymnasium about 200 students have joined Engineering – Information Technology [IT] – Nursing - Social Studies -Teachers' Training & General Science. Some 10 past students have joined Dharampur Project as teachers and community workers. 
 
You may not be aware that this holistic project [2 major fronts : Education & Livelihood Opportunities] survived for the first 10 years of its life solely on Tuff [& Sida] support. Of course, help also followed from other sources for the rest of the years. But the first decade was so crucial, as we never entertained government aid. 
 
I cannot overlook deep [so emotional for some Tuff activities] involvement of Tuff in our ''Smile for a while'' Balwadies [Child Centers] program for the kids of under - privileged Koytas [sugarcane cutters] living around Valod amidst inhuman camps. The voice of one lady activist is as if ringing in my ears at the moment. While in a ship [for quiet planning from Sweden to Finland] she spoke out loudly - when she knew that we are shifting to far - off Dharampur area; ' Then what will happen to the kids of our Balwadies? ' I had to console her with a long explanation. Such was the concern for the poor and neglected. When finally we shifted [1987/88] to poorer and invisible Dharampur, I fondly recollect that Ake - Gunnar were witness to this turning point in our social work.  
 
Second nice program is mango plantation [Mangograms] in Dharampur. It proved such a grand success on account of the continuous support provided by many a Tuff members and other kind donors for the last two and a half decades, without a miss  At this juncture I will like to mention those 3 'Mango Girls' who worked so hard for mangograms [they even visited Dharampur to take a video] even after leaving the school. How can we forget an old lady [90]? She asked the friends and relatives not to send gifts on her birth - day; but instead send the corresponding money to Tuff, finally to reach us for 'Mango Program'. What a love! So far 144000 mango saplings have been distributed [at half price] to poor aboriginal families - making a wonderful impact on the economy in this vast area consisting of 180 villages and touching the life of over 100000 people. Tons of mangoes are grown, sold and consumed. 
 
With Tuff support we are privileged to visit Sweden so often. We enjoyed great hospitality of many families. I will like most humbly to thank them. I am 87 and my wife Koki is 79; so now there are no possibilities for us to revisit our beloved Sweden. But the memories of those exciting days are ever fresh in our hearts. The visit by about 100 [may be more] Swedes of our schools and development programs is a record in itself.      
 
Now there is great progress in the educational scenario – when we compare with the situation a little over 3 decades  back, when we first entered this dark zone. Some government schools were there, but hardly few students attended them and the teachers visited schools only casually. Now every child goes to school even in the remotest and farthest corner.  
 
Finally, let me congratulate Tuff and to be specific Swedish Sister Schools for making above - mentioned progress to happen. The MARCH is on and on. Fortunately we are still active - supported by a young cadre. Tuff support is there and will continue - we are sure. We foresee a bright future for this block which is now no more backward as before.  We wish Tuff many many returns of the day and success as ever, in its mission.
                                                       [Message of Good - Wishes sent to Ake & Lisa]
 
                                                 GOOD WISHES TO KUMLA FOR ITS OODW - OPEN HOUSE
 
I was pleased to learn from your former teacher Lisa that Kumla is going to have its 'Operation One Day Work' [OODW] on 8th of June. She also informed me that this year the OODW will take a new shape by arranging an 'Open House'. That means there will be lot of activities and sharing. Glad to hear that Lisa will remain present and show photos from the projects in Dharampur, followed by a debate. How nice if we could join the session! But now that is a far cry. Of course, mentally we will be present. Lisa has visited the schools and this area surrounded by mountains and deep forest. We keep in touch through mails - sharing happenings of the schools and other community development programs. As such, she could prove an ideal resource person. 
 
Looking to the past record of Kumla, am sure it will be a wonderful 'Open House'. I wish it a grand success. This reminds me of my [and my wife's] first visit of Kumla in 1984 and all the hectic activities conducted by the students during OODW. Kumla the pioneer of this wonderful scheme [OODW]. Kumla is one of our pet schools, which we have visited without fail, during our several trips of Sweden. The outcome [fund] of the 'Open House' will be used in one Primary School & attached Hostel. 
There is sea - change in both educational & economic scenario  - as ours is a holistic approach, touching 2 critical aspects of growth : Education & Economy [Livelihood]. Now there are government primary schools in all the villages. Since last 12 years about 350 of our past students have taken up different vocational courses and are self – employed or have got jobs. After completing Gymnasium about 100 students have joined various University Faculties Some 10 past students have joined Dharampur project as teachers or social workers. For the first decade of Dharampur Project, she [Sister Schools] was our only support. So the MARCH is on. We foresee a bright future for Dharampur kids and the community. We could never overlook the fact that we started working here with the help of several Swedish Sister Schools like Kumla, with coordination by Tuff. More support came from Indian Trusts & individuals by and by after the first decade of only Tuff support.   
                                                                               [Summary of a  message sent to Kumla School]
 
                                       Successes in Education and other Innovations

·   In last week of May the results of SSC [Final of High School] public exam taken by Govt were out. We run 2 High Schools. In Tamachhadi High School 43 out of 45 students have passed. In Vaghval High School 31 out of 34 students have passed. For this to happen, 50 students were given intensive coaching in one Surat School [See last Bulletin] and 30 got such an opportunity in a friendly school near Dharampur. Last month I was invited to a meeting in Surat School who conducted special classes [with hostel] for our students. There I expressed our pleasure. They are to support us next year also. In the meeting they were all praise for the discipline and hard work of our students. 
·  The SSC exam is held at a fixed center in Dharampur town. The real problem is where to lodge our 81 students for 13 long days. It was resolved with kind help of Shree Rajchandra Ashram of Dharampur. The students stayed there and was also provided nice food to them for all the days. 
·  We had to plead with the parents to send their kids to our high Schools a few years ago. Now all the students who have got through and their guardians want to go for Gymnasium [11th - 12th]. They are even prepared to contribute partially. Last week there was big rush in Bilpudi office for choosing the faculty. 
·  23 have opted for science stream and the rest are joining general stream. 
·  The girls of general stream will stay in our Hostel and go to near by Gymnasiums. 
·  For science students the Gymnasium has a hostel for boys. 
·  For the girls a new hostel has been started last year by one Forest Cooperative Society in a village close to the Gymnasium. They will stay there.
·  One student wants to join Sports Gymnasium [in 11th] at a distant place. Her old father joined her for consultation. VPSS will provide part  economic support.
·  One girl from Bilpudi Hostel has joined police training, additionally with her studies in Arts Faculty in the University.
·  One additional room has been constructed in Tamachhadi High School, looking to the expansion.
·  12 out of 13 girls of Bilpudi Hostel have passed in general stream of the Gymnasium with good percentage of marks. They are being guided for choosing  faculties in various Universities in Gujarat and outside the state. For example for Nursing they have to go to South India. The project not only gives them vocational guidance, but as well gives scholarships. The parents also contribute. The first batch of 5 will complete their graduation in next August.
·  A big school [all the way from Bombay] sent 50 benches for Dharampur schools. One school from Surat sent note books and utensils. 2 NGOS from Bombay also have sent note - books. Support is coming for dresses also. The new academic year is to start in the middle of June.
·  5 girls who finished 12th have done computer classes during long vacation period.
·  One innovative program is to start shortly, now that the long vacation is over. A group of experts is to join shortly Tamachhdi Primary School.They will provide broad education through life experiences and creative activities - more or less on self - learning line It is expected that some smart students of the school will visit surrounding government schools to follow the same pattern. Those schools will send selected students to Tamachhadi school to join the experiment. 
·  A training camp for our science teachers [by experts] was held in the high school at Vaghval. One more training camp for Science students also was held.
·  A friendly NGO shortly is starting a project for adolescent training. Tamachhadi high school has been selected.               
                                                         Dharampur Farmers in Himalayan Region
A group of 30 farmers [between 50/60 age] who have never traveled by train and have no possibility to have such an opportunity in life  had long distance trip for a week in Norhen india. They moved in special buses around river Ganges - close to Himalayas - visiting religious places & places of touristic interest. Our 2 senior workers were with them as some of the tourists did not understand Gujarati [our language] properly. Hindi [national language] is out of quetion. The selection was made from many aspirants after few meetings in Gitls' Hostel and around. This unusual idea was borne in the mind of one group from Surat interested in our work. They often visiting schools as well as other programs. One Surat Organization [NGO] organized and fully financed the trip. 
                                                              Soil & Water Management [W. M.]
 
Under the program 15 new wells [touching 300] have been constructed and soil - conservation program undertaken to reclaim waste land. This year it covered 13 more villages [spread in 100 villages so far] benefiting 428 families. So far about 10000 families have been covered bringing their waste land under cultivation These are all community - based programs, with their active participation and labor contribution. Of course, they got 50 % remuneration [ =] of total cost in form of food grains as well as material [cement etc.] for wells from the project. The total finance [a little over a million rupees] came from a Bombay Trust. They are supporting this program on the same scale since last 6 years. This generated about 6000 person -  days employment in respective villages. Total cost of both wells & W. M. program stands at 1.5 million rupees - considering the labor contribution of the beneficiaries. Approximately 25 acres of soil may be reclaimed.
 
                                                                              Research on Dharampur Project
[A] 
2 research projects are on A lady professor of English [from a university - 300 km away] and her ex - professor visited Bilpudi & Tamachhdi last week. The lady is periodically visiting Dharampur to teach English to our students. So she knows us pretty well. Her former professor [72] heard about our work from her. They decided to prepare a note about Dharampur. That is why they visited schools and took extensive interview of us. The subject : Development & Community's Empowerment. 
 
[B]
In another project one lady professor is doing her Ph.D. after finishing post - graduation in sociology. Her thesis is : Holistic Development in Rural Settings, spearheaded  by an NGO. She selected Dharampur for the field study. The exercise is on. 
 
 
My Feelings
 
Gandhian Inspiration
 
Gandhiji is still alive in the hearts of the trustees & teachers of the tribal schools in Dharampur. Significant effort is going on through several NGOs & individuals to improve the life of people and environment in Dharampur. They are succeeding. A report:     
 
Back – Ground
 
Late Mr. Jugatram Dave was a staunch Gandhian. In year 1924, at the instructions of Mahatma Gandhi he left Gandhi Ashram [Ahmedabad] for good and went to remote villages to choose the most exploited and backward area to serve them. Finally he settled in village Vedchhi [near Valod] in 1926, to serve poor tribal villagers. Vedchhi Pradesh [Area] Seva [Service] Samiti [Committee] - V.P.S.S. was established by him in 1953, making Valod as its base. He handed over VPSS scheme to run to youth [Bhikhubhai & others] of Valod. They were working in Vedchhi Ashram under Mr. Dave. He was the president of VPSS for many years. Inspired by Vedchhi Ashram and based on the guidance of Mr. Dave, many other schools & schemes were launched on Gandhian principles. Also several development activities [termed by Gandhiji as constructive programs] were started in last 9 decades. 
 
Mr Bhikhubhai started his social service career [1951] from Vedchhi Ashram as a teacher [now its president]. Hence this is his mother institution. However VPSS is mainly functioning in Valod - Vedchhi area. Bhikhubhai is the founder trustee of VPSS. Bhikhubhai & Kokiben have focused their attention on Dharampur, since last 3 decades, shifting from Valod area. With more and more schools & development activities in Dharampur area, they established a separate Trust named Van Path to handle a large Dharampur Project.             
 
Schools - Check Dams & Bunding    
 
In this visit while visiting 2 remote villages in the forest area Santu & Ladak showed us some significant Innovative W. M. Programs.
 
In our schools the science students are taught the experiment of ''Buck Hose” or “Siphoning Hose”. Water can be transferred from a higher level to a lower level through a hose [pipe], without use of any power [energy]. It operates on the principle of difference in air – pressures at 2 different points. Santu has used this principle efficiently. Santu & Ladak took us to a farm on a mountain. For this visit, we went from Bilpudi by car for a long distance. Then further road was not motorable. They had already called for a jeep. We changed from our cars to jeep and went further into the mountain. Thereafter there was no further jeepable road. Hence we had to get down and climb the mountain still further. While all of us climbed, it was heartening to see Bhikhubhai at the age 87 climbing the mountain under harsh sun. Santu took us to a small pond in his farm. The bottom of this pond [about 10 feet diameter and about 3 feet depth] is entirely covered with plastic. We were wondering 'How does he get water in this little pond?'. It was clear in a few minutes. Van Path has built 3 check dams on the top of another mountain. Because of these check dams, there is good percolation of water. All the villagers have agreed that after the monsoon the check dam water will not be used for irrigation. It is meant for human and animal consumption. However, from the middle of the mountain, a stream comes out because of the underground water [on account of the dams] activities. In this stream, Santu made a small pond [as above] somewhere 500 feet above the valley. From the pond in the stream they have fixed a thousand feet long pipe. The pipe goes all the way down the valley and then again comes up on the opposite mountain, where Santu took us. Once the pipe is filled with water, purely because of difference in air pressures at 2 different points water comes up on the second mountain. On this mountain, Santu had made a small pond - covered by plastic sheet. Again independent pipe-lines have been laid taking water from this small pond to several surrounding farms. Mango and other plants are watered once every fortnight. All trees and vegetable plants are provided with organic manure made from agricultural waste & cow dung. With this irrigation system for farming and mango plantation as per Santu’s estimate, the farmers’ annual income has gone up by more than Rs. 2 millions. In a poor area like Dharampur this is a significant income. The beauty of the entire system is that it has been set up with no running cost and extremely low capital cost (just the pipes), not using any sort of energy. Truly it is a tremendously innovative idea. In fact, while describing this success story, Santu (aged about 50 years) almost cried with joy. 
 
Wells
 
Little did they care that 25th March was extremely hot day. We were moving around in the mountains between 11.00 a.m. & 2.00 p.m. and had not taken our lunch. They were so enthusiastic with the project work that nothing else mattered. After a long drive, they took us to a small well. The fact that the well had clean drinking water on 25th March is a success story in itself. In Bombay, when we can get 24 hours a - day water by just opening the tap; we do not realize the significance of a successful well. It was successful because at a distance of more than one kilometre, Van Path team had built a good size check dam. When it was built inside the pond, they dug out and removed soil for some depth. At that stage, underground water came out in the pond and entire pond became muddy. At the site of underground water, the villagers were so happy that they all started dancing and throwing mud at each - other. In the excitement caused by joyous dancing, one woman broke her leg and had to be hospitalized. When we realize that in the absence of these check dams and wells, the tribals would be walking long distances with 2 pots on head and the third pot on the waist – we understand the joy of successful check dams and wells [now 300].
 
It is a solid proof that the donations from so many well - wishers make a significant difference in the lives of poor tribals in deep forest.  Thanks also to the community which is actively participating and contributing in form of 50 labor.
 
[From  a report of Mr. Sanghvi after his trip along with some supporters last month. He joined his relative from Bombay [1998] to visit Dharampur. He never knew Dharampur. His relative incidentally is the first Indian donor for Dharampur Poject. Many followed him [donating for the project] in last two decades.-Summarized]

 




NEWS & VIEWS : KAPRADA & DHARAMPUR

               September – October – November – December 2016
 

NOVEL EXPERIMENT FOR IMPROVING EDUACATION
Van Path received an attractive offer of support from Maheshweri Trust [NGO body] of Surat. They are running several model schools in and around Surat city. The trustees are as well taking keen interest in Dharampur schools and other programs in this block. Time and again the trustees of Chhanyado NGO [Associate of Mahesweri] and the teachers visit our schools and other activities. They have been providing generous support in cash and kind [see earlier bulletins] since last 3 years. The teachers visited our schools for teaching and also guiding teachers. It was not found practical for them to come to Dharampur repeatedly from Surat [100 km distance]. This problem was resolved by their unusual offer. Accordingly, since last 1 month, 52 SSC grade boys & girls [final year of secondary school] from our 2 high schools, accompanied by 2 teachers are camping in one of the reputed schools run by the Trust, close to Surat city. They have employed qualified teachers for 3 months. They even sent their school bus to take our students to Surat. As it is not a residential school, they have made special arrangements for halt for our students. The Trust bears all the expenses for lodging – boarding, teaching material etc. The morning starts with Yoga and ends with games. Of course, the focus is on intensive coaching to get good result with high percentage of marks in the next SSC [final] exam in March. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, coming from hilly – forest villages.
The trustees informed us that they are very pleased with the students and have assured us that the Trust will take full responsibility of the students [guidance & support] who get through SSC examination for their studies in the University [whatever faculty they choose]. Koki visited the school thrice, first to see the arrangements and then to meet our students as well as trustees and teachers.
Support from Shrimad Rajchandra Gurukul [School]   
With the same objective and spirit the rest 35 boys and girls of SSC from our 2 schools are getting intensive coaching for 3 months in the science – based higher secondary school in village Karanjveri – 10 km. away from the hostel. 20 boys stay in the Gurukul hostel, while 15 girls stay in our Girls’ Hostel. A vehicle is hired for their travelling to and fro.  
Support from Maa Foundation
Maa Foundation NGO operating from close - by town supported some of our students who finished 12th for college [university] expenses. Since last 2 years they pay salary of 2 experienced teachers for our high schools. Admirably they have loaned services of a very well qualified teacher. He worked for the Foundation under experienced hands. He is now supervising lessons and guiding the teachers The Foundation pays the salary. Great support indeed.
Support from College Students
25 students of Navyug Arts College [University of Surat] collected used but better quality ready-made clothes [well – packed] from the housing societies surrounding the college and brought them to Tamachhadi School in a big truck. The families of the hamlets surrounding the School were more than happy to receive the clothes. The students brought snacks and had a feast with the community and our students in Tamachhadi School, amidst attractive nature. 
Bombay Trip
For all our students and teachers [about 700] a Study- tour was arranged. The students were divided in 6 groups. They were brought from respective schools in Tuff lorry [same way returned] to Valsad station. The young volunteers [of Shree Rajchandra Ashram] received the groups on Bombay station. They joined students for the whole day. They made nice arrangements for lunch also. Special buses were hired from station onwards for visiting interesting places in the city. It was very exciting for the students of forest & hills. Many of them made train journey for the very first time. Almost all of them visited Bombay for the first time and had a feel of all – to - gather different atmosphere. The guardians contributed 150 rupees for the trip. The matching amount was contributed by the project.
First Girl Joins Police Training
One of the students staying in Van Path Girls’ Hostel [Bilpudi] is studying in Faculty of Arts - Social Science [University] for her graduation. Additionally she has joined police training course in Dharampur town. She is the first girl to take this line.
First MBBS [Doctor] Student
Van Path feels proud for the support provided to the first MBBS [Doctor] student from this poor  tribal block. He is not required to pay fees in the medical college [paid by the govt.]; but the monthly hostel [food and accommodation.] fee was a problem for him. Learning about our Scholarship Scheme from some sources, the family approached us and narrated the critical problem. Van Path immediately took responsibility [for 5 years] for hostel fees, till the boy gets MBBS degree.  The boy is going ahead with his studies. He is perhaps the first allopathic medical student in Dharampur Block. 3 years back one boy who got admission in a Homeopathy College faced the same problem. He came to know about Van Path Scholarship scheme from one of our teachers.
First Master in Social Works [MSW]
Our senior worker Santu’s [Joined project from the start] daughter has completed her Masters’ in Social Work [MSW] in a reputed Gandhian University, with support of Van Path and other donors. She further stayed in Baroda with Olakh - NGO of women activists, focussing on the issues of women - for two months to gain experience. Then she got experience in rural reconstruction[ and is now preparing for advanced study. She plans to join some organization working for women.
New Computer Teacher
A double graduate of Sciences and Computer has joined the as a teacher. He takes lessons in Science & Maths in higher grades in both our High Schools as well as is teaching computer basics. He looks after the maintenance of the machines as well it up – keeps. 2 more computers have been purchased for better practicing [in groups].       
Marvellous Mango Plantation Program
This is the 27th year of the launching of the novel ’Mango Plantation Program’. It turned out to be a very successful and paying proposition – highly appreciated by the community. It is a pet program of Tuff [Sweden] also. After the start and initial success, later the maximum support came from Tuff [Sweden], year after year. So far 142800 saplings have reached to the families. [Pl. See earlier N. Bulletins]. Actually Surat friends offered more support [to distribute more mango saplings] for this program in last monsoon; but there were fewer takers. Seems this program has now reached to a saturation point, when we take into consideration diminishing demand of the people, during last 2 years.
Flood Relief
In Tamachhadi we run a Primary & Secondary School with hostel attached to it [on the river bank]. The river was flooded once during last monsoon. Our schools were not affected [Pl. see last Bu.] being on the hill. But 4 families living just on the bank of the river were affected. Van Path provided vessels for cooking and serving food etc.
Crisis Support
One resourceful farmer developed a nursery of bamboos, vegetables and fruits on the bank of a river – with nice result. As it did not rain in the later part of monsoon, there was a problem for irrigating the crops. He had a machine and pipe - line, but the distance between the nursery and river - flow got increased, needing longer pipes. The same was provided by the project. The crops were saved. It was like proverbial stitch on time.
Farmers’ Meeting
A meeting of 40 farmers was held in the Girls’ Hostel premises in Bilpudi, One NGO from Surat is keen to arrange a trip of North India of the farmers who have passed 50 and have never travelled in a train. Obviously they are unfamiliar and hence were explained everything in connection with the trip. 2 senior workers of Van Path will join them, as many of the farmers do not know Gujarati. In company of known persons they feel secured also.
                                   
