Short-term summer camp
by SCI India
The camp started with a lot of excitement from the local participants on the 26th July 2022 at Bhagat Singh Club, near Raidighi, 24 Paraganas (South). 8 local volunteers participated from the village, 3 SCI volunteers from West Bengal State Group and 2 volunteers from Mumbai joined the camp.
The main focus of the camp was to plant trees on the river boundary (2nd. Tire) of the village and interaction with the local community to understand its problems, lifestyle and culture which was met very satisfactorily. We planted 600 Sonajhuri trees on a stretch of 1.5 Kilometer land each day about 75 trees approx. We also distributed 54 Mud apple trees (fruit trees). Beside planting of trees we also held two awareness meetings, one on Environmental awareness and the other on Menstrual Hygiene and Nutrition.
55 people attended the Environmental Awareness meeting. The Gram Prodhan (head of the 15 local villages) Mr. Probhakar Moyra & the headmaster of the Primary School Mr. Prasenjit Pramanick, a state award winner activist for environment, Mr. Kausik Das, Coordinator of Rama Krishna Mission,(NGO) of Swachha Bharat Mission joined us and spoke on the issue.
The need for forestation and stop cutting of trees were discussed at length. In that area the mangrove trees are cut every day by poor villagers to use as fuel for cooking, which is a serious problem. The indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticide, use of chemicals to kill the herbs and clean land, use of unnecessary motor vehicles, indiscriminate use of plastic and the measures to stop polluting by plastic waste were discussed as well. The present women assured to gather plastic waste in their house for collection.
The distribution of fruit trees among the women.
We distributed 54 Mud apple (fruit) plants which were named after iconic personalities like Gandhi, Satyan Bose, scientist or freedom fighter, etc. then these trees were handed over to the local women so that the community would plant and treat the trees with added respect.
Seminar on Menstrual Hygiene and Nutrition
In the village area the practice of using old cloth is still very common, which causes a lot of diseases among women, including cancer. Hence we decided to introduce the concept of using sanitary napkins to the local village women who are responsible for their daughters’ personal hygiene. Mrs. Rakhi Roy, who has been working for a long time on this subject, was invited to educate the local women about the subject.
A lot of circumstantial questions were asked by the women and their doubts clarified. After the meeting every woman who attended the seminar was provided with a packet of sanitary napkin and snacks.
The above women who attended the menstrual Hygiene and Nutrition awareness meetings assured to change their practices related to period.
A drawing competition was organized on environment with the children of a tribal community at Jiten Mudi Tutorial. The children from class 3 to 8, participated in the competition. Total number of children was 54. They were divided by age in 3 groups. Prizes were given to the 1st., 2nd & 3rd. place of each group.
The cleaning of a school compound
The volunteers cleaned a primary school campus, called Human Wave – Sushil Krishna Vidyapith, which was a bit far from the camp. Plastic waste and other litter were gathered and disposed of safely.
The introduction of the area
The village, where the camp was held is called Dakshibaribhanga Abad, 5 KM from Raidighi, by the side of a river called “Moni River”. It’s about 100 KM from Kolkata, takes 3 hours to reach there from Kolkata. The population is very low, there are about 65 families. Recently the local roads have been built with concrete, improved. The primary school is about 2 km away.
It has electricity connection as the Government is supplying 75 units free electricity per family but there is no running water. We took the 2 volunteers from Mumbai to visit the villages around and we also visited a women’s milk cooperative. The milk cooperative has been badly hit by the pandemic as they used to send milk to the city through the district cooperative but during the pandemic it didn’t work and they did not have local buyers at the right price. Now they are slowly recovering
Surprisingly, there is a Shiva temple amid the hectares and hectares of agricultural land which was built about 900 years back as per Government declarations .The temple is called “Jatar Deul”
The interaction with the local youth
The local youth enthusiastically participated in our activities. We also had evening discussions almost every day. The in-depth introduction of SCI was done. We also had an afternoon session regarding community development. Pinku Shoil Kamal, who joined from Mumbai, is a community resource mobiliser, had a small workshop in the evening and the following afternoon. About 25 youth joined the meeting; they were divided into 5 groups and they were asked to identify the local problems. The volunteers came back the next morning with their answers.
After some discussion the youths were empowered and passionate to make the village a plastic waste free zone. They will offer a big sack to each local family and the families will gather the plastic waste in that sack which will be collected by the youth once in 15 days and dumped in a site. They will also try to expand the area of this project after discussing with the local Panchayet (government). The camp was full of activities. The cooperation received from the local youth was excellent and encouraging. The SCI India West Bengal group has decided to follow up the campaign with the youth here to promote Peace, Solidarity and Sustainable Development.
The camp was a great success. We could contribute to the community in terms of ideas regarding health, environment and Human rights that we discussed with the youths, we could motivate them to take further actions to protect the environment after our departure on the other hand our volunteers were introduced to their skills. The volunteers who came from Mumbai highly appreciated the technique of the local volunteers while working with simple tools. The Mumbai volunteers were also amazed to see local people working since 5 ‘O’ clock in the morning as the day starts in Mumbai quite late whereas Mumbai works upto very late at night. They enjoyed the natural life that follows the Sunlight mostly. We all enjoyed the natural serenity and cordial actions with a spirit of mutual respect and understanding and we all left the venue with an urge of future connectivity and reunion for a better future of the village.