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Jharkhand is heading towards a drought: NDTV pix

Torpa. 1 May 2011: Mahila Vikas Kendra (MVK) staff and students of various categories attended a two day workshop on the ecological concerns of the region 29-30 April.

Fr (Dr) Robert Athickal S.J from Tarumitra(“Friends of Trees”) , Patna animated the workshop. Fr. Robert came with his long drawn out experience with students, teachers, SHGs and farmers and sensitized the group to the ecological problems. Tarumitra is an organization of students with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations from 2005.

It may be mentioned that the State of Jharkhand is reeling under a dry spell because of failed monsoon last few years. The large rivers of the state are running dry and the wells and borings have gone stone dead in most parts of the state.

MVK organized a series of workshops: The Core staff and volunteers with Fr. Athickal (extreme left)

Attending the seminar were 65 Staff members of MVK as agroup, the Staff and students of the New Dawn high School and students and teachers from the far flung network of Balwadis “children’s schools.” A total of 320 students and teachers participated in the exposure program.

Exploring the delicate balance that characterizes nature, Fr. Robert helped the group to explore the subtle balances that exists of the various flora and fauna of the area.

A very interested group: students and staff of New Dawn School

One of the participants, William Baa underlined the connection between the water and forests. He said that every river flows from the assembly of trees commonly called a forest. “Every forest is the mother of rivers!” said he.

Partial view of MVK: the ubiquitous solar lights and panels

While people as a whole are worried about the mosquitoes, Fr. Robert demonstrated through his PowerPoints that they were integral to the ecosystem. While they do spread diseases, they help us to raise our immunity significantly. Every mosquito bite “is a free vaccination” from mosquitoes to raise immunity against diseases.

Though the abundant Malaria kills people, he showed through documentation that less than 10% of the people get a relapse of the disease. Each time the body learns to over come a variant of Malaria parasites and later develops immunity against them.

Balwadi teachers: congregated from the far flung villages on the second day

Mary Gudhia from the New Dawn school raised the issue of the rampant termites in the area. She said that Termites are the scavengers of nature and they do the valuable work of breaking down waste materials. Their number can be kept under checks and balances by keeping a few chicken who root out for them and removes them from becoming a threat.

Pankaj, one of the supervisors for the rural reach out suggested that MVK staff and students could plant five thousand trees during the ensuing monsoon season.

Fr. Robert Also showed the importance of snakes in the environment. So too, he showed the need for Tigers to protect the forest which in turn supplies water to people.

The program concluded with the staff singing songs and some of the joining the traditional Tribal pirouetting  with tribal drums!

Facing a crisis: The MVK well has gone far down for the pumps to work!

Laldev Prasad documented the proceedings through regular use of his camera. The participants appreciated one of the pictures which got enlarged 32”x 22” size and got it printed for the bulletin board using the popular program Posteriza.

A refreshing sign of hope: the very fragrant blossoms of Champa tree (Michelia champaca)

“Fr. Robert’s presentations were broad and he helped us not to miss the woods among the trees!” said Sr. Vimala, the Principal of the New Dawn School. “The summer and the droughts are here, but we must concentrate on the long term ecological solutions” said she.

Present also were Srs. Anjali, Vimala, Valaria, Lucy, Anita, Agnes and Sr. Daphne, the director.

Option for Life

Sr. Daphne Sequeira reflects: Jack-fruits in summer means abundance of Life!

The morning Newspapers and the TVs carry a lot of news and stories that are very negative. While the stories are important, the negativity need not be. Depressing stories take away our enthusiasm to live and flourish. In fact there is a need to affirm more life and living. The zest to live and the love to life make us realistic.

I say this because of the flow of history has been always positive.  For example, the erupting volcanoes of the young earth eventually gave birth to life and subsequently human beings.

The God of life is a living God who walks with us, sometimes carrying a cross or helping us to carry the cross. He is also a laughing dancing  twirling chuckling God: God of Life!  We are trying to live this spirit of God in Torpa through the stories of our women and men.