                                      News in Brief
·       A group of 25 devotees from Valsad [District Head Quarters] arranged a mass meal in Tamachhadi [school] for the hamlet and all the schools. Close to 1500 persons attended the meal.
·       ’Maitri Trust’ of Surat donated books for our entire 4 Primary Schools The trust supports the project regularly.
·       The old buildings of all the 4 Primary Schools have been repaired. One more Reading Room is coming up in Tamacchadi School. Additionally re - colouring also took place, giving the buildings a new look.
·       One social worker [from U.K.] along with her Indian colleague stayed in Tuff Friendship House for 4 days. They were deputed by one Foundation of U. K. to study the activities in Gujarat. Nice discussion with them.
·       2415 Kg improved seeds were distributed to the farmers at their door – steps. 50 % contribution was given by the project & rest 50 % contribution came from the beneficiaries. Minor irrigation also played a positive role.
·       10 experienced teachers volunteered their services for teaching in both our high – schools.
·       Note – books, sports material, uniform dresses, blankets and other furniture [like tables etc.] were received mainly from Surat group and other well – wishers.
·       A coaching camp of our 80 SSC students was held in a nearby Gurukul Science School for intensive study. All such efforts are on to upgrade the merits [marks] in various subjects and get better results in the examination.
                              
                     The Roots of the Roots

Birth of Dharampur Project
An old Australian friend of ours [Neil] was keen to visit Dharampur. He represented ‘Community Aid Abroad’ [CAA] of Australia. In that capacity he visited our original area of activities around Valod [VPSS] & Borakhadi [Koki’s School] several times in eighties. Borakhadi Ashram got the first aid from CAA, some 45 years ago. Their support gradually spread to several Gandhian schools in Gujarat. Dharampur Project was not born, but the discussion was in the air. We casually talked about Dharampur with Neil. Accordingly CAA asked me to first study the problem of vanishing forest – as they were interested in reforestation,  As a follow up, first time I visited Dharampur [1985?] villages with late Dr. Navneetbhai [Sarvodaya]. The rounds were eye opening. I submitted a preliminary report. But we were not yet clear if and when we would involve in Dharampur, leaving our lifelong work around Valod [VPSS]. That is why no immediate follow – up could take place. In the mean while I had a chance meeting with Tuff group in Bombay. They were on a visit of the projects supported by Tuff. As promised by the Tuff group in Bombay, next year a big TUFF Group from Sweden visited Borakhadi [Koki’s PTC College]. The first TUFF support for the school in Borakhadi arrived next year. Before and after many schools & development activities were supported by Tuff in Gujarat. In the mean while we resolved to concentrate in Dharampur. Then followed our rounds. In 1988 we started shifting to Dharampur [80/90 km from Valod]. Rest is history. 
Neil
Neil [CAA] also shifted to other Asian countries. But he never forgot Valod [his first love]. Then he retired and was looking after his farm. In between, he was taken up seriously ill. Fortunately he got recovered last year and expressed his [80?] desire before Mrs Bedi [former CAA representative living in Pune and running one NGO]. Accordingly, Dharampur trip was planned and the itinerary was finalized. Unfortunately Neil had a stroke on way [While in Shree Lanka] and had to return to Australia. We thank him for his love of Valod -  Dharampur.                  
 
                             A Case of Inborn Intellect
Some years back an overseas friend visited Valod. His granddaughter and her friend joined him. Finding a canal near our residence, the kids ran towards it for swimming. One of the girls had a contact lens. It fell down. The girl could hardly see. The group was to move in India for 3 more weeks. I told them that we would get another lens. The girl told that it was a very special lens and we could not get it anywhere in India. 2 tribal kids were moving around at that time. They somehow understood the situation. They offered to find out the lens. We simply agreed to it. They jumped in the canal and within no time returned with the tiny lens. It was quite a surprise. The kids found the lens not knowing what the object looked like.  The team was so excited and surprised to get back the precious lens. They were very impressed by the smartness of the illiterate tribal kids.
 
                             LOUD THOUGHTS  : IDEALISM – SPIRITUALISM - MORALITY
 
There is constant conflict between intellect [head] and emotion [heart] within us. The emotion is a driving force.  Usually the ethical [moral] aspect is overlooked. The actions that follow are considered worldly -wise. The heart [instinct] gives us right direction; but the mind considers it impractical. The general attitude prevails that idealism is not for ordinary man and woman. It is something to be followed by saints & social [committed] workers only. What Gandhiji spoke about inner voice [felt] –final guide is this instinct, I think. If people follow more and more the direction given by heart, the world would be a better place to live. This could happen if one is inspired and blessed [motivated] – resulting in inner satisfaction. 
A Million Dollar question is - how could this happen? Outsiders have not a big role in this moral crisis - not even Gurus [spiritual mentors] can help [could guide]. It comes from within and then it is irrepressible. It is the real joy – much better than materialistic pleasure. At best, it is temporary.  On the other hand, inner joy is eternal. Unfortunately that happens in the case of only a fortunate few, because our concept of joy [happiness] itself is faulty. Books – Sanskar [values & virtues] - Satsang – Family Back - ground – Serving the needy, Friends etc. could certainly play effective [positive] role. All normal persons would have to fulfil basic requirements for the family. But there should be some limit in income - expenditure and things [possessions] that one may want to have. Here the biggest stumbling block is greed – a big challenge. One has to inculcate right spirit and make proper choice. Middle way between Materialism & Idealism is an extreme phase, giving us invaluable bliss That is only and only in our hands. This is sort of loud thinking, addressed to me as well as I have many miles to go.
As for me, idealism is spiritualism and spiritualism is idealism. I modestly believe that one is incomplete without the other. In spiritualism more emphasis is on self [individual growth] - of course in the context of relationship; while in idealism total emphasis is on the individual's action [karma] and behaviour in and for the society [beyond family. I think without some sort of spiritualism idealism [good in a way] may develop egoism or at worst hypocrisy. Any ideology - if it only focuses on narrow and only individual growth – so called spiritualism [not connected to society], I would not be attracted to it. As for me, SEVA [SERVICE] is Bhakti - Devotion [so - called religion] in action. Nothing more is required after pure, selfless and egoless SEVA [SERVICE].
                                                [From a response to an article written by a friend]
                                    
                         HOLISTIC DHARAMPUR PROJECT IN NUTSHELL
                                                      

         [A] INITIATION &  OUTSTANDING FEATURES  

 
·       Initial rounds started in 1986. Formal inauguration: 1988. Work started in 1988.
·       The Project follows holistic lines..
·       1 Primary & 1 Secondary school/hostel are supported by Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram.     
·       1 Primary & 1 Secondary school/hostel are supported by Shree Raj Foundation of Bombay.
·       2 Primary Schools/hostels supported by students of Sweden [Tuff]. Contribution: A Day's Labour
·       All schools are residential. The teachers live in the same campus.
·      The Girls’ Hostel is supported by Trusts from Bombay. Land is donated by a trial farmer.      
·       Over and above Primary & Secondary Schools guidance & support [after 12th] for Higher Education.
·       In all the schools/hostels land donated by Village Councils or poor tribal farmers.
·       No servants and clerks in any school or hostel. Self – help principle is followed.
·       For all the schools land is donated by local farmers or village councils. 
·       100 villages of Dharampur & Kaparada Blocks are covered by one or the other activities of the project.
·       The total population of these villages Nearly100000 people.
·       Area of operation in the two blocks : 4/5th  poorer remote villages in hills & forest – only tribaes         
·       The total expenditure for schools & other community development programs crosses 10 million rupees
·       Around 20 % is people’s contribution. It is mainly in form of labour for check – dams, soil – bunding and digging wells from the beneficiaries. The cash contribution [around 50 %] is for mango saplings, pumps & seeds. For hostel expenses token 5 % contribution in cash is taken from the guardians. 
·       No government grant is received for schools - hostels or other development programs.
·       About 7 % administrative expenditure is done for the whole project. .
·       Focus: Education & Economic Development [Main : Improvement in Agriculture & Employment]
 
         [B]   MAIN ACTIVITIES IN DHARAMPUR & KAPARADA BLOCKS
·       Schools & Hostels
·       Scholarship Scheme for Higher Education [Diploma & University]
·       Vocational Guidance & Support Scheme to the students who preferred these lines after 10th or 12th.
·       Soil & Water Management [Check Dams - Soil Bunding]
·       Rain Water Harvesting Tanks
·       Improved Seeds
·       Oil Engines & Electric pumps 
·       Mail Buffaloes
·       Mango Plantation

·       Wells

·       Mass Marriages [In initial phase only]
·       Nutritive Food for Pregnant Women & Child Care
·       Partial financial support in emergency cases for poor patients in cooperation with Charitable Hospital
·       Distribution of roofing tiles to the most needy families 
 
[Check - Dams, Soil –Bunding & Wells were not executed for seasonal reasons]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                 
                           Joint Bulletin of Van Path: Bilpudi & VPSS: Valod  :  [9429885232]
 


 BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA
[May – June – July – August : 2016]
                

  NEWS

Monsoon Crisis
The pattern of monsoon is rather strange this year. It was delayed by about a month. For 225 students of Primary & High School at Vaghval water problem became critical. For 3 weeks we had to provide water by tankers from long distances. This happened for the first time. For the same reason, the lake from where the school gets water was totally dry. Van Path seized this opportunity to deepen the lake. Now it is full and would store more water in future. 3 more new lakes also have been dug for storage of rain water for the people living in those hamlets.
Then there was unprecedented heavy rain for about a fortnight. The close – by government residential school in Tamachhadi was surrounded by water in early morning. The students and the only teacher from that school climbed the nearby hill for safety. Getting this news, the teachers of our school approached the students and directed them to reach our school, walking through upper range of hills - as the main road was flooded. The students arrived likewise, rested in our school [on the hill] and took lunch. The guardians came to know about the incident. One by one they came to the school and escorted their kids home.
Close to the girls' hostel is a government primary school with a hostel for students of distant hamlets. The hostel did not function during heavy rains. The head master approached us. The school was provided food - grains etc. for 2 months, for about 50 students.
Farmers’ Camp
A  five - day training camp for farmers and field workers was held in Gandhi Nagar. 2 workers and 4 farmers attended the camp, conducted by a well - known organic farming activist. The group attending the camp very much appreciated the training - speeches and demonstrations. They were convinced that the operative cost could come down heavily, if we follow the scientific methods taught in the camp and no chemical fertilizers are required.  The compost manure is so important in this method. The cattle are required in that case. All farmers in Dharampur have cattle. Now our block coordinators who joined the group are planning how to execute the innovative way of farming that they have leant. They are full of enthusiasm and hope. Once implemented successfully, it could have demonstrative effect for other farmers.
Music Camp
Two days Music Camp to teach new songs to the students selected from all our 4 primary and 2 high schools was held in Shrimad Rajchandra Vidya Vihar - Tamachhdi. 50 students and 10 teachers attended the camp. An expert team from Ahmedabad conducted the camp nicely, supported by 5 music teachers from our schools. About 25 new songs were taught. Surat group involved in Dharampur work observed the training and enjoyed group songs.
Unique Support for Schools
Mr. Bharatbhai Shah [president] and other trustees of Chhanydao NGO [Surat] visited Tamachhadi and Bilupdil. The principal and other teachers from a big school of Surat also joined them. The teachers visited all the classes of the school and held discussions with our teachers. They are keen to support our students in basic subjects. It is not possible for them to visit Tamachhadi repeatedly, but they could conduct special classes in their school, if Van Path is prepared to send the students to Surat who are going to appear in SSC [final exam of secondary level]. It was decided to send 50 students from our 2 high schools for 2 months from December onwards. The trustees of the school [they also joined] offered to send the school - bus to collect students from here and make proper lodging - boarding arrangements. Maheshwary Trust running the school will bear all the cost of this innovative plan. In-depth discussion followed in Bilpudi for improving educational standard of our schools. They will also repeatedly visit Dh. to guide our teachers. All these efforts are  on to improve SSC results.
Higher Education
Since last 2 years 5 students have joined Nursing School run By Ashaktashram [Health institute] in Surat. Another Ngo is providing full support for tuition and hostel fees for 2 year. This year for some unavoidable reasons the new batch could not get the support as above and hence could not get admition. We personally met the principal of the school and president of the institute in Surat. 3 years’ graduation course is rather costly. So we requested them to find some solution so that the poor girls from remote Dharampur area could carry on their study.  Finally the arrangement for 2 aspiring girls was worked out. The Ashram will not charge Rs 80,000 tuition fee per student per year. They would get it from govt. They will not take hostel rent. As for food expenses, Rs 25000 will be the support from Ashram. The rest 25000 will be shared by Van Path and the guardians. This year 30 more students have joined Engineering,   Science, Arts [general], Social Studies and Education [for becoming teachers].
Trainings of Teachers
8 teachers from 2 high schools visited a reputed school in Surat to observe how they teach. They got teaching material and had useful discussion about teaching methods. The principal of the school frequently visits Dharampur to guide our teachers. The 4 science teachers got one such opportunity at Arch teaching centre as also at Shrimad Rajchanra Gurukul – both in Dh.
Registration for FCRA Number
Vadchhi Pradesh Seva Samiti is registered with Home Ministry for last 35 years. It entitles VPSS to receive foreign contribution. Now the Government has made new rules. Accordingly, VPSS applied for renewal of the number. It was rather a complicated process requiring so many documents, accounts and other material. VPSS did it on time and has now got a new number.
Material Help
Chhanyado - reputed NGO of Surat and the friends connected with that NGO are providing lot of support in various ways during last three years. Note - books for all the students of all our schools were provided by the NGO as also one uniform dress for each and every student [700]. We also received few coats and other furniture from the group. Every 15 days come pure and quality snacks for all the schools and 200 ready – made food packets for pregnant ladies and lactating mothers. For new – born kids is received 60 basic requirement kits. Great. 
Expanding in Neighbouring State
Van Path expertise in Water Management is now spreading to the neighbouring State Marashtraon on two borders – one towards Bombay and another in the opposite direction. The Bombay side NGO successfully constructed the first check dam. The activist group visited Dharampur recently and narrated their exciting story of success and thanked Van Path [credit goes to our coordinators] for frequently visiting the sites and for guiding. They visited some dams [also schools] for further guidance. We had stimulating discussion about their future plans of rural development as they work in almost Dharampur – type hilly – forest region. We have assured them our full cooperation.  On the other side, close to one of our schools the people came to know about dams and its simple technique. Our coordinator was invited to learn from him what and how is happening in the cluster. Then a big group of 25 local leaders visited few dams, so close to their villages in Maharashtra. They were inspired by what they saw and told our coordinator – all this we can do. We have assured them full cooperation.
Girls’ Hostel: Bilpudi
In the same village where the Higher Secondary Science School is situated, a new hostel for girls is opened by the local Forest Cooperative Society. The students of Science faculty have shifted to that hostel from Van Path hostel, reducing the number. Now there are 30 students of arts faculty only. But for the first time, 3 students of Arts College have been admitted [27 + 3]. Last year’s result: In science Faculty: 12 out of 13 and in Arts Faculty 25 out of 25 students passed in final public examination [12th]. They are now qualified to join university faculties.
                                                      
                                                           News in Brief
 
·         10 volunteer teachers taught their subjects. They visited schools when convenient.
·         60 new mail – buffaloes have been distributed to 30 farmers.
·         2800 new mango saplings distributed at the door steps of the community [50 % cost].
·         The meeting of Trustees of Van Path was held. All 7 trustees participated. The report of on - going programs was presented and future plans and policies were discussed.
·         Van Path received text books for all the students free from Govt. & few other donors.
·         A meeting of well – wishers by ‘Friends of Dharampur’. group was held in Bombay. Bhikhu Vyas attended the meet, gave report of work and thanked the donors for help.
·         For all the 6 hostels big cookers have been purchased. It substantially saves fire wood.
·         200 students were admitted in new year in Van Path primary & secondary schools.
·         From our 2 schools in SSC [final of H. School] public test 50 out of 80 students  passed.
·         1 more engineer [B. E.] is added. Till he gets a job he is now teaching in our H. Schools.
 
