A visiting team of American college students have set out to bring education to children of Chilati village in Melghat.
The Colorado College team,comprising 10 girl students and two staff members,was shocked to find that the government primary school there has been closed since last year when villagers drove away the only teacher because he was a drunkard. The government has failed to replace the teacher.
The US students found a new school building,a vacant one built under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. They are now helping Maitri,the city-based voluntary organisation behind the visit,in arranging education material.
We will help Maitri prepare educational games,stories and songs and try to work out an educational model from next year, said Janne Barklis.
The girls also helped make the village a better place to live in,working with 71 households from December 30 to January 10,building compost pits and bathroom platforms,and planting banana,amla,papaya,custard apple and bamboo all over.
The team made sure the villagers learnt the logic behind every activity. Maitri volunteers explained why we selected those seeds. Papaya is good for A vitamin deficiency and the government does not give free iron tablets. The soil too is suitable for these plants. Bamboo will help villagers weave baskets, said Jayashree Shidore,founder volunteer of Maitri.
This was the third Melghat visit by a Colorado College team. This team reviewed the work by the earlier two at Domi and Kutida villages.
The team also made friends with the children. They knew that would help them in gaining acceptance among the Korku families,especially women, said Shidore. Sanket Deshpande,Sanjay Risbud,Rupali Ghate,Pallavi Kothekar and Shital Kanitkar worked as interpreters.
We learnt cooking,various Indian agriculture methods,about Indian fruits,and even the tactics of cementing, one of the girls said.
Maitri volunteers Ram,Madhu,Chandu,Gendlal,Rajaram,Kalu and Ashok,permanently staying at Chilati,helped take care of the logistics.
It was the first time this team had visited India. We were prepared for working in a rural environment,having been briefed by students who had earlier visited Melghat and Maitri, said Krystle Richman.
On each of the three visits,the students raised the money,the trip being beyond their academic purview. Steve Crosby and Tonita Lopez were the staff members who accompanied the college students.