An Article in a Book published from Bombay  
[Summary of an article from a book published last year by 'Friends of Dharampur' : Bombay]
28 years ago, in a hilly - forest region of Dharampur, when schools were few to find and economic development was minimal, Dharampur project was launched, with focus on education. Gradually it spread in around 125 villages touching the life of more than 1,10,000 poor tribals. Van Path is set up to handle fast-growing programs to take over activities from a sister NGO Vedchhi Pradesh Seva Samiti (VALOD). The sources of support remained the schools of Sweden (TUFF) and later donations from Bombay. In last 3 years further expansion became possible on account of Surat Group [Chhanyado NGO] joining the March. They adopted 20 farthest and still undeveloped villages. They work hand – in - hand with Van Path.
Education
The project runs 4 primary schools, 2 high schools and a hostel for tribal girls for higher secondary [11th & 12th grades]. Since last 7/8 years the students are joining University [different faculties] & other professional/technical courses. This year 50 students are in higher education. So far 400 students have been in this type of higher studies [Diplomas & Degrees]. For the first decade funds were managed from Tuff, later followed by other donors. The students [through their work during vacations] and their families also contribute partially. One educational institution admitted 30 students [Engineering] without charging any fees. For example, one studnt did M.E. in computer science with Van Path help. Now about 700 students are getting education as above, living and studying in 7 schools/hostels of Van Path.
Water Management & Other Programs
After schools, the next priority was wells. So far 280 wells and 7 Rain Water Harvesting Tanks [capacity 50000 litres each] have been constructed. 27 water storage tanks have also been given to most needy families. Gradually, Van Path took up several socio - economic programs. It took up 2 major initiatives for upgrading agriculture: Soil Bunding - immediately followed by Mini Check Dams. Local soil & stones are used for the dams. People contribute 50 % labour. So far 550 dams have been built. About 75 villages are covered under Soil Bunding program, benefiting around 1500 families and bringing nearly 2000 hectares of hilly land under cultivation. Just for example, last year in 3 programs of wells-dams-bunding, 80000 kg rice was distributed as 50 % remuneration [Food for Work]. Almost same is the story of earlier years.  For minor irrigation so far 275 electric motors are given at half the price. Nothing for free and no government subsidy. One important program connected to agricultural production is of male - buffalo [live tractors]. So far 5200 animals have been distributed to 2600 families. Van Path is getting them free from several cattle - sheds [some are on border of Pakistan]. Half the transportation [by truck] cost also is born by them. The rest nominal price is taken from the beneficiaries. Another successful program is mango plantation. So far 140000 saplings have been distributed at half the price, at the door - steps of the people. Almost entire support has come from Tuff during last 2 decades and is continuing. Improved varieties of seeds are being given  [of around RS. 4,00,000] at half the price every year Van Path provided roof tiles to the families who could not cover the whole roof. In last 2 years 200 families were given 10000 roof tiles [500 each] at half the price.
Conclusion
The cost of administration is hardly 5 %. Looking back in retrospect, when the group entered this zone almost no schools were functioning. Today almost every child goes to school. In higher education the first demand of the guardians is Science [University]. There is remarkable change in economic scenario as well. In this long journey, it is gratifying to note the changes that various activities of Van Path [formerly VPSS] have brought in this poor area. The project is now passing through 'Take – off’ phase. This so – called backward region has a bright future.
 
Words of Appreciation
As I was going through your latest report, I was feeling blessed. What a wonderful partnership with committed members of the society you have created! In a way, Dharampur is becoming a true centre of responsible civilization - Kantisen
[Shree Kantisen Shroff [92] is a social activist – cum – industrialist from Bombay]                 

Assessment : Dharampur Project                                       
 Much has happened in Dharampur in last 3 decades. Our visits started by chance in 1986 and actual work initiated in 1988. The picture was very dark at that time. We did not have any road map or targets. The diverse programs went on unfolding and multiplying by and by in last 3 decades. It turned out to be such a vast and complex project, on holistic lines.
 
Issues
There was near total illiteracy. Hardly any govt. school was functioning, when we stepped in. Naturally we jumped into education, to start with. Two more problems surfaced during our rounds in remote villages: [1] Abject Poverty & [2] Water Scarcity. We never imagined that it was so serious and wide - spread. This area famous for the highest rain - fall in Gujarat faced acute drinking water scarcity in summer. That opened our eyes. Immediately was taken up program of sinking wells [later on check dams] followed by a comprehensive plan of upgrading agriculture, to get more production & generate employment. Gradually the project touched all aspects of life. As of now, our assessment indicates some drawbacks and limitations. For example the results of final exams and percentage of marks are now not up to the mark. Over & above education, we started evaluating the project as a whole.
 
We have hard - working and committed village workers [all locals] but not that efficient, as required by the challenge of this fast – growing and multipurpose project. All teachers are nice and sincere [of course not steady], but bit weak in teaching subjects. City - based youngsters are not prepared to come to this hilly - forest area, full of logistic challenges and scarcity. Of course, we are lucky to get nice support from few well - qualified and concerned volunteers [teachers and others]. But it is not sufficient for the requirement, as there is dearth of corresponding human resources. This according to us is the key problem. Of course, we are trying to mend the performance at all levels, all the time.
 
New Air in the Area
The times are fast changing in this tribal belt also, as they are not living in vacuum. At family level the results are satisfactory in all the programs. But in case of voluntary group - work for programs targeted outside the narrow circle of family, the beneficiaries are now not coming forward to act as before. Individualism is spreading fast. The attraction is more or less economic benefits. After such a quick development in this neglected area, this could be an obvious [interim] phase and may vanish. I think, in our over - enthusiasm to fight poverty this aspect was overlooked. No doubt, there are so many programs, making wonderful impact in improving living standard of the community. But the focus by and large remained materialistic development [very much needed in this poor block] - not so much for emergence of new leadership and hamlet committees. This I feel is the weakness of our approach. Of course, we have started realizing this. We will have to try [educate] to change the mentality of the community as well as re-design our approach. We are now trying - though it will be hard and the process would be slow. Again, we have not much time left and yet much remains to be done.
 
Puzzle
Returning to education sector, we experience one more puzzle: All those who got degrees do not get proper and secure jobs, matching their qualification. That is creating frustration regarding higher [after 12th] studies. This year we realized that the guardians were not as enthused as before for university [higher] education, as those who are qualified are not finding jobs. A few who got jobs - away from Dharampur tribal region in towns are getting very small salaries or are employed on temporary basis. People feel [?] that after 4/5 years of study if this is the outcome, why should their kids spend [waist?] so many years, without any financial gain? I think no family wanted higher education for their kids simply for personality development. In those 4/5 years, they [at around 20 plus age] could be earning [labour – oriented] members of the family. The solution seems to be some technical and vocational courses. After finishing such short - term courses, jobs could be found in the district, at local level. They could join such courses in nearby towns.  Even in Dharampur town now there are 2 technical schools run by dedicated NGOS. In that case, the students save 4 to 5 years. Few concrete examples:
 
Examples
A few days back a former student came to get admission for his sister in the Hostel. That was done. This boy passed his 10th in Tamachhadi  H. School a few years ago. He wanted to study further in higher secondary [11th] in Dharampur. He got admitted accordingly, but did not find place in the only hostel for boys in Dharampur town. As an exception, he was allowed to stay in the guest room of the Girls' Hostel. He stayed here for two years and finished his 12th.  Now he wanted to study further - degree or diploma? Sought our advice. Meanwhile we came to know about an ideal technical [experimental] school in Pune [close to Bombay]. The NGO running the school was like Van Path. Their mission is to divert students from academic subjects to technical courses, with self - help approach. The boy joined the course in Pune as advised by us. For the first 6 months Van Path paid his tuition and hostel fees. Then he started working in the school workshop. He started earning, while learning. Then no fees were required. He became skilled turner - fitter in just 2 years and got job immediately in nearby town. He became smart and changed the jobs for better salary. Finally he is selected in a factory - not far away from Dharampur. He is getting RS 12000 monthly salary, free food and accommodation. This is very good according our standards. Even if selected, ordinarily graduates get around Rs 5000 per month. He became expert in his trade by experience only. He has not joined any Engineering Degree College like few of our other students. Some of his class – mates joined Nursing  Schools and have got jobs in the area,  befitting their qualification.
 
Many of the students of his batch opted for subjects like arts - sociology etc. in the university. After getting degrees they did not find proper jobs. Some of them [also who finished 12th and stopped there] are struggling to get any type of jobs. A few are working as helpers in general stores or waiters, with very low salary. Again after getting educated they are not so happy in agriculture of the family. I come across several double degree graduates and post-graduates without any jobs. They wander here and there in search of jobs. Perhaps in future we may suggest our students to take up technical - vocational courses for skill development. Van Path will guide and support them. That seems to be the best and practical solution. Of course, those who may be keen and capable for subjects like arts, sociology and science subjects could certainly join the university courses; but we will not push [?] and support them [accept science], as we have been doing last 6/7 years.  Now one more glaring example:
 
The student who got the highest degree [the first ever Master in Computer Science [M. E] in the block - referred in one of the N. Bulletins - name Dilip] is struggling for a decent job, befitting his qualification. He was with us recently in Bilpudi. His sad story:
 
• For a year he worked as a teacher in Tamachhadi High school.
• Next year he got a job in Ahmadabad.
• The salary was not up to his high qualification, but he had no choice.
• It was a temporary job for 10 months.
• He came back to Tamachhadi School and from there kept applying.
• He was invited by the same firm, but was transferred to Bangalore.
• He left the job, as in a small salary he could not manage in that distant and unfamiliar place.
• Again he came back to Tamachhdi School.
• Recently he has got a job in a rural bank, on daily wages.
• He gets Rs 225 per day, with no holidays.
=========================================================
            Joint Bulletin of Van Path: Bilpudi  & VPSS: Valod  : India
                             Mo. 9429885232: E – mail : bhikhuvyas@gmail.co        
 
 
 News Bulletin : Van Path : Dharampur
                        [January – February – March – April : 2016]


COGRATULATIONS TUFF : APPROACHING GOLDEN JUBILEE YEAR
Next year it is going to be 50 years of the birth of TUFF! What a journey and what an achievement! My salutes to Ake & group who conceived the idea and started this peace organization. Yes, it is very impressive and pleasing that he is still so active. Many of the founders have left this world or are not strong enough to remain active. The results during half of a century of the journey of TUFF are very impressive. Dharampur is one such example. We are highly indebted to Tuff for all the development that became possible in Dharampur. After 2 years initiation, actual work started modestly in 1988 in this vast block. Rest is history. Before that Tuff helped many schools and other development programs around Valod [Vedchhi Pradesh Seva Samiti]. All to gather it is a story of 35 years at a stretch, without any break - perhaps a record in international cooperation. It really is a unique case..
Am happy to learn that Tuff is expanding its compass and covering few less developed countries. It is a positive sign. It is equally pleasing to know that TUFF has 2 new young members on the board. Yes, I know Örjan Wiberg - very forceful and focussed person He is now rather old. He had twice been to Dharampur. We had been to his remote village. He has generously supported Dharampur Project. I know his grandson Magnus. He once accompanied his grandfather to Dharampur. I was impressed with him. Good that he has joined as a young board member. [From a letter to Lisa]

Crusade Against Alcohol : Tamachhadi
A few weeks ago 2 city – based ladies moved with us to select a cluster where they could stay and start some social work. One of them is a surgeon. She closed her private hospital in Surat. Another one is running an NGO [OLAKH] - forum for training of women activists & fighting for women's rights. Luckily a sensitive movement was awaiting them, with a result that an unplanned beginning of their mission took place. During the trip they casually came to know about the agitation initiated against alcohol by few [almost illiterate] tribal ladies living around Tamachhadi School. Their movement is to close down alcohol shops. Beating wives and kids under the influence of alcohol had become very common. A few youngsters have lost their lives on account of over - drinking. Some have become widows at young age. Not only that their kids going to the village school also started drinking and were irregular in the schools. They were spoiling their childhood. All this became intolerable for the young mothers. They led the movement. The leaders started picketing against wine - shops and organized protest marches. Gradually more and more women joined the agitation. The leaders further approached government officials of the County. As usual they were ignored, because the police got bribes from the shop - keepers. The leaders were even threatened physically. But they did not give in. When the local officials did not support them, the leaders approached higher authority. All this appeared in the press. On account of this movement wine shops are closed and it is not available easily. Some young boys also are now coming forward in their support. 

After learning about the agitation those 2 activist friends were keen to meet the leaders to understand the issue and help in whatever way they could. Accordingly a well – attended emergency meeting took place in Tamachhadi School. The women - most of them illiterate - were very vocal. One by one they narrated their horrible experiences. The local leaders asked for help and guidance. They invited these 2 ladies to revisit Tamachhadi. They were more than happy to come again and involve.  Along with this protest program new development programs also will be taken up by them with focus on women. Initially they may stay in our hostel, before fixing the final spot. This group will also be a good guide to our students. [One more meeting took place and the two friends have now decided to make Tamachhdi school their base to start social activities, in cooperation with Van Path.]

The 2 activists revisited Tamachhadi last week camping for 4 days at Tamachhadi School. They moved in the surrounding villages. The Tamachhadi lady leaders further joined them in Baroda on 8th March - it being 'Women's International Day'.  One Italian doctor - turned journalist [see below] also joined the group during this visit. He has left medical profession. He is a lover of country side of  India

Italian Activist in Dharampur
“It has been a very touching experience to be in Tamachhadi. I wish all the best to the courageous women [from the village]. I have seen them come together, later in the evening - after a hard day's work. I saw them discussing with passion and all to gether. I would like to come back to greet them and you all as old friends. [Viniclo - A surgeon turned photographer – activist interested in rural India]
Loving Gesture of Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram of Dharampur
From our 2 high schools 83 students appeared in the final SSC public exam. Accommodation was a big problem. Shrimad Ashram kindly provided accommodation & food for about 2 weeks. What a kind gesture! The mentor Resp. Rakeshbhai met all the students, spent good amount of time and blessed them. They were over-whelmed. They penned down their impressions lucidly, in touching words.   
Journalist Students in Dharampur
2 lady students of journalism [doing Masters in Gujarat University] moved a lot for 5 days in the villages and schools of Dharampur. They came here to conduct survey of impact of media in rural area. They as well met those ladies [agitating against alcohol] in Tamachhadi School. I joined them in one remote village [for case study] to have a feel of the situation at the ground level - what has been achieved so far and what yet remains to be done. It was rather good learning. From their report:
One week rural trip bewilder my mind with different experiences have changed my perspective about the development completely. It is not about what we see in urban areas. It is about what people need in rural areas. To join hands with rural communities, empathies with their struggles and connect with their aspirations is the 1st step towards development I felt. It is difficult to understand problems of people surviving at root level, unless and until we experience it. To donate money is easy, but to solve their problems by suffering with them is very difficult. It was great time to be with a couple who spent their entire life in service of others. The trip became possible because of Kokilaben & Bikhubhai who helped us to see the reality and support us to expand knowledge through eyes of development. Exploring four villages of tribal areas gave us adventurous experience aswe learnt a lot of new things and also got opportunity to expand our mentality about tribal people. Now, we can understand the difference between reality and what we are served by media. As per main objective of this trip, we observe that today’s media is very much clever that they know the need of their target audience. They are not concerned with the reality or they don’t want to uncover them. They surely have power to communicate those priority issues which needed solution.

Guardians’ Gatherings
We had guardians' gatherings in 4 of our schools and the Girls’ Hostel. About 90 % guardians [majority women] attended the meetings and saw the performances of their kids. A few students gave nice talks. Some guardians gave their suggestions. We spoke about our future plans and expectations from them. We value them very much as it shows the awareness on the part of the parents. When we started our mini-schools some 28 years ago, almost the whole society was illiterate. Now they are highly motivated and understand the worth of education. In all the meetings the guests associated with education expressed their appreciation for our schools at remote places.
One more Tribal Engineer

The tribal youngster from one unapproachable village passed B. E. [mechanical engineering] in First Class. He aspired to go for Masters. His father is a farm labourer. His mother has 2 cows - the only support for the family. His sister [our ex - student] is now studying for Bachelor of Rural Studies with Van Path support. She passed her 12th grade staying in Bilpudi Hostel. 2 months ago the boy came to see us. He wanted support for further study. But worried about the condition of his family he changed his mind and approached us again, if a job could be found. [Pl. See the last Bu.] Immediately we started approaching several friends. One of them is Bhavna. She is part of the project team. She regularly visits schools to give vocational guidance [after 10th & 12th] and manage admissions and placements of them in different colleges. With her support the boy has now got a decent job
. .
North Indian Trip
The students of our 2 high schools who finished final level schooling were keen to visit North India. For our project the proposition was rather costly. The students argued: Now onwards in our life we would never get such an opportunity. After their final public exam [Matriculation], instead of going home, 58 students and 5 teachers went for 5 days long - distance trip by train. They first visited interesting places of Delhi, then further Agra - Haridwar as well as other places of interest around river Ganges. Obviously they could not afford such a big expense. Fortunately they were availed of railway concession [2/3rdt of the ticket]. The scholarship of the government for 10th grade was diverted for trip expenses. Food expenses for half the trip and teachers’ expenses were born by the project. After Delhi, the group reached Haridwar. From R. Station onwards Surat group managed all expenses [food – travelling - accommodation – sightseeing etc.]. The rest nearly 25 % was the guardians’ contribution [much of it came from work by students]. A project costing about a quarter million rupees in toto became possible and very cheap in this way - a lifetime experience for poor tribal students.  
Van Path Experts Guide Maharashtra NGO
Two experts from our team visited a few villages for some days [on Bombay side] to help 2 NGOS there to locate proper sites for check dams. OneNGOfrom Bombay planned to initiate the program. It was followed by a visit of several built and being built [at several stages] check dams by 40 farmers of that area. It was sort of their field training Also Bombay NGO team visited some dams [and other activities – including our schools] in Dharampur Block, to get total picture They as well visited Van Path office [Bilpudi Hostel] and discussed their future plans for rural development. Finally the first check dam has been constructed. We got exciting report of the inauguration. Our experts joined them again to guide, while the work was in the final stage of construction. Earlier they wrote to us: “With motivation from you and the guidance we started with one check dam construction and now have completed it. Presence of expert from Dharampur team proved very useful. We were clueless before they arrived. We are really thankful for sharing their time with us. You are an inspiration for all of us. We would once again like to come to Bilpudi to discuss our future plans.

Expansion : Male – Buffalo Program 
The male – buffalo program has proved very useful – as part of our livelihood program. A group interested in this program [5000 animals distributed so far] visited a few villages. They were very impressed with the way people keep the animals. Now the flow of animals will start soon from their district – having high concentration of buffalos. Now the people will get buffalos very fast. At present they have to wait for more than a year, as the supply is less, compared to the demand .would turn out an ambitious program. The animals are very useful in agricultural operations. The groups supporting this program give animals to Van Path at subsidised price. That is why farmers will get them at nominal price, at their doorsteps. The animals are brought by trucks from a distance of about 600 km.

What a Support!
An unknown gentleman came to visit a school they had supported in the neighbouring county. While returning they found a sign – board showing direction of Dharampur. They had heard about our work from some source and decided to visit us. Last minute they changed the direction and somehow reached the Girls’ Hostel [Bilpudi]. By chance we were present. After preliminary talk they joined us to Tamachhadi School. While departing, the main person handed over a cheque of RS 25000 to us. He is settled in Canada and had come for a short visit of his native village.

News in Brief
25 students of an architectural college camped in Tamchhadi to study the housing system of the village. They moved extensively for the purpose and also entertained our students.
A group of film makers visited Dharampur. They are planning to direct a  film on Tribal life
We also had with us a group of 5 visitors. One of them is the brother [US] of Koki. His friends [an Indian couple] from Newzeland also were with him. The couple is to retire and return to India soon. The lady expressed her wish to join us off and on, once they settle down here.
A well – wisher and her daughter [settled in Canada] visited one of our schools and gave away note – books and books of general knowledge to the students. Several other donors provided text – books. Our students also received uniform dresses and writing tables. 

Journey of 3 Decades : Dharampur Project :  Broad  Picture
Introductory
It was a chance visit of Dharampur villages some 3 decades ago. Result : Dharampur Project was born, with focus on education. It took holistic shape with the passage of time. Bearing Dharampur town, all residents are tribal. The activities now are spread in around 125 villages, touching the life of more than 110000 people. Our sources of support remained Bombay & the Schools of Sweden [TUFF]. The yearly expenditure has crossed 12 m. rupees [SEK 1.5 m]. In last 3 years more expansion became possible on account of 2 new groups making effective entry. The Surat group adopted 20 villages of the farthest and difficult cluster, with Van Path hostel school as the centre. Another group Tarsadia Foundation by chance came to know about our work. The president [US -based] of the Foundation immediately visited Bilpudi. He moved with us extensively and was so overtaken that the Foundation decided to work here. Van Path loaned services of our main coordinator. It worked very well. They even set up a regular office to work intensively in Kaprada Block. They are doing a great job for quality education in about 125 government .schools and have taken up many development plans.
Education
The following is the position:
[1] Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram of Dharampur finances the Primary & High School in Tamachhadi. With their support 5 more rooms have been added. 
[2] Shree Raj Foundation of Bombay finances Primary & High school in Vaghval. They provided support for colouring all the buildings of both the schools & hostels.
[3] Tuff [Sweden] finances 2 of our primary schools at Vankhas & Chandvagen. The students of several Swedish Schools work for one day to raise funds – coordinated by Tuff.
[4] Van Path closed down one hostel. It is taken over by local people.
[5] The hostel at Virekshetra is taken over by Surat Group. They are going to increase the number.
[6] Since last 10 years Van Path is running hostel in Bilpudi for tribal girls of 11th & 12th. A tribal family donated about half a hectare of land. One donor provided funds for construction of 8 rooms, kitchen, 2 wells and sanitary blocks. Van Path now has a nice Guest House & a Library Room in the hostel - thanks to Tuff. Earlier Tuff & other individual donors provided running cost. Last 2 years Van Path received support from 2 NGOS. A smokeless stove is introduced. It can serve 100 students. About 75 % firewood is saved and the cooking is very fast. All our hostels will now have this stove
[7] Since last 7 years our students are joining University [different faculties] & other vocational courses. 50 students at present are in higher education. [total:400]. Initially funds were managed from Tuff & general donations. The students [work during vacations] & their families also contribute partially. This year one institution for higher education admitted 28 students [engineering] without any fees. Van Path is now confident to manage for increasing number joining higher education every year, from general donations & contribution on increasing scale from guardians. For example one youngster did M.E. [Co. Science] with Van Path support. He has now got a nice job. The education is free. At present totally 750 students are getting education in our schools and in other institutions. 

Wells
After schools the next priority was wells, as we found acute drinking water problem. For the first decade in Dharampur this [103 wells] was the pet program of Tuff. 15 new wells have been built this year. Van Path is working intensively on this issue, as the problem has become critical. Next year we will focus on drinking water issue. So far 280 wells have been constructed. 
Socio – Economic Programs 
Gradually Van Path took up several socio - economic programs to raise living standard of the poor. For that agriculture is the main source. So we took up 2 major initiatives: Soil conservation - immediately followed by check dams [water conservation]. Local soil & stones are used for these twin programs. This year 15 check dams [total 550] have been built and 30 old dams repaired..About 70 villages have been covered under water conservation benefiting around 900 families and bringing about 2000 hectares of fellow land under cultivation. This year 10 more villages are covered , benefitting 235 farmers. In 3 programs of wells, dams and soil conservation 80,000 kg rice is distributed as 50 % remuneration. The support for it came from 3 NGOS. For minor irrigation 15 e. motors have been given at half the price. The people's participation is nicely developed. Nothing is for free and there is no government support in any program. This is the unique feature of the project.

Other Programs
One important program connected to agriculture production is of male - buffaloes. This year 300 animals have been given to 150 families at their hamlets. Van Path is getting animals free. 50 % for transportation [by trucks] cost is a donation. The rest nominal price is taken from the beneficiaries. So far 5000 animals have been distributed to 2500 families. Next year the program will be intensified. Another successful program is mango plantation. This year 5000 mango plants are distributed at half the price at the door - steps of the people. So far 135000 plants have been distributed. Total support came exclusively from Tuff in last 2 decades and is continuing. Some Rotary Clubs have joined hands in last 2 years. Tuff sent a group for taking a video film. A new thrust is in progress to open purchase depots in countryside, where people could sell their mangoes at better price. The same will be transported to various parts of India for getting good price. [First Depot just started with good result]. Improved varieties of seeds are being given at half the cost every year. 27 water storage PVC tanks have been given to most needy families. Providing roof tiles to the families who could not cover the whole roof is a new addition. In last 2 years 180 families were given 90000 tiles [500 each] at half the price at their door - steps. Recently 23 more families have been given 500 tiles each [11500 tile]. 

Conclusion 
When we entered this zone 3 decades ago, practically no schools were functioning. Today almost every child goes to school. There isremarkable change in economic scenario as well. We are highly grateful to all our overseas & Indian supporters. This so - called dark zone has a bright future.
[Please visit the website www.dharampurproject.com for more information. May go through our 3 monthly bulletins.]                                                          
                                                                                                             bhikhuvyas@gmail.com



NEWS BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA
                             [October – November – December : 2015]
                                             Congratulations : Ake Sandin
During last more than 3 decades I had so many opportunities to be interviewed by you on Radio Tuff. Radio Tuff kindly gave me many roses - can become a garland. That apart, your first visit of Vedchhi [Borakhadi] area in 1980 is so live in my memory. What a flow of support from Tuff that followed your visit all these years [35], without a break! As the Swedish Sister Schools were at the forefront, that added sweet smell in the operation & cooperation.
 
More important was your visit of Dhrampur, when we were just putting our first steps in this poorest [those days, dark zone] block - surrounded by challenging logistics. With generous contribution of SIDA for first 10 years and continuation of support of Tuff [when SIDA withdrew, according to their rules] till today, the schools & other welfare programs have flourished. Tuff was our only supporter during this initial decade. Tuff and so many activists like you have played vital role in our modest efforts. ,. 
Finally, I must tell you that Dharampur Project [schools & other welfare programs] could happen, survive and grow with the generous and constant support of Tuff. Of course, other Indian well - wishers joined hands later on and their support went on increasing. Many of them were highly impressed by Tuff [involvement of schools in particular] support
 
[From a letter to Ake when I learnt that he was given an AWARD  from the organisation Tyresö närradioförening;for his 30 years of non – stop work for Radio Tuff- Response of Tuff activist Lisa : ‘I am sure that your words mean as much for him as the award.  He deserved it so much’
Jaya & Chandrasekaran from Sweden
The couple paid a visit of Dharampur a few days ago. They are from India settled in Sweden since last 4 decades. We met her in one Sister School where her daughter [?] was studying. She is in touch with Ake. Jaya knew Tuff very well and appreciates the efforts being carried out by Tuff team for poor students of Dharampur [also elsewhere]. They visited two schools in Dharampur and moved in the villages. After reaching Chennai [their native in India] she narrated her positive impressions and contributed Rs100000 for Dharampur Project. Grateful.
      D H A R A M P U R - P R O J E CT  : O V E R V I EW : 2015                                                                   
The visit followed by some sort of planning was initiated in Dharampur & Kaprada Block during 1986 - 87. After broad survey, actual work was started in 1988 in this hilly-forest region, having 231 villages - amidst challenging logistics. There are more than half a million tribals [95 % of the total population] – most of them living 'Below Poverty Line'. For long this remote block remained untouched by mainstream development. Education became our entry point - making big strides, year after year. During our rounds we observed abject poverty all around. Hence were added socio-economic welfare programs as well. The project gradually took a holistic shape. 
 
After education, the focus is on soil – water & forest conservation, where community participation & contribution [mainly in form of labour [cash in few programs] is a must. The project now touches the life of around 125 scattered villages, covering 125000 people, with a budget of around one and a quarter million rupees. As we found many villages facing acute drinking water problem in summer months, it required our urgent attention. As per our established pattern, the beneficiaries first located the spots. Then they were asked to dig wells as their labour contribution. The project provided construction material etc. on the spot..
 
About 50 % of the population used to migrate towards cities from February/March onwards. So we took up programs which generated sustainable economic growth, with focus on employment & production. The area having no industries and infrastructure worth the name, agriculture was the only source of economy. So we first started soil – bunding program to preserve soil. It was followed by mud - stone check – dams for rain water conservation. In these twin programs there is 50 % labour contribution of the community. The rest 50 % wages are paid in form of food – grains. Ample raw material [stones] is available around the dam sites. So in this program everything is local. Most of the dams are in good condition. We started repairing the damaged ones last year on 50 % principle. The process is continuing this year. To hasten the repairing and digging dipper, last year JCB machine was used for the first time. It will be used in future also, where ever badly required. 
 
These twin programs played vital role in increasing production of food grains, vegetables and fruits. Minor irrigation and better seeds etc. were added by and by. On account of building soil – bunds new fields have been carved out – adding food production on an increasing scale. Also were given oil – engines & e. motors [with other accessories] mainly for growing vegetables as a second crop. Water harvesting tanks also were built with community support and PVC tanks were given for storage of water. The climate for mango is very suitable here. Hence mango saplings are being given [at half the cost] at the door - steps of the community, from the very start of the project. So the production of mangoes has increased considerably. After learning about the remarkable concentration of mango crop and success of the program in this block, one NGO has started infusing science and organizing marketing last year. 
 
So now this is sort of composite project – assembling many inputs to develop agriculture – the main and only source of livelihood. To some extent it has stopped migration, as the employment at local level is increasing by and by. The modest achievements as mentioned separately [www.dharampurproject.com] became possible [without any govt. aid] mainly on account of the participation of the community, support of Tuff [Sweden] from day one [exclusive for the first decade] and generous donations from many a well - wishers as well as human resource support [mainly teachers & friendly NGOS] for our schools.
 
'Van Path' has worked out ‘Five - Year Plan’ on the basis of the past experience. We follow the plan, depending upon the availability of funds. To sum up, the project is concentrating on 2 key issues: Education & Economy. We are proceeding with hope, to change the landscape of this large invisible block, more importantly - to improve the standard of life & quality of living of the society.
[Summary]
 
Re. Rakeshbhai Zaveri in Tamachhadi
The mentor of Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram of Dharampur respected Rakeshbhai Zaveri visited Shrimad Rajchandra Primary School in Tamacchhadi. He attended joint gathering of both the schools. He took a round of the school, visited new 5 - rooms complex on the river bank built with total support of the Ashram. Re Rakeshbhai took lunch with us. The primary school and our high school [with hostels] - situated a few yards away - both are fully financed by the Ashram. A group of volunteers from the Ashram regularly visits the school for extra coaching. 'Van Path' is highly grateful for all the support and wonderful cooperation.
 
‘Chhanydo’ of Surat to take over Virekshetra Hostel - School
Since last 2 decades VPSS is running a hostel school in Virakshetra village in very remote part of poorest Kaprada Block. There were 110 students in grades 4 - 5 - 6 - 7. The govt primary school is a few yards away. The students attended the school, staying in the hostel. Over and above some coaching, the additional activities like sports - songs - gardening etc, were undertaken. Looking to the spread of education in the vicinity and due to geographic distance; VPSS decided to close the school from the next year. Fortunately the same Surat group who has adopted the cluster is coming forward to take over our Chhatrashala by reputed NGO of Surat 'Chhanyado'. They are planning its expansion, finally to develop it as a Model School Complex in Virekshetra or in some nearby village. That is most welcome and a great advancement. VPSS has agreed with their nice proposal of 'Change Over'. From next June Chhanyado will run the School. They are just starting renovation.
.
Surat Students work for Dharampur Students
 20 friends from Surat met our 750 students in 3 different schools. The beauty is in the direct involvement in our schools by 12th grade students. They collected a truck load of ready - made clothes, blankets etc. moving in the societies of Surat city. They were distributed in schools and around. The students were motivated by the Surat group who has joined hands with us. .
 
Remote Connection
The visit of our friends from London [native of Valod] deserves special mention. Though it was sort of social visit, it has a nice background. When we started our public life [activities] in Valod through ‘Students’ Union’ seven decades ago, a dynamic youngster led us. Finally it shaped as a movement. We were just high school [9th/10th] students at that time. This is how we began. Later on he went to UK for further studies, started his business there and settled in London. He died about three months ago in London. His family wanted to perform the last rites in the river at Valod. So the family came here all the way from London. They used to visit Dhrampur also. These friends did visit Bilpudi as well. The gentleman [now late] regularly and proudly followed Dharampur progress. He supported an ex - student of our school who is now studying in an Engineering College in a distant University. The family inquired about it. They are going to continue support, till the boy gets his final degree 
 
Exemplary Case of an Ex - Student
Satish was a student of one of our hostel – schools [primary] started about 2.5 decades ago. He joined her mother to Bilpudi to request additional support for her sister [again an ex – student]. She is now doing bachelor of Rural Studies [graduation], with the support of the project. The boy casually mentioned how he started his schooling and completed Engineering Degree, finding support and getting scholarships, as he is very bright. He now wants to do M.E. [Masters’ in Mechanical Engineering] and requires support, which he obviously will get. He has written a note:
 
‘I cannot get support from my family. They are very poor. My father is suffering from T.B. He is a farm labourer, but unable to work. My mother has two cows. We survive only on that income. My sister [our ex - student] is studying in one Gandhian University [mentioned above]. My brother is studying in 12th Science and little sister is in 9tth [means all studying].They are getting good ranks in their respective schools’. His documents reveal as follows: 
 
{a] SSC [10th] First rank in the school - 83.5 marks [b] HSC [12th] second rank in the school - 73% marks] [c] B. E. first class
 
Seminar : Emerging Education
 
We attended a seminar of NGOS of Gujarat, organized by Tarsadia Foundation. The same foundation has appointed one extra teacher in 70 govt. primary schools in remote villages of kaprada Taluka [originally part of Dharampur] to guide and motivate small kids, when they are making just the start. The Foundation is as well executing many other livelihood and experimental programs. For example they are distributing mango plants and supporting several agricultural programs [check dams - wells - seeds etc.]. Their entry in this invisible block is a land mark for the poor society. About two years back the trustees approached us, learning about our work. We moved with them. Finally when they decided to involve in a big way [as is their style] our trust loaned our senior worker for the first two years. The Foundation is now in take - off stage, working independently.
 
[Reference in past N. Letters]
 
Exciting Experience
 
Dharampur is very fortunate. We have never to worry for finance as the project is getting very good support from our well - wishers. We have promises and they always are fulfilled. But this year some donations were delayed and it became uncertain in one case. The very next week one fine morning I got an unexpected call from a lover [Bombay] of Dharampur. It was simply direct: ’We are not getting any request. If there are urgent needs, let us know’ Our pressure was released. I spoke to him about the crisis. Then there was not a word from him for a week.  Our bankers informed that RS 1111111 has been credited in the trust account. I could not believe the words. The donation was for all our urgent needs. Girls’ Hostel [full support for 67 girls, rector etc.] – 15 e. motors [50 %] for farmers who have water. They intend to take second crop - repairs of old check dams     .
 
Film on Dharampur
A group of film – makers plans to make a full - length film [Gujarati] about day - to - day life of the community and progress in Dharampur. We moved with the group in the area with our tribal workers. I was interviewed by the team to start with. It is an ambitious project and will take time.
 
Surat Group to cover still interior Villages
The well – wishers of Dharampur [more Kaprada] Shree Omprakash Tuneja & Shree Ramjibhai Chandak  from Surat visited Bilpudi for a day, to work out future development programs and strategy for Vierkshetra communities. Earlier we casually visited with them some new villages. Their commitment has no bounds. Seeing these remote villages and learning about their plight [they are poorer and unseen], they now want to focus on this cluster of 10 villages. After monsoon 5 wells [more to follow] are being sunk. 5 check dams are being constructed in the cluster. Seeds & tiles distribution [50 % support] to the most needy families – having no proper shelters are on. Their nutrition program for new - born children / mothers [benefitting 300 poorest women] is very much on. They provide quality snacks every fortnightly [details in past Bulletins]. The beauty of their involvement is that the seniors not only support financially [generously], but are as well active in planning programs and execution of them at the grass roots. Surat Group is a great hope for the poorer Kaprada villages.
 
More development in Kaprada
Another Foundation is very active in Dharampur Block [Bardoli]. They are executing several development programs and making experiments. Van Path cooperates with the group where found essential. The dramatic beginning of their involvement and selecting of the cluster is narrated in past N. Bulletins and could be found on our www.dharampurproject.com web.
 
                                A Video for Dharampur
 
A team from Times Now T. V. channel took a short video film as a follow up of an article [see last Bulletin].Link: .
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3dO6Rldyss&index=2&list=PLAQGzpyU01aH1ijQgbc4luK0T3aFcfCzG\
 
                                       News In Brief
 
·         35 students of 10th grade stayed with us in the G. Hostel and 30 stayed in Shree Rajchanra Gurukul. Special coaching classes were organised there for a week English and other special subjects. 5 experts taught them.
·         A group of 20 parents - teachers experimenting home - schooling [not sending their kids to the normal schools] visited some of our schools and around. We shared our views with the parents about their bold experiment.
·           A group of 9 workers from one Gandhian University [Lok  Bharati] visited our schools. They are old friends [age - 75/80] of Koki. Some 40 years back she worked with them in Lok Bharati.
·          300 blankets and other clothes, as well as food grain kits were distributed in this winter season by several NGOS and well – wishers. Our coordinators joined them during the distribution. 
·          The students of 10th had a trip of Bombay. It was managed and totally financed by Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram
·          58 Girls' of the G. Hostel and from Vaghval High School had a 4 - days study trip of Katchha, by a special bus.
·          Received 500 books for our primary schools by a book - lover NGO
·          2 more girls got admission in T & T V. School of Nursing [Surat]. The trustees kindly offered tuition fees & hostel fees.
·          One professor of English from a college stayed for 2 days and gave coaching in English to our 8th/9th/10th graders. .
·          An ex - student of Vananchal  School [Chandvagan] passed SSC exam in first class. Then he fell ill and hence could not continue his study. He is so bright that he has been selected as a teacher of science & maths in the same school
                          VEDCHHI PRADESH SEVA SAMITi : Udyogwadi – Valod : 394640 : D. Tapi
&
VANPATH – BILPUDI [T. DHARAMPUR] : Mo. No. 9429885232 & 9429871070





NEWS BULLETIN: DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA 2015: 
 May - June - July - August - September     
                                                                  
Introduction : E – Learning
We have initiated a new program [Pilot Project] in the direction of e - learning in 2 schools. The results are rather encouraging. Looking to the initial response from the students & teachers, we are planning to cover rest of the schools, on the same lines. E - learning has enhanced and made easy the learning & teaching process. Each subject is taught in the presence of subject teacher - chapter by chapter - through E - Books. The question – answer based on e – learning for revision is followed.  E-Books provide an interactive and multi-sensory environment that allows children to freely interact with the text and illustrations. E-Books are installed on tablets [cassettes] for 8th, 9th and 10th grades in both our high - schools. We are now planning to add more tablets so that they could be used in smaller groups. One NGO of Surat is providing computers, tablets and other such requirements. Ake from Tuff has also asked to suggest a small project [sent] for a junior primary school, where the kids of one Tuff member Natasa are studying. She attended one of the Sister – Schools who worked for Dharampur schools [OODW]. She is trying to involve the J. Primary School to join Sister – School cooperation. Good and great.

New Initiative : Involving Guardians
A new initiative is in progress. After two - monthly tests in all the schools, the subject - wise results are assessed and cross - checked. Those who are found lacking in minimum standard are asked to come to Bilpudi G. Hostel, accompanied by their father or mother or both. All the concerned parents are informed in writing to take things seriously. The purpose is to make them aware about the performances of their kids in the school and involve them. Very many guardians arrived all the way to Bilpudi from remote hilly – forest villages. For the first time this type of one to one approach has been initiated. We found it rather fruitful. Those who could are asked to teach at home, when the kids initiate learning [mainly reading & writing] and keep watch in general. Now they [mainly fathers] are literate in fairly good numbers - as this is the second generation which is attending schools. We consider parents’ involvement vital in study – progress of the kids in particular and their overall behavior in general. This is we call all – round development of the students.  

Girls’ Hostel
Eight years ago ‘Van Path’ started a hostel in Bilpudi – close to Dharampur for the tribal girls of remote hilly – forest villages. It is meant for Higher Secondary [11/12] education. In country side there were no such schools at that time. Of course, since last 2 years few schools are opened. So far more than 250 girls could continue further study in different subjects in the University or courses in higher education, on account of the hostel facility.

 A poor tribal family donated half a hectare of prime land, amidst picturesque nature. One kind well - wisher gave donation for all the buildings and infrastructure. Now 67 girls are accommodated in the hostel. They include 2 girls of the new Science College [Attached to University] started in Dharampur. There are no servants

 [2]
in the hostel – without walls, accept one cook. The girls manage all the work by themselves and take care of the premises, having a beautiful garden; as we want them to inherit values & aesthetic test. The girls attend Arts & Science Higher Secondary Schools, close to the hostel.  The tribal donor of the land has his agricultural farm adjoining the hostel. Occasionally the girls help them in agricultural operations. The farmer is now cultivating different vegetables as the old well in the farm has been repaired and deepened [Tuff – support]. A drip irrigation scheme has been fixed with the government subsidy [75 %] and matching contribution [25%] provided by ‘Van Path’. The hostel now has a comfortable Guest House, built with the support [half a million rupees] of TUFF. It was inaugurated by the president of Tuff – Sylvia, in last January

 Higher Education
Now we are fast reaching to a stage when all the students [their parents] who pass 12th want to go for University – preferably science. The following students [from the hostel and originally from 2 of our high schools] have joined higher courses:  
 27 students joined Diploma Engineering College at a town some 300 km from Dharampur. For the first time there is no financial backing of the project for such a big number. The Trust running the college even arranged for transport from Dharampur to the college town. Being tribals the education is free.  Over and above that, the students will get government scholarships. The hostel expenditure will be managed by the Trust [partly from scholarships]. For the first time the guardians of the students and the project did not have to pay anything when they join the college. It was not the case all the years, till now. A big part of the hostel fees was paid [partly from Tuff funds] by the project.  11 of our past students have joined Science Colleges on their own, as this year 3 more colleges are opened in nearby towns. 2 girls have joined Nursing in Surat [concession in hostel fees and free education] and 2 more girls have taken up Rural Re –Construction subject. Their college is situated some 600 km away. 1 boy has taken up computer engineering. One girl is doing B.Ed, for becoming a high school teacher. 1 boy is doing masters’ in sociology [in Ahmedabad] and 4 students have joined I. I. T. in Dharampur. Few students who joined higher courses earlier are being partially supported. Total number of such students [in last 5 years] has crossed 120.  
Some of the students who finished their higher education have got jobs - mainly in NGOS in and around Dharampur. One student who did M.E. in Computer Engineering is working as a teacher in one of our high schools. It is a great relief that the financial burden for higher education is much less this year. It is our broad observation that the parents are now keen [even to spend for higher studies] for the education of their kids and the economy is gradually improving. A big contrast, when we compare it with the time, when we started schools in this cluster.

One More Video : Dharampur Project
Shooting of Dharampur Schools & Development Programs was conducted by a team of  ‘Times Now’ T.V. Chanel.  Earlier an article about us & Dharampur appeared on the following link: The video was the follow – up of this article.
http://www.thebetterindia.com/12683/man-made-promise-never-leave-village-pretty-inspiring-bhikhubhai-vyas-gujarat/

[3]
Training Camp         
 One training Institute conducted 3 days Training Camp of 108 students & 8 teachers of our 5 Primary Schools in Tamachhadi School. The camp was conducted on self – learning method and activities by students. They created models of train, airplane etc.   Finally the students conducted children’s fair which was managed by the students. The focus was on geography and practical study of human body. The medium of education by and large was sports, drawings and several educational activities like preparing charts – maps [done by students] related to the subjects of the curriculum.

Monthly Meetings
Every month a meeting of all the teachers is held in Bilpudi The focus is on quality education and sustained progress. All the teachers bring written reports. It turns out a training camp for the teachers. The administrative & practical work is a small part of the meet.
Sports Material for all the Schools 
One Trust provided sport items for all our Pr. Schools, High Schools and Girls’ Hostel. The items included volleyballs - footballs – carom boards, throw balls, badminton & other minor sports. Additionally they donated 6 HP Desktops, 6   UPS & 6 Speakers [needed for the computers earlier provided by the Trust], 175 writing desks & 20 Recks . The cost comes close to half a million rupees.

                                                ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Survey  &  Awards
During last 2 years several programs were effectively conducted on holistic lines [our approach] in remote Virekshetr cluster of [20 villages [report s in earlier Bulletins] with the support of Surat group. They have adopted this cluster. It is some 90 km from Bilpudi. The group is keen to expand the programs in still farther villages [of Kaparada] - deep on the border of Maharashtra. The survey is just over in 10 such villages which remained untouched from main – stream development. The best part of this process is that the donors are directly involved in the field work. 2 of them visited the cluster and then we discussed with them the programs to be started after monsoon  They are associated with reputed NGO ‘Chhayado’ of Surat. This NGO nicely supports our work. They as well provide excellent support for pregnant women and lactating mothers [290] in their adopted [poorest] cluster as well as quality snacks [every 15 days] for all our schools in Dharampur & Kaparada Talukas. As a policy “Van Path” is not continuing development programs [as before] in the villages which according to our norms are on way to economic progress. So we are gradually withdrawing from that cluster and redirecting our efforts and resources in the new cluster further from Virekshetra. Chhaydo organized an impressive function in Surat to give away an award for Dharampur work to Kokila Vyas. Bhikhu Vyas chaired a function organized by Sandipani School in Indore to give awards to 11 best teachers of M. P. State He was as well given an award.
Check – Dams & Soil – Bunding
It seems the soil - bunding and more so check – dams programs have reached to a saturation point. Considerable increase is taking place in agricultural products. Distribution of male – buffaloes, more wells & ]

[4]
introduction of better variety seeds as well as introduction of new crops also played a vital role for this to happen. In next phase [after monsoon] rather than going for more dams, would concentrate on repairing and deepening the old ones with JCB machines as well as manually. Wonderful expansion in mango plantation and availability of more jobs in the neighboring industrial belt is fast changing the employment scenario. The picture was very dark in the first decade of the project. So there is diminishing demand of check – dams in particular. Any way 12 new check – dams have been constructed. We have now reached to 540 mud - stone check dams. The monsoon was rather weak [65 % of normal rain] this season and irregular, resulting in intermittent dry – spells. The farmers around the dams could save their standing crop of paddy – may be around 500 hectares. It is estimated that about 20 hectares of new soil has been reclaimed during the season on account of the soil – bunding program. Light paddy has been grown in these new fields. Next year the fields will take normal shape with better variety paddy crop. One important benefit in this water scarcity belt is that these twin programs are making positive impact in recharging wells and providing drinking water for cattle in summer. 6 new wells have been constructed - the number crossing 250. The workers [on the dams & for bunding] got 40000 kg rice [on 50 % basis], at the door – steps as their remuneration. 4 new wells have been constructed [Total 254]. The digging & labor work was done by the beneficiaries, as is our normal pattern.

                                                NEWS IN BRIEFF

100 woolen blankets have been received from a Bombay –based Trust.

Library - books worth RS 50000 purchased for the schools.  

Our Girijan Primary School at Vankhas [supported by Tuff] got an opportunity to avail of the services [honorary] of an expert trainer and researcher in English. The experiment is found to be a success, studying the exhaustive report of the expert. The other schools will follow suit.

A survey is on for the construction of latrines. The important component is govt. subsidy to the families having no latrines. Once the families are identified and found to be motivated, we will start the latrine – construction program in the beginning of 2016. The labor will be provided by the beneficiaries and remaining funds will be provided by the project [over and above govt. subsidy].

20 volunteer teachers [subject experts] visited our schools and took lessons in different  subjects. One of them is a regular visiting teacher. She gives lessons by self – learning method and generally through activities – keeping students involved..

A new jeep has been purchased with the total support of ‘Friends of Dharampur’ group of Bombay.

7500 mango plants were given at half the price. Total 135000 plants are given so far with exclusive support of TUFF.

2500 special bamboo saplings are given at half the price. This is to introduce new species in this forest block.

3000 forest tree saplings were distributed free to those who got mango plants. This is to promote forest cover.

100  more male – buffaloes have been distributed at the door steps of the community [Total so far : 5000]

The neighboring district Govt. official discussed with us our holistic approach It was followed by the visit of the area by 2 govt. officers. Then our senior coordinator visited the area. They want to follow our community – oriented strategy.
Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.                                                                   H. Jackson Brown

 
NEWS BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA  2015: January – February – March - April 

TUFF SENIORS IN DHARAMPUR & VALOD COMMUNES
The chair lady of Tuff, 2 seniors & 1 enthusiastic youngster visited schools & other development programs in Dharampur. They as well visited schools around Valod. They were supported by tuff, before the shift to Dharampuer. High lights of one week trip:
Inauguration of ‘Tuff Guest House’ in Bilpudi. It became possible from Tuff support [savings]. The group camped there. They had an opportunity to mix with the girls in ‘Margaetha Square’ as also had a look at ‘Peterssons' Reading Room’ there.  
They started the field trip with a visit of a successful model of agricultural development. Mainly they visited the following there:
[1] Second crop of different vegetables. This is the result of irrigation pumps – wells - check dams, better seeds and mail - buffaloes etc. All these programs are being supported since long by the project. Here either 40 to 50 % is labour or cash contribution of the community.
[2] Introduction of moisture [winter] crop of black grams  [cereals]  and new variety of paddy [the main crop of the area] All this made a positive impact on food – grains production.
[3] New and old mango trees - spread out in a large area at various stages of growth [4] Soil – Bunding which created new fields. It made possible the expansion in area of agricultural crops.
[4] Visited a remote [farthest] cluster. It surrounds our Virekshetra School. It is the farthest & poorest block of Kaprada Commune, adopted since last two years by Surat group. The programs visited there were as follows:

  • 1 check - dam now being used for constructing bricks. Under the govt. scheme several families have got financial support to construct new brick houses with 25% share of the beneficiaries. The poor tribal families have manufactured 200000 bricks with the help of water [dam], as their matching contribution. Total 400000 bricks have been constructed on the same lines in different villages on account of dams. The farmers around this dam grow vegetables as a second crop.
  • Visited one more check – dam, constructed mainly for drinking water for cattle and partly for vegetable crops. The group also saw how the check dam is constructed & how soil - bunding is done, to store water & save soil
  • Packed food nourishment distribution program for the women with new babies [also pregnant women in other hamlets] – supported by Surat group.
  • They also saw new crop of special potato introduced last year and onion being grown as the third crop from dam water  There they had a rare [pre – season] chance of seeing mango tree with mangoes hanging on. It was quite an excitement.

[5] They as well visited Vananchal Primary School at Chandvagan, having also Robert Library there. By chance they were witness to the distribution of daily needs to 300 poorest families of 7 villages surrounding the school. This is what   we call the school as the centre of community development.
[6] They were in Primary & Secondary Schools of Tamachhadi and saw Cultural program, Exhibition, Computer Class using educational CD, Bore Wells supported by one Kumla cleaning lady and 5 new rooms under construction [now ready]. While returning to the base camp they had a look at self - employed automobile repair shop by our ex – student. He was trained under vocational training program and 50 % project support to start the shop.
[7] They as well visited Vaghval School where ‘Bengt Girls’ Hostel’ has been constructed, last year. Close to the school was a reservoir [result of the  dam], with several vegetable gardens, in the vicinity.
 [8] As the last leg of Dharampur Block trip the group visited the oldest Tuff – supported project Khanda Residential Primary School - Tuff Well - 15 year old project of engine & irrigation at one village on top of the hil, with good vegetable crops.
On way from Dharampur to Valod [starting point of Tuff – VPSS Cooperation] visited a big Daxinapath School – where there is plaque named Gunnar [late]r. He [and late Margaretha] opened a laboratory and a few class rooms – supported about two decades ago by Tuff. - Visited a Bakery for students, started with initial support of Tuff - Stayed in Tuff Friendship House - Visited Tyreso Commune Teachers' House built long back - They as well Visited Vanashali School Complex. A new hostel for girls for the Gymnasium is coming up there with the support from an Indian well - wisher. The same was built long back with Tuff support and required major repairs. The donor suggested new construction, instead of repairs. Finally they visited Kasturba Ashram in Borakhadi.. Had a look at the very first Tuff Project [34 years ago] - termed as Sweden Hall. [5] Visited Computer Lab there, supported by Tuff.

GREETINGS TO KUMLA SCHOOL FOR ‘OPERATION ONE DAY’
Our students & teachers are very happy to learn that Kumla is organizing ’Operation One Day’ on next 20th for a school named Vananchal in Dharampur County. Vananchal means amidst forest. It is really situated in deep forest in a remote village. Your teachers have visited Vananchal and could better describe all this.  We want to convey our thanks for your concern and commitment, meant to provide an opportunity to the kids of poor communities of our invisible school.
We know that Kumla has a wonderful track record of last more than 3 decades of organizing OOD. At the time of our first visit of Sweden, we were privileged to observe the OOD in action in Kumla. We were so impressed. The memory of petty jobs you were doing and more so the excitement is so fresh in our mind. Kumla is one of the schools, which we have visited without fail, during our several trips of Sweden.    
Kumla has an admirable practice of sending teachers [also few students] to visit your Sister School in Dharampur Block. Of course, most of the students in Kumla may be new and many of your teachers are no more in the school, but the tradition is nicely maintained all these years, without a break. Lisa and some teachers from Kumla who have visited Chandvagen and several other schools [supported by other Swedish Sister Schools] will describe how is Vananchal, its functioning and the area. From the fund your school would generate, we hope to implement the following programs in Vananchal for about 50 students of grades 6 & 7  for one year:
Food expenses – Salary of 2 teachers – Books – Pair of uniform dress - Teaching material - Study trip - Sports material - Health care - Training camps - Mango saplings & Forest trees  [to be given 5 to each student]
With many thanks & Best Wishes

GREETINGS : ULLA CARINA
I am at pains to learn that you are unable to see. The first time we met in 1984 in Kumla Sister School : Running & rushing here & there managing things for OOD. We met & talked a lot during our several visits of Sweden. If my memory is not failing, you are one of the founders of Tuff & pioneers of OOD. What an innovative & practical idea to direct the new generation towards world peace -brotherhood & development in h third - world countries! It was such a nice feeling to enjoy wonderful hospitality at your home.  Again how could we forget your visit of Valod – Borakhadi cluster? Perhaps you joined us in our exploratory visit of Dharampur villages - our focus since last two and a half decades. The idea was just being conceived to start some welfare activities in that invisible and logistically challenging region. I have remote impression that you joined our deliberations
I am sure you must be having a feel of our modest activities, [if not through your physical eyes, through mental perception], supported through Sister - School Cooperation, very well coordinated by Tuff, since pretty long. I have heard that when one of the senses [organs] of the body gets weakened, the rest of the organs become extra strong & alert. Wishing you best of health
[Summarized]

Water Management Project
The preservation of rich soil [bunding] and Check - dams [preservation of water] programs are going on rather well. With addition of 12 new check - dams we are close to 540 figure.  A big Corporate Company kindly made donation of RS 1 million under Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] policy of the government. Now such companies are obliged to support deserving cause from their profit. Dharampur is fortunate to have such a generous corporate support under the head:  Water Management
In retrospect, the modest achievements became possible from Tuff [at initial stage] aid and during last 2 decades from many well – wishers, public charities and the contribution [mainly in form of labour] of the community.. People get employment at their door – steps, resulting in more production, water for the cattle, possibility of second crop, recharging wells and of late - manufacturing bricks. Bricks are offered as people's contribution for the new houses [aided by the govt. for poor]. Soil – bunding is a pairing program. Let us look at the facts & figures of the period under review.

[1] 695 families will benefit from the twin programs [2] As for dams, around 144 farmers will  have the possibility to take second crop of vegetables. [3] There are instances where some resourceful farmers - having water in late winter took the third vegetable crop.[4]  Several short duration crops [eatable leaves] may be taken by some farmers [5] During dry - spells the farmers will be able to save their standing crop of paddy [6] 551 farmers who have joined soil - bunding will reclaim waste land [the only productive resource].  It is estimated that about 40 hectares of new soil will be generated] [8] In the first year after the bunding is executed, soil will start settling. Light paddy may be grown. [9] Next year the new fields will almost take shape - with the possibility of better quality paddy. [10] After 3 years, there will be normal farms [new - additional] where any thing could be grown. [11] This being a paddy - growing area, it is very likely that farmers will grow high - quality paddy.[12] All this will become possible and easy for the farmers, as ‘Van Path’ is arranging quality seeds.  [13] Both programs will make positive impact in recharging surrounding wells [critical problem here]. [14] The workers [on the dam and bunding] will get 53000 kg rice as remuneration. 

The total budget considering donation and labour will come to Rs 2 millions. Great. 

Introducing JCB machines in Water Management Program        

One more land-mark in our journey towards: 'Water Management'. From the broad survey it is found that more than 200 dams [tanks] are filled with mud. The result: Less amount of water could be stored in monsoon. Surat Group [See N. Bulletins] found a solution. JCB machine could remove the silt [fertile soil] and transfer it to agricultural farms or to the dams, under construction. So far we have not used machines in the program and all the dams are constructed manually. Now we have started removing silt with the help of machine. It could work faster & efficiently. The Surat Group is managing and financing JCB program. Only recently we visited machine in action, accompanied by two new well – wishers keenly interested in this particular program. They have decided to support dams and soil – bunding program.  About 50 old C. Dams have been deepened using JCB. A bigger dam on a rivulet [of govt.] has also been deepened.  A record. 

Self Learning: One more Initiative
One educationist interested in Dharampur and known to us wanted to experiment with self - learning in our schools. It was done in two schools. Here is a lteer from one of the principals, who keenly observed the experiment:
The students of 5 to 7 grades remain engrossed in the activity lessons, as guided by the expert. We could see concentration and interest [thinking process] in the students. 3 full units have been done in all the 3 grades, as directed. . Over and above question - answers, new words are researched [identified] by different groups. Then there are question - answers, based on that.  Additionally the students have asked questions on the basis of maps and from the books given to them. This method is proving very effective for the kids. We repeated.22 questions given by the expert, after he left. We are all so anxious to do more such experiments. The students have put forward 50 to 60 questions from the books [not learnt  before] The students remain engrossed in the activity lessons, as guided by the expert. We could see concentration and interest [thinking process] in the students. 3 full units have been done in all the 3 grades, as directed. Over and above question - answers, new words are researched [identified] by different groups. Then there are question - answers, base on that. Additionally the students have asked questions on the basis of maps and from the books given to them. This method is proving very effective for the kids. The 22 questions given by the expert have been divided in the teachers and the students he experiments are on. The students have put forward 50 to 60 questions from the books [not learnt before] 

Calendar :  Drawing by Students
It was one new initiative – publishing a calendar of all the drawings by 6/7/8 grade students. The plan was conceived and executed by an English professor [visiting our schools for teaching] and as well executed by them.  It has been appreciated from many friends here and abroad.. 

LAND – MARK : MANGO PROGRAM
As indicated in last Bu. 2 agricultural scientists & a management expert are busy with a program of introducing science in our mango program, since last 5 months. The systematic training by the agricultural scientists is an excellent opportunity for our illiterate farmers. The trio is making rounds in remote villages. They educate and motivate the farmers to infuse science in mango plantation. Though new and strange, the response of the community is rather encouraging. The practical demonstration by them is proving effective. The farmers have now learnt to prepare organic liquid from cow urine and Nim tree leaves for spraying in the roots etc. They are as well guiding the farmer of the land [donated] in the Hostel [Bilpudi] – having big number of mango trees [thanks to Tuff] One of the scientists camped here for two weeks, for the purpose. The innovation is neither complicated nor expensive. The focus : The production should increase - not only number of trees. Recently initiation of marketing is a big turning point. The training camps of farmers [to cover 1800 families to start with - in several batches] conducted in the beginning became effective at this stage. With marketing being organized by a newly formed agency DISHA, a decisive chapter is added in the mango program - exclusively supported by Tuff in this area, since last 2 decades. During this period, a little over 130000 mango plants have been distributed to the farmers at half the price. It seems the marketing arrangement on way will change the economy of the hilly - forest villages of this remote Block. It was our long - cherished dream of last 20 years. The experts of the agency are doing a good job in this respect at both the ends - Kaprada & Gandhinagar [capital of Gujarat - 350 km from Dharampur] having central marketing depot. Our volunteers are providing valuable support at the ground level. Their good - will and community contact proved so vital in the success of this new chapter [Pl. Visit the last Bulletin]:  Special collection centres have been set up at 4 remote places in Kaparada [having more concentration of the crop] Block. The growers have started carrying mangoes to the nearest centres to sell mangoes it higher price, to be paid on the spot. They will also get some bonus from the profit and services [scientific] for better growth of the trees. In the past they were forced to travel to distant Kaprada [15 km] or Dharampur [30 km] towns with begs of mangoes. Was quite a job. Hundreds of private traders await there for the illiterate farmers – with mango begs. The farmers have no choice but to sell mangoes at whatever price offered to them. They get cheated in weight also. They could not bargain, as they could not return home loaded with begs. There are agents who charge commission [for guiding or misguiding]. Again the farmers would save a day. Now the trucks loaded with quality mangoes would start going to Ahmedabad [Gandhinagar] every day. The group [scientists & management] is active in Dharampur [Also 2 other mango - pockets of Gujarat] The first planning session of all concerned was held in Bilpudi Hostel about 5 months ago, followed by periodical consultations. Initially, the hostel remained their head – quarters for the. Now they have hired an office in Dharampur town - with the fast expansion of the program. They got registered [for Agribusiness Enterprise] - named as DISHA (Dedicated Initiative for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture Private Limited). It is a big step - a jump - landmark   

The consumers will get high quality, naturally ripened and residue-free mangoes of kaprda and other 2 pockets. These direct linkages between producer organizations and consumers will help producers in understanding and better fulfilling the needs of consumers. Gujarat, traditionally the land of famed farmer-owned enterprises like Amul [world famous milk - cooperative federation] is well - known for its spirit of entrepreneurial development.  DISHA is being incorporated to support this very spirit and has been conceptualized by the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (DGIZ - German Agency]. ‘Disha’ [meaning ‘direction’) will provide a platform for long - term development and economic sustainability of local farmer-producers. The process has well started. It  gives us a big hot.

Introducing of Fuel – Saving Stoves
Van Path [Sister NGO of VPSS for Dharampur Block] is just adding a new program for preserving and promoting forest. There are already programs like giving forest tree saplings to our students, to take them home and plant them around, with the help of their parents. This is how school becomes a medium of contacting the guardians [through kids] and educating them about environment [Global warming]. This  what we term as SUSTAINABLE  CHANGE. Now the program being added is distribution of indeginous stoves. For the labour work done by the people, they get food - grains as wages under a set scheme. Along with food - grains, now we are starting distribution of fuel saving stoves at 40 % concession   One Charity Trust has contributed rest 60 % [for 200 stoves – 35 have just been given away]. This is one more land mark for forest preservation and change in the living style [echo – friendly] of the community.

One More Partner from Surat
One more group from Surat [4th one – good] joined hands..They distributed 300 blankets/new clothes in these coldest days of winter and as many kits of food – grains, utensils  and other daily needs [about 20 km bag each] as well as books /note – books and some teaching aids, around our Vananchal School. This environmental group [50  officers/ house – wives]  collected  about Rs 300000 for this program. They camped in the school for a day. The primitive tribe [poorer than normal aborigines] families of 7 villages around Chndvagan were covered under the program. They came by a big bus and brought material in big truck. They had a good time in the school

Fare well to  the Studnts of Final Year
A function of 'Fare Well' to our students [summer vacation started from yesterday] was held as also  assembly of pregnant & lectating mothers, under our nourishment program. A group of 15 supporters from Surat graced the occasion. All the women [about 50] got packed food [special] brought from Surat. They [about 300] get such food every 15 days - at different fixed spots in remote Virekshetra Block. The students also were served snacks - brought by Surat friends.  An ideal combination.  They presented nice dresses to all the students. The Surat Group [frequently referred in N. Bu.s] who joined the MARCH rather late is becoming more active and involved. We think they [and few others like Rajesh & Bhavna] would take over.

Roofing Tiles – Expanding
Last year a small beginning [new] was made [see bulletins] to distribute roofing tiles to the most needy families, in the remote villages of Virekshetra Cluster [Cluster Plan]. After monsoon, a systematic survey was conducted from hamlet to hamlet, to find out more such families. 100 new families desperately needing roofing tiles were listed. They wanted to cover their half - empty roofs. They saved some money; but not enough. So we started a program of providing tiles. Nearly 50000 [500 each] tiles have been distributed at the door steps, The beneficiaries contribute half the price, which finally comes to almost one - third of the original price, as it is free transport in Tuff lorry  This program is proving very attractive to our donors. We think this is a critical need of the families. Normally total roofing action [from grass to tiles] takes 2/3 years. Now that is being done in one go. Those who could not manage tiles cover the roofs [part or whole] with paddy grass. VPSS has never involved in housing program so far. Now we find that tiles is a critical requirement and the poor have not enough money at a time, to purchase required number of tiles, to cover the whole roof. That is why they are compelled to do it slab by slab. The total roofing takes 2/3 years.  Now that is being done in one go for the total roof.                                                            

NEWS IN BRIEF
 Koki attended '10 day total silence camp ' – on Bodhist tradition.100 students of 10th grade visited Delhi - Agra and culture spots around river Ganges.  Or two days friends from Surat made free arrangement for, transport  lodging and boarding through their conatc. In delhi also  one day ‘night stay was arranged with the support of one relo igious boy. The students got  special concession from railways. So this 5days  trip of distat places became ery cheap for the students. On their part they got some govt. Support

A planning and review meeting for schools & non – schools programs was held in Bilpudi, just before may vacation

One person who worked in US and now retired moved in all our schools to get guidance. He is intending to initiate social work in poor communities in his native district [400 km away from here]

7 wells are under construction. The support came mainly from Surat group and few other well - wishers [will cross 260 now] Digging is the contribution of th beneficiaries.

 The exams of SSC [10th] & Gymnasium [12th] are over. 90 students have appeared in the exam.  The local exams of the rest of the schools are over and now has started Summer Vacation [6 weeks

Got donation of 6 new computers, one printer, 6 library cupboards and 250 sitting tables to be used in class rooms

Every 15 days Surat Group sends quality break - fast of different sweets and snacks for all the students of our schools

AN INSPIRING STORY : HIGHER EDUCATION
Dilip completed 12th Science and wanted to become a computer engineer. His father was not in a position to support him. The only fate of the boy was destined to become a farm labor. Getting clue from some friends Dilip approached us. Hearing his story he was given full support for 4 years of graduation. Now he is about to appear for Masters [ME] in computer engineering. He may be the first to reach this level in the tribal society.
After finishing graduation he had an ambition to go for Masters. As the number of our students doing graduation in several faculties was galloping, we were bit hesitant to support him. But he was very firm. He got merit scholarship. He as well gave tution= for to the students. We continued providing support, till he finished his last term of masters.
About a month back when he came for some support, we provided him it as a loan. At that time he politely told us that he is neither going to join government, nor corporate sector. He had decided to work with us in the villages for a year. We were so touched.
During his vacations all the last 4 years, he used to coach our students in H. Schools.  
VEDCHHI PRADESH SEVA SAMITEE : Udyogwadi – Valod : 394640 : D. Tapi
&  VANPATH – BILPUDI [ T. DHARAMPUR] : Mo. No. 9429885232 & 9429871070
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BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA 

 [ September – October – November – December : 2014 ]

 Support From Tuff : Sweden
Tuff Contribution
VPSS received SEK 210000 [RS1700000] from Tuff, mainly for education and as well for bridging support for minor and unexpected requirements in our schools. The amount was collected by organizing OODW in several Swedish Schools. This cooperation move is coordinated by Tuff. Donations also were received by Tuff from kind Swedish individuals, attracted towards MANGO PROGRAM [crossed 130000 plants in last two decades]. It is a pet project exclusively supported by Tuff, all these years. 2 residential primary schools having 205 students are being run from this contribution. The expenditure mainly includes salary, food, teaching aids, books, study/pleasure trip and health - care. 20 students who have joined University and other courses after completing Gymnasium are given partial scholarships from this support. About 25 persons were given help for critical illness. Mango plantation program was conducted in last August [see N. Bu.] From the saving of the last year’s contribution, a Guest House is just ready in Girls’ Hostel at Bilpudi at the cost of SEK 46000. It is fondly and appropriately named : ‘Tuff Guest House’

Tuff Visitors  
2 teachers of Alle School visited totally 6 Pr. & Se. schools as well as 2 hostels in Dhraampur / Kaprada Block. Also 2 schools [old project] around Valod were visited. They as well visited few check – dams [for water storage (for agriculture etc.) as well as bricks making], soil – bunding [for preserving soil] to expansion of land under agriculture and few mango gardens of old trees as well as new plantation. They had a field – trip to observe and understand the success story of irrigation in action. This became possible on account of the composite plan executed since last 5/6 years. The plan included wells, check – dams, soil bunding, better seeds - engines & pipe lines, with poles [50 % cash contribution of the beneficiaries as well as male – buffalos [small bridging project support for the animals]. The labor [50 %] was contributed by the beneficiaries in labor – intensive programs [rest project support], resulting in several vegetable crops and as well second moisture crop. They were fortunate to see a mango tree, with fruits on. They were so keen about it. Fortunately, our supporters from Surat also were present when we moved in Virekshetra Cluster [adopted by them]. Accepting their invitation the group visited their home in Surat for lunch – on way to Bombay. The high – light of the trip was having a look at Bengt Girls’ Hostel in Vaghval School The active supporter of the project Bhavana also joined the group for 2 days. She explained on - going vibrations in education in this corner. She is looking after Higher Education in Universities & other courses for our students. She is as well an expert guide for vocational courses. After Rajesh, Bhavana is another activist lady [also Surat group] – whom the Swedish friends had an opportunity to meet and share views in general as well as development strategies in particular. Good for a study team. It is our impression that the Tuff team has grasped [we tried] our HOLISTIC APPROACH. One of the 2 teachers Jeanette Björnskiöld wrote after reaching home: “The visits to the different schools, hearing all stories and information you have given us were so interesting. We have learnt so much!”

Now there are 2 nice ‘Houses’ in Valod & Dharampur ; Supported by Tuff      

TUFF GUEST HOUSE : BILPUDI [DHARAMPUR]
                                           &
 TUFF FRIENDSHIP HOUSE : VEDCHHI [VALOD]                                                                                       

E D U C A T I O N
Innovative Approach
Former professor of science in a Teachers’ Training College [Gandhi University - Vedchhi] stayed in our Primary & High school at Tamachhadi & Vaghaval for 10 days. He wanted to experiment with an innovative method of self – learning, mainly in primary schools. The response was rather encouraging. The students were asked to go through new chapters [not studied]. They did grasp well and found out by themselves answers of some topics from the attachments, incorporated in the text - books. Then they asked questions of the points they could not follow. Furthermore they were asked to pinpoint difficult words. Only then the professor gave them guidance and took up new lessons, with lot of home work. He as well taught science in both the high schools. He brought with him equipments, charts, maps and reference books all the way from Ahmedabad. He as well gave home work in both schools, to be followed during his next visit, after 6 weeks. For that also he asked the concerned teachers to get questions from the students and send them to him, in advance. That is followed satisfactorily [as below] by the teachers of both the schools. The exhaustive list of questions from the students and difficult topics from the teachers have been sent to him. He will base his lessons on that material. The focuse is on self – learning & accelerate thought – process. He is as well planning to celebrate 'International Science Day' in both the schools [also to invite surrounding pr. Schools] on 28th of February. He will revisit schools 2 days beforehand for guidance & preparations for the DAY. Our schools are highly benefited by the innovative & experimental method adopted by the professor.

RESPONSE  FROM  THE SCHOOLS            
[Summary translation from a letter from Tamachhadi School] 
The students of 5 to 7 grades remain engrossed in the activity lessons, as guided by Pro. Vasantbhai. We could see concentration and interest [thinking process] in the students. 3 full units have been done in all the 3 grades, as directed by him. Over and above question - answers, new words are researched [identified] by different groups. Then there are question - answers, based on that. Additionally the students have asked questions on the basis of maps and from the books given to them. This method is proving very effective for the kids. The experiments are on.

The same is followed in high school. The letter from Vaghval School is almost on the same lines. The students have put forward 50 to 60 questions from the books [not learnt before] and sent them to the professor - as wanted by him.  

It is my impression that the teachers have grasped and liked the method of self - learning 

Involvement in Govt. Pr. Schools

The latest initiative is to strengthen few government primary schools, as an experiment [explained in last News Bu.].The beginning is made in a few schools where there are less number of teachers than required. As is our present policy, we prefer independent implementation – without our direct involvement. Accordingly 2 friendly groups are trying their best to improve quality of education in about 40 [25 + 15] schools – in grades 1 – 2, to start with. These enthusiastic friends will gain experience in coming months and will finalize the 'Action Plan' in future, accordingly.

Quality Education
We now have an experienced and qualified supervisor for the schools. He keeps on moving in the schools one by one, to watch the performance and to guide the teachers as well as the students. There is a regular monthly meeting of senior teachers in Bilpudi. His report is discussed there and follow up action – plan framed. This is a good addition after pretty long wait and search.
North Indian Trip
A 5 days tour of 100 students of10th [final grade of High School] and 8 teachers from Tamachhadi & Vaghval was conducted. They visited Delhi – Agra [Taj] – Mathura and several pilgrim as well as tourist places around river Ganges. The Surat group has nice contacts in that area. So the students got free accommodation & food for 2 days and nice hospitality [guidance]. It was the most enjoyable and memorable trip for the students. They have hardly seen any thing out side their small area.

Training & Coaching
Two training camps were attended by teachers. There were 4 special coaching camps of different grades in G. Hostel – Bilpudi. Under the quality improvement Project by another NGO the director of the project participated in two sessions                                     

D E V E L O P M E N T
Expanding Tiles Program
Our new and enthusiastic donors from Surat  visit almost every month the remote villages [Virekshetra Cluster, around our hostel - school], adopted by them. We join them off and on and the VPSS team of 4 community workers executes the programs. Just before monsoon [June – 2014] a small beginning was made to distribute roofing tiles to 37 most needy families [For back ground story– See last N. Bu.]. After monsoon, survey was conducted in 25 villages, to find out more needy families. About 100 such families have been listed in the first phase to cover the roofs which remained partially without tiles. The process is on. These families had saved some money for tiles; but it was not enough.  Distribution has started to provide 50000 tiles at the door steps of the people [maximum 500 tiles to one family]. The beneficiaries contribute half the price, which finally comes to almost one - third of the normal price. Transportation is provided free. For that Tuff lorry proved very useful. The program has proved most attractive. In absence of such support, the total roofing takes 2/3 years. Now the beneficiaries  will not have to cover the roofs with paddy grass every year, before monsoon. This program will expand with more and more demands coming from the community, as this is their critical need. We are getting generation donations from Surat group for this program. Normally the total roofing takes 2/3 years. Now that is being done in one go. In absence of tiles, the people usually cover the roofs [part or whole] with paddy grass [known as thatched roof] every year, before monsoon.

Nourishment Plan for Women
One more nourishment program is for pregnant women and mothers with new - born kids. [see last Bu.] Now 350 women are covered under the program in this cluster. They get special food every 15 days in their hamlets, as also health guidance from experts. One item is now being added. That is of growing leafy vegetables, as a supplement

Head – Way : Tarsadia Foundation
The exciting story of the chance visit of the president of the foundation is narrated in earlier bulletins. The president of the Foundation [Bardoli & US] Mr. B. K. Patel visited Bilpudi for overview of the programs admirably handled by the Foundation in a remote cluster of Kaprada Block and to share views on development strategy followed by them and to discuss new programs. About 25 poor villages are adopted by the Foundation [see last 2 bulletins]. They are executing effectively the proven programs [executed so far], with some new innovations and additions. Importantly, to concentrate on development of the villages that they have adopted, this Foundation has started an office in Kaprada town. It is of great practical use to VPSS / Van Path and other sister NGOS, mainly meetings.

New Initiative – Agricultural Programs
The check dams program will take a pause, by and large. The soil – bunding, repairing dams and construction of new wells [also repairs of old ones] is about to start [in the beginning of 2015] A fresh initiative is to be undertaken shortly. For the first time in last 2 decades [since check dams program was initiated] JCB machines are to be used for deepening the existing lakes, for more storage of water. The survey is completed by now. The Surat Group [who is to finance this program] visited a few spots to decide from where to start and to work out the schedule – to finish work before monsoon. For second [winter] crop seeds worth SEK 32000 provided [50 % of cost].

One More Partner
One more group from Surat [4th one] joined hands with us. They distributed 300 blankets/new clothes in these coldest days of winter and as many kits of food – grains, utensils  and other daily needs [about 20 km bag each] as well as books /note – books and teaching aids [to the students], around our Vananchal School. This environmental group [50 officers/ house – wives] collected about Rs 300000 [SEK 35000] for this program. They camped in the school for a day. The primitive tribe [poorer than normal aborigines] families of 7 villages around Chndvagan were covered under the kit – distribution program. The Surat friends came by a big bus and brought material in large quantity in big truck. Though we are always face - to face with poor in most of the villages that we visit off & on in our regular rounds, but the people to whom we met that day - in the first week of 20015 were perhaps below the bottom - line of poverty. The Surat friends had a good day in Chandvagan School. By chance a group of Tuff friends [including Tuff president] were with us, during the distribution. [Detailed report about their visit [first week of 2015] of Dharampur Block : In the next Bulletin.]

Science in Mango – Plantation
One innovative program has been initiated to introduce science in mango plantation It is to be followed by better marketing. It is totally a new concept for the community, but they have grasped the worth of it, according to their initial response. 2 expert scientists from one Sister NGO visited farmers in groups and mango gardens – in the field. They have selected some spots with compact plantation. They are now moving to guide the farmers and spread this novel idea. The idea is conceived by one 'German Cooperation' [DEUTSCHE ZUSAMMENARBEIT] and also financed by them. The NGO selected by the agency will manage everything, with the help of our field staff and in our cooperation. One NGO suggested them to involve in Dharampur in our massive mango program. Their objective is to make mango plantation more science - based, with a focus to increase production and organize better marketing.  

One of our workers was sent for two day training. So far 3 of our coordinators have conducted survey in the villages, to make a start as the first phase. More data is being collected. Side by side, small groups are being formed. They are so many mango-growers in Dharampur, thanks to Tuff. The experts are going to give practical demonstration. The training program for the mango-growers is also on the cards. According to latest information, organic liquid has been manufactures during the training period from Nim tree leaves, collected by the farmers. Now that liquid is to be distributed to the farmers [who collected leaves locally] to irrigate mango trees – to protect them from insects. After the farmers see the results, it would be easy to for further expansion.  We are hopeful of success. If that happens, it would be one more landmark – sort of revolution. The farmers will produce more mangoes from the same number of trees & get better price. The project is termed by the German agency as 

Basic Global Agricultural Practices
Visitors
There were about 40 visitors in groups and as individuals. They included two teachers from Alle School of Sweden. Several of the visitors were expert teachers in several subjects [regular every month] and special invitees, kind donors, came for getting training, follow – up of the programs supported by them, vocational guidance,  meetings & general consultation
 
News In Brief
2 teachers and 8 students participated in the consultation [at a place 500 km away] of students of Gujarat for     two days. The subject was Life Education & Leadership.
3 centers - 2 schools and a nature cure center got support [RS 2.5 million] for building construction. VPSS Provided link - service to make this happen. Several sessions took place in Bilpudi & respective groups, before the final decisions were taken.
The second and final installment of free text - books was received for Pr. Schools, under govt. plan. 
Library - books worth SEK 13000  purchased for all the schools from one NGO, at 35 % reduced price. 
The principal and expert teachers [5] of a school - complex from Surat visited Bilpudi and Tamchhadi centers in connection with our quality improvement drive.
Got support in kind : [1] Cloth for uniform for all 900 students [2] Dresses for Hostel girls [3] Chairs, Sofas and other furniture [4] computers [5] Writing tables and benches [6] Mosquito nets [7] telephone devises & [8] vessels
The Surat group provides special home – cooked snacks every 15 days. 
25 persons were provided bridging support for hospitalization. They were treated at concessional charges by Shrimad Rajchandra Hospital in Dharampur.
3 girls could joine a Nursing College in Surat - for graduation. Now the number who went for University & higher education courses this year has reached to 63. 
New Ratalu crop [of special potato] is coming out nice. It is just the beginning of harvesting.
The rest of the on – going programs [like G. Hostel – University Education etc  are progressing well [routine] and hence are not covered in this Bulletin

Joint News Bulletin of ‘VEDCHHI PRADESH SEVS SAMITI’ - Udyogwadi - Valod : 394640 : D. Tapi & VAN PATH  –  BILPUDI [T. DHARAMPUR] Mobile Nos : 9429885232 & 9429871070
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NEWS BULLETIN   June - July- August : 2014

SUPPORT : TUFF - SWEDEN
BENGT GIRLS’ HOSTEL : BOON FOR STUDENTS
As wished by the family of late Bengt, his friends & Tuff Board to commemorate his memory, ‘The Girls’ Hostel’ building is now ready. It is being used by the students of 10th grade in Vaghval – a small town in Dharampur Block, on the top of the mountain. It is proving a very comfortable accommodation and real boon for silent home - study in the final year of the High School. Tuff financed this project. Late Bengt developed Tuff Web – Site so skillfully and periodically updated the same with precision, till he breathed his last. He was a silent but great admirer of Dharampur Project. Very often we met during our Swedish visits in connection with ‘Tuff Web’. We had occasional correspondence also with him, in that respect. VPSS is proud to have a “ HOSTEL FOR GIRLS ”, in late Bengt’s memory, in one of our schools.

GROWTH ; UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
After 12th [Final grade of Gymnasium] only the students are eligible to join University.  The growing attraction for higher education in our students and the cooperation of their parents are most promising. We term it: From Illiteracy to University. 8 students have joined Diploma Engineering and 6 have joined Degree. This is 5 times more growth, compared to the last year. One boy has finished his BE. [Graduation in Computer Engineering], with project support. He is now doing his Masters [after graduation] - that is ME. Perhaps he may be the first tribal boy to get ME degree, not only in Dharampur Block, but in the entire tribal community. While he was here during his vacation, he taught Maths to the students of our 2 high schools. What a see change in just 3 years, since the students started going for University [rather reluctantly, 2 years back] at far away and unknown places. Another boy is now in the final year of his Engineering Degree [BE]. Finding his talent, he was sent to a special Science Gymnasium. He also took lessons in our 2 H. Schools, during his vacation. What a joy - our past students - still studying, teaching to present students. This is the first time one medical student is being helped, in his final year; as his family is no more in a position to continue support. I student has joined Pharmacy 11 students have joined a Gandhian University for rural & social studies – far away from Dharampur. 3 of them are doing their Masters in Social Works [MRS]. 7 students have joined Nursing [degree & diploma] in Haydrabad [S. India]. About 7 students have joined general courses in Science, Commerce and Social Studies, in local Colleges. 6 girls have just got admission in Para - Medical Course. We are mainly using Tuff funds [past saving & current contribution] as well as help coming from other sources for this ambitious program. This is how, the total number of students who have joined University & other special courses have crossed 50. Seems, the U. Education also has come to stay. About 15 ex-students who have finished studies are working as teachers, nurses, chemist [1], and social workers - most of them in villages. . 

Mango Plantation & Forest Expansion 
6000 mango saplings have been distributed at half the normal price. The students were given them at quarter price. After 2 decades, we have now close to the magic figure of 125000 plants. During that period, the only support for the program came from Tuff, without a break. It has made wonderful impact. This year 2 NGOS:  Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society [BCAS] & Tarsadia Foundation [registered both in US & India] have also joined hands, over and above Tuff. Formal plantation programs at 2 places were organized. In one village it was amidst the farmers and another event was in our Girls' Hostel premises. 15 professionals with some family members participated in the functions, at both the places. BCAS has contributed not only for saplings; but also for rearing up them; in case of very poor farmers as also in the G. Hostel. For the growth of forest, 15,000 saplings of different species have been given to the farmers and our students, at nominal price. The parents will naturally be involved, creating an environmental awareness – very much needed today.

Mother & Child - Care Program : Restart
A program for pregnant women, nursing mothers and their kids has been restarted in Virekhetra Cluster. It was conducted for several years, with the help of Tuff. The Surat Group is now providing full support. The nourishment plan for pregnant women covers 168 women. They get nutritious packed food items every month. The food will be given for 9 months. The food gets prepared under the supervision of the group in Surat and brought here in Tuff Lorry. 180 nursing mothers get special packed food [for 15 days at a stretch] twice a month from Surat. The health - kits of prime requirements for the mothers and kids [designed by doctors of Surat] are also given [kept ready in the school] immediately after the delivery. This package plan is to be expanded by Surat Group in still interior villages, after monsoon.

FOCUS OF SURAT GROUP : UNAPPROACHABLE KAPRADA BLOCK            
By chance, one group from Surat came to know about our work and simply jumped into it [Pl. visit the web below and also paragraph above], when the project was just stepping in 26th year. Over and above funding generously for Virekshetra Cluster, they became real activists. This is the story of just last one year. Their plan is to expand existing programs and add more ones. The survey is in progress. In earlier Bu. the programs like 'Cataract Operation Camp' in our Virekshetra School, roofing tiles, Ratalu [new crop], preparations for check dams - bunding, wells, e. motors etc. have been mentioned. In all the programs, as is our approach, the involvement of the beneficiaries & 40 to 50 % contribution, either labor or cash are a must.   More details:

More Programs Executed

·         6 check – dams constructed: [3 big ones - largest so far, using  JCB machine]

·         Soil - bunding done in 10 villages [about 50 hectares covered]. 

·         14 wells [10 reconstructed & 4 new]

·         Ratalu crop is coming up.  2720 kg seeds given to 50 farmers as a trial project; as this crop is rather new in this cluster.

·         Tiles given to 35 poorest families, to cover the vacant roof – space.  This is a new initiative in housing sector.

·         Given 4 E. Motors for irrigation & 20 P.V.C. tanks [for storing drinking water].

·         Sweets provided to students of all our 9 schools/hostels. The flow will be a regular feature now onwards, including milk for all.

·         Infrastructural support given to Virekshetra Hostel – School

·         Started nourishment program for pregnant and nursing mothers as well as new - born kids. [Details above]

·         400 mango sapling given [support received from Tarsadia  Foundation]

Paddy [improved] - Nagli - Ragi [traditional grain of Dharampur region] seeds distributed in Virekshetra & around, from project funds [1000 farmers - 3500 kg].

Programs - After Monsoon
Massive roofing tiles program will be undertaken. The survey is on. Vegetable plantation to be expanded in a planned way, after monsoon.  
All our schools will be revisited to identify urgent needs. The group is going to fund & manage the program directly. We appreciate.
Survey is on of the non - functioning hand - pumps. An ambitious repairs and training [follow - up] program will be undertaken, after monsoon.
 Existing lakes to be deepened by JCB machine. The intensive program for 3 months [starting from December] will be executed by the group. The survey is on.
More cataract operations [second phase] to be performed [listing is on]
Mass marriages to be arranged [survey is on]. 
Male - Buffalo distribution to be introduced.
Free food grains kits to be distributed to the destitute families [Identification on].
Vegetable plantation to be expanded in a planned way around dams, after monsoon. The farmers will be encouraged to sell vegetables to our hostels. The innovative idea came from the group.
Winter [second] crop of protein - rich cereals will be worked out with the farmers and executed after monsoon. 
Monthly sweet food program to be undertaken in all the schools
Chain of trips of Surat to be arranged for all our schools, as also long trip of North India, for senior grades. 

[2 new workers appointed (1 of them our ex – student) in Virekshetra - 2 new workers joined Tarsadia Foundation. They will assist our senior coordinator Santu]

Surat Group & Tarsadia Foundation
In the same way, Tarsadia Foundation [visit web and above] is also involving on a large scale, in remote Kaprada. They have started an office in Kaprada town [now] and taken up most of the programs as above. [Details to follow in the next Bulletin] The consultation between Van Path, Surat Group & Tarasadia Foundation was held recently, to plan out joint strategy, to be followed after monsoon.

More Development : Kaprada
One more Trust approached us recently. They are interested in schools in particular and development in general. We took a round where the development programs have been successfully carried out & as well some schools. Our coordinators will fully cooperate.

Towards : A Model Village
A group from Shree Rajchndra Ashram wants to select a village to develop as a Model. We moved with them in some villages. They hope to take up some programs in our cooperation. Since last 8 years the Ashram has taken full responsibility of our Tamachhadi Schools.  Some Ashram inmates periodically visit Tamachadi for teaching. .

Visiting Teachers
As for quality education, in last 8 weeks [after summer vacation] 8 experts of different subjects came and taught in our schools, to supplant the on - going teaching by our qualified and hard - working, but not so expert teachers. A lady professor of English [from a distant University] with 3 assistants taught for 3 days. She took a second round also, observing the receptivity of our students. She has decided to visit Dh. every 2 months. A principal of one Gymnasium teaches Maths every 2 months. Our ex - student and colleague in Dharampur for many years - Versha is now a regular visiting teacher   One professor of science has offered to take lessons for 10 days We expect about 20 experts to tech our students. A few of them have promised to join us, at regular intervals.

Girls'Hostel
After good results of 10th [final of secondary school] 30 students got admitted in 11th grade [now total 65] in the Girls' Hostel [Bilpudi]. Out of them, there are 27 students in the hostel who have opted for science - a record. 5 students went for 11th in a reputed Gandhian higher secondary school [Gymnasium], at a distance of 300 km. A few have joined other schools.  A specialist teacher has now joined our team, as a coordinator. He will look after improvement in quality and do extra coaching. He will also follow the programs of the visiting teachers.  

New Initiative : Government Primary Schools
The latest initiative is to strengthen government primary schools, in the far - fetched villages of Kaprada Block. The plan is just taking shape. Many of the schools are in deplorable situation, almost like 25 years ago – the time, when we stepped in. In some schools there are fewer teachers than the minimum number required. A core group of 3 friends are handling this initiative as an independent experiment. The group is trying to improve quality of education in about 25 schools. The enthusiastic group will gain experience in coming months and would finalize the action plan, accordingly.                 

Support in Kind
A group of retired bankers moved in our 5 schools to distribute special black - boards. Another group donated 32 benches for 4 schools. They visited our schools recently. After that the Trust has promised to provide more benches & such other needs. Another trust sent 10 writing tables. Tarsadia Foundation donated 40 mosquito nets for our Girls' Hostel. Some visitors donated dresses, note - books, drawing material, telephone devices, music system & vessels. We appreciate the love of   all of the friends for our students. There were 2 youngsters from an educational institute, who stayed in our schools, to get          experience.                                                                                                               
Touching Stories          
A man in rags came to see us in the Hostel. With him was his son - very humble. They never knew us. The father overheard some where about our support - plan for higher education. He told, 'I did not know any of you; but fixed Koki & Hostel in my ears'. Then he narrated the struggle, they passed through. The poor father - son duo managed every thing, which took days [mainly documents]. They even reached the Diploma College in an unknown area. The boy managed to get admission. As there is no hostel, they hired a room. All money was finished. Finally, in desperation, they approached us to get support for the room - rent. The support was immediately given. We assured them full help for future needs. The boy revisited us after settling down in his college. He informed that along with 2 other students he lives in the hired room. His studies are going on well. One more boy also visited us almost crying. After a long wait, he had got an admission in a Science College, just opened. But they had no money for initial deposit. That was given. The boy is assured of all help for future.  

Brief News      
One of our students was bitten by a poisonous snake. He was immediately admitted in a special hospital. After a costly emergency treatment he is saved
For the first time both our High Schools [grades 9 & 10] received free text- books for all the subjects, from the governmen
Purchased 1000 books for libraries of all our school.  2500 small booklets [Gandhi’s favorite] were distributed in several schools around Dharampur.  
120 male buffaloes supplied at nominal price. They were brought in lorries from Katchha, a border district, close to Pakistan. The number [in last 2decdes] is close to magic figure: 5000 ani
 

Come What My
Yes, the project is growing. To be frank, for the developments of last 8 months [entry - 26th year]; the credit must go to our new donors, as we had decided not to embark upon any new initiatives or to expand, even if funds were forthcoming. We felt, we had reached to a saturation point and expansion means compromise on quality front or frustration - as we might not cope up. But that was not to happen, as the Surat Group is full of enthusiasm [see details else where in this Bulletin]. This has come as an unexpected opportunity and we now feel that we must go ahead, come what may. We had also some sort of guilt feeling that we could not do much for that remote and poorest block. Now it seems that the cluster [about 20000 people] will come up on par with other clusters, in about 5 years, in our presence. Importantly, the group is not only expanding on - going programs in so far unapproachable villages; but more so, suggesting new programs, observing the deplorable situation at the grass - roots. We cannot but associate with them and follow such quality people. 'Virekshetra Sub - Paln' is like a new project, in a new Block.

[Reply to Myriam of  Holand. She visited this area about 6 months back.  The interested friends may                    see her report on Dharampur project Web - site]
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BULLETIN : DHARAMPUR  & KAPRADA

March – April – May : 2014 
Support : TUFF : Sweden
Following 3 schools organized OODW
[1]  Kumla:Skola on  May - 22   [2]  Tyresö Skola: on June  - 5    [3]  Allé Skola: on June  - 5

How Schools Work
I want to report that our OODW in Kumla took place in a very sunny and warm Tyresö. It was, as usually high activity as flea market, carpenters, bakery, hair - dressers, nail - painters, car - washing, bike repairs, taxi workers etc during the day time in the school. In the afternoon and early evening, it was a theater and art exhibition, with works from our pupils. Also there were some music groups. Nice Day. We are waiting for many people to come with their collections.
[How a Swedish School worked for Dharampur School – Letter of teacher Lisa of Kumla]. 

Broad Utilization Plan : One Year
[5 - 6 - 7 Grades : 110 Students]
[1] Food  [2] Text - books / Note – books [4] Library books [3] Teaching material & magazines [5] Salary for 2 Teachers [6] A pair of uniform dress to each student [7]  5 mango saplings to each student, at token price [8]  A Study & Pleasure Trip [9] Sports Material [10] Health Care [11] Training Camps [ 12] Extra Coaching Camps  
Approximate Expenditure : About RS 800000 [About 100000 SEK]

ILLITERACY TO UNIVERSITY                     
 [Summary of messages sent to three schools]
In last 2 decades [since we started formal schools] hundreds of students and scores of teachers have come and gone, but that did not affect your performance, making it better and better every year. The most stimulating is the fact that what you are doing is not charity; but creative and fruitful hard work. Incidentally, education as well of students, through activities tuned with fun.  
What a sea - change it is in Dharampur! When we stepped in, in this region, away from the main stream, even regular primary schools were hardly functioning [see Myriam’s report below]. Education all – to - gather was an unknown concept. In that scenario, the schools obviously became our entry point. They were followed by other development activities. It is a fight against illiteracy to start with and gradually against poverty. From day one till today, TUFF had been our supporter, without a break. So the Sister Schools are in the roots here. We are highly grateful.
When we initiated the project in Dharampur, in fact It was the first generation that started attending schools. Now they are like models, which operate not only within the four walls - teaching normal subjects; but are thriving with many activities, in the surrounding villages. It is a landmark step when a decade ago, we started the first high – school in a cluster of about 20 villages. Now we have 2 high schools and a hostel for girls - studying science, commerce and general subjects, in the near by 4 Gymnasiums [11th & 12th]. The latest phase is joining various University Faculties and other vocational courses [after 12th], by nearly 100 students, by now
Let us thank you all - the students and teachers for your continuous support, making it possible to have education for the students - the basic right of human beings - who otherwise could have no access to it. The spirit of all of you in working hard for a DAY for our schools is so stimulating. The friendship and concern imbibed in that gesture are strong pillars of peace

BENGT GIRLS’ HOSTEL IN VAGHVAL SCHOOL
As desired by the family of late Bengt, his friends and Tuff Board  a large room has been constructed for the 10th grade [final year of the High School] girl students. This will be a separate living room for doing home - work and  stay.                                   
Stream of Visitors & Meetings
The famous Parley Biscuits Company [their NGO] is partially supporting our schools for teachers' salary. They appoint them and train them. The director and 2 educationists made a short visit, to work out future plans and how support could be expanded as well as more fruitful.
The director of reputed Alfa Institute from Ahmedabad visited G. Hostel and Tamachhadi School . They provided free services for 10 days for 11th - 12th graders [Gymnasium], for improving Science & Maths subjects. The friends [from Surat] who joined him later on made a special visit of one school. They carried with them cloth pieces [dresses], for 400 of our girls. Impressive. 
The lady professor working in a reputed Institute of English Language [teaching] came with her two students - doing Masters. They concentrated in both our high schools. .  
A team of 50 teachers from a big high school visited Tamachhadi School & Girls' Hostel. Many of them have visited remote hilly - forest area for the first time. 50 students of 9th grade will visit this school after monsoon. The students will stay with the co - students, in their families. 
A group of 2 friends from Bombay [working intensively in 2 villages, close to Vaghval mountain school] came to Bilpudi 2 days back, for sharing their experiences in those villages and for future planning.
A regular lady supporter [last 10 years] from Bombay stayed us for 2 days and made extensive visit of a few schools and development programs.
Another regular donor [15 years] visited Valod area to assess the needs for the construction of a new Girls’ Hostel for tribals. He approved the plan and is supporting..
A meeting here of different NGOS was held at the G. Hostel to discuss their future needs. Our elderly and regular donor [88] joined the group. We will work out final plans for all the NGOS - including that of VPSS, for students, who will join University Faculties.
 One Trust [NGO running Eye Hospital] held the meeting of the trust – with a special purpose to study our  community program on holistic lines
Rajesh stayed with us for 3 days, He visited 4 Pr. Schools and 2 H. Schools, to take interviews for new aspirant students. It was big rush - the problem being not less but more applicants.  
A journalist friend from Bombay joined us. She is interested in de-schooling educational concept. She organized a trip with Koki – Bhavna  of Tilonia to understand in depth, this innovative concept. Tilonia village is near Jaipur [Rajashan] and is famous for non - formal education experiment there - mainly amidst illiterate women and junior primary kids.
G. Hostel provided a platform for the meeting of about 40 activist tribal leaders agitating against the proposed river – link plan. It would result in the submergence of several villages. Sujata leads the movement – very strong.
Support obtained for hostel buildings for Tribal girls for 2 Gymnasiums, in Valod area.
Several loving individuals & genuine groups also visited us Good mutual education.   
15 check – dams have been constructed & 15 have been repaired. 23 villages have been covered for massive soil – bunding program. 61950 kg f. grains given as wages. 

Results of 2 High Schools & Gymnasium for Girls                        
In SSC [final exam] in our 2 high schools, out of 60 students 55 got through - half of them in the first and higher second classes and rest around 50 % marks. In 12th [Gymnasium], 24 out of 30 girls of our hostel [Bilpudi] have passed. Those who failed will reappear, after a month including boy [ex] students. 15 students have passed in Science Streams. The deliberations are on, to get them admitted in engineering, nursing, computer and general science, on the basis of the merits and their aptitudes. We tried to involve the parents also – who have hardly and clarity. But we want them to keep in confidence. Bhavna Shah [an activist looking after higher studies of University & Vocational Courses] joined the sessions and guided the students. Good help to Koki. Once the admissions are fixed, the practical arrangements [mainly hostel at different places of study] will be worked out. An officer of L & T [one of the biggest Corporate Houses] dealing with vocational training also joined us and also visited some schools, to inform the students about vocational and technical courses, conducted by the company. VPSS & VAN PATH have worked out an ambitious Scholarship Plan for all the students, who would get admissions for higher education. The funds for approximate requirements have been received. To follow our quality thrust, a few students for 11th are being encouraged to join reputed Gymnasiums, with financial support, 
9 girls [ who completed Gymnasium] went to one vocational school - further from Ahmedabad [350 km]. They attended 3 months' course of Computer Basics. Two of them stood first in essay – writing and debate. 18 girls who completed 1ttth have joined  5 days  innovative self – development  camp, at Oasis Valley [100km]  Institute. Koki first joined the trainers’ camp at the same place. Focus: Quality improvement of government. primary schools.. 
                      
Entry in 26th Year : Addition : Two New Programs          
1 : ROOFING TILES
'Roofing Tiles' [Virekshetra Cluster] is a new initiative in the 26th year in the host of welfare programs, implemented  in last two & a half decades. Since last 6 months, we are concentrating on this neglected cluster. We can modestly state that Development here is not initiated or motivated by us, it just happens. The donors & community are on the forefront. Our NGO simply follows & cooperates. The credit should go to Surat group, who has just joined the ‘March’

A fortnight ago, Koki & 2 friends from Surat were moving in the villages, around Virekshetra to look at the on - going programs. This fast – progressing 'Cluster Plan' in this region is the brain - child of Surat Group. While moving, the group came across one hamlet of primitive tribe [known as Kolcha] - the poorer section in tribal community. They found a family desperately arranging tiles on the roof. They could make out that the tiles were not enough. They casually asked: 'what about the remaining space, on the roof?' Obviously, they have to use grass and leaves for that; as they are used to do, for generations. The group observed: If all the poorest families needing tiles could be provided tiles at their door - steps with concession, it could be a big relief. They offered to support such a program - on the spot. No pre – planning [as usual] and no demand. I describe this phase as: Development Just happened.
The action was immediate. The new graduate social worker [our ex - student] was asked to make a survey of the most needy families. It was done within a week and the tiles reached to all 25 needy families [with their matching contribution], within the next week. 10 more are on way. It has now been decided that 'Tiles Project' would be executed on mass scale, next year. During monsoon, the survey would be completed. On the basis of our past experience of rehousing, we made a suggestion; If 4 cement polls also could be given, on the same lines, the families could be saved from rebuilding their houses almost every third or fourth year, as the wooden palls are spoiled during monsoon and the ants destroy the plinth. They agreed with this additional proposition. Frankly rehousing was never on our agenda; but it has suddenly taken birth. It is very exciting & revealing, for the strategists.         

2 :  RATALU : SPECIAL SWEET CROP
During this trip, some locals also joined us. One of them casually spoke about bumper crop of Ratalu, taken by a few resourceful farmers. It created interest in this crop – almost new for the cluster. One farmer in the neighborhood of our school came immediately, with Ratalu in his hands. Then followed intensive discussion of all the aspects: Technical [growing method] - storing - marketing - cost of seeds etc. Finally it was decided upon to expand this crop - first as a trial, with some 35 families, who came forward. Those who successfully grown this crop, agreed to guide.
The crop has to be planted within 3 weeks, not miss the season. As such, a market of seeds was located. The seeds were purchased and brought in Project lorry [TUFF] to the school. 35 families were given 2720 kg Ratalu costing RS 166000 There was one – third contribution from the beneficiaries and rest from Surat friends. When the group revisited Virekshetra after two weeks; the seeds were distributed. The crop will be ready, almost after the monsoon. In early winter, watering Ratalu a least once is not much of a problem. 14 wells & 3 check – dams have been completed and 3 will be ready soon. They will be useful for this crop. A lake also is coming up. There are 14 farmers having their fields, around it. They will have additional benefit of water. The Surat group has promised to help in whole - sale marketing. The project lorry [Tuff] will transport the crop to Surat. The entire collection - transport and marketing management will be handled by local youth, 
Conclusion - Community Development Drive
While summing up this rather a long description [could not help] I will state with pleasure that the march, on the community development front is gaining unexpected speed - with involvement on an increasing scale of the beneficiaries and generous help of Surat & Tarsadia Foundation [Pl. see last News Bu.]. They have not only started a full – fledged office in Kaprada [they are so serious], but have also appointed water experts. More about their contribution in the next N. Bu.  About 25 off – the road villages - having population of nearly 20000 tribals are [rather late, as we lack strength] are joining the Development March – thanks to the 2 groups. Our school in Virekshetra is functioning as a spring-board. Our senior and experienced staff is helping this new thrust, with enthusiasm and hope.               

Impact – impact - Impact
When we started introducing second winter crop [Credit : Late Hitenbhai] in Matunia [the web – site is coming up soon] 3 years ago, the farmers were rather reluctant. Next year, it stared picking up. The third year, almost the whole village was covered. Then followed training of farmers in near-by Ambheti Agricultural Science Centre [Gujarat Vidyapith]. The next step was introduction of new vegetables and Paddy/Nagali seeds. Only few leading farmers accepted these seeds. Next year, there was a big rush – watching the result. The third year, not all the farmers could get seeds. This year our farmers were left out, as many others obtained seeds, on their own. Such was the impact. We approached the Centre to know from where to have seeds. With their support, we obtained truckload of seeds - 2500 kg Paddy & 250 kg Nagali, over & above one grain [20 kg] known as VERI [for trial] from far away Dangs Research & Production Centre. The seeds have reached Matunia/Virekshetra villages & have been distributed to the waiting farmers, at 50 % cost. 

VEDCHHI PRADESH SEVA SAMITI & VAN PATH TRUST
[Udyogwadi - Valod : 394640 : D. Tapi & Kanya Chhatralay : Bilpudi : 396050 : D. Valsad]

        

NEWS LETTER : DHARAMPUR & KAPRADA
November - December (2013) & Januaary - February (2014)
SUPPORT FROM SWEDEN
VPSS is getting support from Tuff [Sweden] since last 35 years, without a break. We received  SEK 245000 [RS 2331344] this year - RS 500000 more than last year. That indicates concern for Dharampur. The credit goes primarily to several Swedish Sister Schools [also some spirited individuals], who raise fund by a day's voluntary work - termed as OODW. What a concern! The amount [support - interest - saving] has been used and is being utilized for the following items:
Total expenditure for 2 Residential Primary Schools of 210 students of  5 - 6 - 7 grades  [Salary + Food + Teaching Aids]
2 uniform dresses to each student and 5 mango saplings as an encouragement
8200 mango saplings [118000 in last two decades, with exclusive support from Tuff]
10 persons got support for serious illness and 15 for minor illness
20 past students got partial support: University - Vocational & Technical education
2 Teachers' Training Camps
4 Students'  Training Camps
One Study & Pleasure Trip
Salary of 2 coordinators of community programs [check dams, soil - bunding & wells etc.]
Seeds provided to 75 farmers for winter [second] crop
A new building is about to complete in the Girls' Hostel [Bilpudi] - with 2 rooms.
[The students have now special facility for quiet study and extra reading]
Administration - Transport of goods [to schools & dam sites] & Traveling

Silver Jubilee Celebration
The completion of 25 years of Dharampur project was celebrated It was attended by many supporters, colleagues from all over Gujarat, community leaders, all the past workers - who shaped the project, leading ex - students, teachers - workers and higher grade students. Around 20 persons expressed their feelings. There was no body to inaugurate, introduce, no chief guest, no president, no garlanding - no formalities. The high lights:
In the beginning, the students performed wonderful dances.
5 days training camp in one school preceded the function [part of celebration].
The students from that camp were divided in 4 groups. They went to nearby govt. primary schools and taught the students [almost of the same age] what they learnt in sociology  This was the first such experiment - very successful. 2 students narrated their experiences boldly, in front of the big mass - very impressive.
The drawings and creations from the camp and our other schools were exhibited.
7/8 grade students were engaged in various group activities & experiments
3 expert groups conducted the camps, exhibition and guided the show.
15 past & present workers spoke.  They wee full of emotions.
One of them was from a primitive tribe [considered lower than other tribes] volunteer, attached to the project since more than 10 years. As he could not speak in Gujarati, he spoke in his dialect Kunkani. Moving experience for all the listeners.
Before the gathering, there was mass meal for all.
Koki welcomed all and gave an introductory speech. I briefly concluded.

The presence of so many friends of Dharampur and assurance that in what ever plans we may devise, the well - wishers [4 of them spoke] will be with us. It was moral  boosting.  This being a short of joint venture and team - work, who would thank whom? At this moment, we most humbly take a pledge to rededicate ourselves for the development ahead and emancipation of this cluster - encircled still by economic poverty. On account of the efforts of several NGOS, nice backing from many donors and trusts, sustained support of Tuff - Sweden, hard work of our dedicated cadre and last but not the least, involvement of the community from day one till today; the face of this block is steadily changing. Of course, much remains to be done and we have many miles to go.        

    WELCOME INITIATIVE BY ONE FOUNDATION
A few days ago, I got a call from an unknown person. 'I want to see you. Are you available today?' My reply: 'Yes.' The gentleman was with us in Bilpudi Hostel, in a few hours. He started. "By chance, a folder came in my hands :  Summary of 25 years" Then followed long session. When he left, his final words were: 'My Indian Foundation wants to work in your cooperation. Are you ready?' I said : 'Welcome'. He agreed with our request to employ a full - time worker, to execute the programs in a remote cluster of 7 villages, spread out in a large area in mountains & forest. One of our ex - students has graduated from one Gandhian University, with the project support. He is completing Masters' in Social Work. He will handle. The visitor welcomed it.

The very third day, along with his secretary he arrived gain, to take a round of the villages. He [77] lives in US and was to leave India for US, within a couple of days. So, he was in a hurry  He and other like - minded friends have set up a Sister Foundation in US also. They collect funds from family - members & friends to give donations for good causes. We immediately drove to the remote villages on a facts - finding mission. The group asked some families as to  what were their problems. The gentleman wanted to go ahead, without any delay. Some priority programs were listed. He asked the people to start immediately  soil - conservation  New wells and other need - based programs also would be taken up, before long. As asked by him, the survey was completed in just 3 days and final picture was presented. Then in next 2 days, they revisited the target area. Of course, as is our style, the beneficiaries would contribute labor.

During the return trip, the action - plan was worked out. As the Foundation has decided to concentrate in this poor cluster [of Kaprada Block only], an office was hired. A temporary worker has started coordination of field work and general administration. This is a turning point when we are stepping in the 26th year.
The same man visited Bilpudi again for the fourth time, in a week. This time he came with an expert on water conservation. He is to guide our workers, over the issue of more conservation of water. Our field workers had a long session with the expert. It was followed by a field visit of the check dams - ready as well as under construction and soil conservation program. He requested us to give 3 [not 1] names, who could handle multiple development programs, in this large and scattered cluster, on VPSS pattern. Accordingly,  3 workers have been appointed. They are helping VPSS chief coordinator in the field. He will now devote more time for this new plan.
VPSS has a set pattern, where the people's contribution [mainly in form of labor] for their welfare programs is a must. This Foundation has devised a strategy likewise: The Foundation is joining hands in some villages of this cluster, already having VPSS base. They will follow there, VPSS pattern [participatory]. In the meeting we listed out 15 other villages [hardly approachable] in this block, as demanded by them.. By and large, they have still remained untouched by main stream development. Even today, the situation there is almost like the same, when we stepped in, 25 years ago. We could not manage to run a school in that cluster. VPSS approach on holistic pattern has succeeded so far, on account of schools. They are our centers of development. Now the Foundation plans to cover all these untouched villages. This initiative gives us great satisfaction - as the gap finally is being filled - covering the total commune. Of course, the approach will be mixed - development as well as charity, as the new friends do not want to wait for longer, while the motivational process is rather slow. Speed is their catch - Very.Good.
Let me conclude : In these very remote villages, we are never going to work actively in our life time [84 & 75]. For us it is welcome that this Foundation intends to work in that difficult cluster. These invisible villages have remained totally left out, after 65 years of independence and 25 years of our entering this dark zone. The Foundation is young [very enthusiastic] in the field and we are rather old. They are so cooperative and enthusiastic. Dharampur is really fortunate.

Another Group
Dharampur is a very poor commune in Gujarat state. That is why we have left Valod and are here. More remote Kaprada commune surrounded by mountains & forest is still poorer. It is so very welcome that one cluster of 7 border villages is adopted by a group from Surat [see last N. Bulletin]. The programs of wells, [10 done] soil and water conservation, small irrigation, new seeds of a rare vegetable are being introduced, eye - camp [followed by 42 cataract operations] conducted, in Virekshetra Cluster [with our school as a center]. This Surat group earlier came here casually and fell in love with the poorest block. The Foundation [above] is the second group coming forward on its own.  How nice that the second phase here has made a flying start !
Welcome Initiative by Former Students
When Dharampur Project makes entry in the 26th year, we now expect that old and skillful students would devote some time by and by, for the project - targeted towards the progress of their community. To consider this move [as part of Silver Jubilee Year] a meeting of the promising 22 boys - girls was held. They had inspiring stories to tell - their journey from our primary school to gymnasium and further struggle in their growth. Words came out from their hearts. It was decided upon that all of them will contact other ex - students to plan their future studies and also to involve them in the project.  For in - depth planning a camp of 2 days will be held in next April.
We briefly considered plans for those who have left studies half way or could not succeed in final exams. We are planning to support them. We also explained about scientific agriculture and animal husbandry to get more production from limited resources.  Versha [who earlier visited Sweden] is a student of Koki [Borakhadi PTC], a  model for the participants. She is working with us in Dharampur for long. She told her inspiring life story.  We could observe that very many students have made nice progress from this illiterate society. Quite a few have joined various faculties in University or professional courses. A few are serving [working] in remote villages and slums. The focus of the meeting : How to develop the community - from where the students come and to remind them :  Now that they have got a golden opportunity, they must see to it [and help], that many more youths in waiting get such opportunity. VPSS - Van Path [Sister Trust]  will be more than ready to support welfare schemes, which may be suggested by them.

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                        GREAT IMPACT OF SOIL - BUNDING

I was moving with one group in a village, about 80 km from Bilpudi. The group wants to involve on VPSS pattern, in the poorest and farthest villages cluster of Kaparada commune. On way, we visited an old well, requiring repairs. Our coordinator Santu had earlier been there, to measure work done for soil –bunding, on a big scale [2/3 years ago] In the middle of March he had never found water in the well. He was surprised to find so much of water. He explained to the group - this is because of soil - bunding done in this area. The rows and rows bunds certainly was visible, from a distance. That has recharged the well.

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2014 januaari

A MODEL RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
Dharampur Project is now a long journey of 25 years, in a hilly-forest region. This area remained untouched by main - stream development. Hence Vedchhi Pradesh Seva Samiti [VPSS] jumped into action, with education as an entry - point. VPSS launched other need-based socio - economic programs also, one after another. The project gradually turned out to be a phased growth, on holistic lines. It now touches around 100 scattered villages, covering 100000 poor tribal population, of this isolated block. The project now runs 6 primary schools, 2 high schools and 1 hostel for girls, for higher secondary - serving 1000 students. Compared to the miserable situation when we first put our feet in the region, this year 50 students have taken up Engineering, Nursing, Rural Reconstruction, Farmecy, Computer and other Sciences, in higher faculties. If we add the number of last 3 years, it touches100 students This is sort of a miracle. For this to happen, main credit goes to  schools of Sweden. The students there donate a day's labor [till today] for Dharampur Project. This unique movement is coordinated by one pacifist Swedish NGO - Tuff. They are in the roots, as they were our only supporters, during the first decade. Of course, in last decade and half, support from Indian donors also followed. The Swedish school support did made a positive impression on them That is why the project could flourish, without any government grant.

VPSS is giving special emphasis on Girls’ education.  A hostel for 11th -12th has been started for them. Totally 28 girls from this hostel joined Science Stream, a few Commerce and the rest, general stream. Even one girl is doing Masters' in social studies & one boy is doing Masters' in engineering.
As many villages were facing acute drinking water problem, it required urgent attention. As per VPSS policy, the beneficiaries were asked to dig wells. The project provided material. Result: So far, 230  wells are ready. Here also in the beginning, more than 100 wells were constructed, with Tuff support.

About 50 % of the population used to migrate towards cities, from February onwards. So after education VPSS took up programs to generate sustainable economic growth at local level, with focus on employment.   
Since the start of the twin soil & water conservation program some 2 decades ago; VPSS has constructed 525 small mud - stone check dams - a big support to increase food production, in a large area. The soil - conservation has reached to more than 80 villages, creating new or upgraded agricultural fields - regaining 2000 hectares of land. New & improved crops are now taken there. In all these programs, around 50 % community contribution in form of labor is a must. Rest of the wages are paid by the project, in form of food - grains, on 'Food for Work' principle.
The other programs executed are as follows:
Winter crop [second] and better seeds have been introduced in about 50 villages. It is fast spreading, increasing production & employment.
220 oil - engines are given to groups at half the price, for small irrigation, resulting in big expansion of vegetable & fruit crops
118000 mango plants given [50 % price] with exclusive support of Tuff
4700 male buffaloes have been given to support agricultural operation at 25 % cost. The rest of the expense is born by cattle sheds. The animals are brought from 500/600 km. VPSS is the coordinator.
300 youngsters are given technical & professional training, followed by 50 % support for implements, for those who start small jobs
350 couples took advantage of Mass Wedding
27 rain water harvesting tanks have been constructed, to partially solve drinking water problem. On trial basis, 25 PVC tanks have just been given to the families, where water could not be found. [50% aid].
60 fuel - saving stoves have just been given as a trial [50 % aid]
Eye and health check - up camps are organized, intermittently.