An enriching journey towards enlightenment and awakening carried forward by students of IWSB in collaboration with SRISHTI. An opportunity to delve deep into real India that exist in the rural sector. A peep into their lives, to recognise, respect and reward the grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge holders, creative children and centenarians has taught us a great deal about genius at grassroots.
It was a two day program 29-30th Aug 09 in which we had to cover 10 villages. In order to begin shodhyatra early morning on 29th, we reached the start point of shodhyatra a day before (MADRAK, Aligarh). Another reason for which we had planned to stay for night in that village was to get in touch with more farmers during the night.
Day 1, (29 Aug, 2009)
Meeting with farmers was scheduled at 7:30 am. Basic agenda was to develop awareness about organic farming and its benefits. Focus was also to make them realise the insidious impact of using chemicals and pesticides on producers as well as on consumers.
Two way knowledge sharing and finding solutions to day-to-day problems faced by farmers were dealt with. E.g A solution to a major and a very common problem of termites attacking their crops was provided that involved placing stacks of eucalyptus (which attracts all termites) in the field rather than spraying harmful and expensive chemicals to curb their growth. As was planned we also interact with around 300 students of different schools. In order to involve more and more students, few competitions were held like… Idea Competition, Herbarium competition and recipe competition. Via herbarium and recipe competition, good response was seen but the response for idea competition wasn’t too good… but then we tried and explained it by both open interaction and also by showing them the clippings on laptop of the innovations done by different people around the country. Different ways were tried and adopted to have an open and better discussion like by means of small stories, things were told which not only helped in maintaining their interest but also made it all easy to understand.
At around 9:00 AM, Shodhyatra left Madrak and proceeded towards the next village Nagla Pooran which is around 1 KM away from the first point. This village is comparatively much smaller than the first one even than response from farmers here was far better than in comparison to Madrak.
At around 11:30 AM, Shodhyatra reached a village called Nhoti, in this village we got some herbal practitioners who heel the people by the use of natural resources. After “Nhoti” Shodhyatra covered villages Keeratpur and Mainath. In all these villages we mainly discussed advantages of organic farming over usage of chemical fertilizers and tried to interact with as many students as we could and look for their innovative ideas. After Mainath, Shodhyatra approached towards a school where we had planned our night stay. This school was close to two villages. People in both these villages were made aware in advance about the Shodhyatra. People from both these villages were very much interested in coming to that place for a night meet. A musical program was arranged for the evening where villagers presented few Lokgeet. The number of villagers visiting us would have been more if the heavy rain would not have been there that night.
Day 2, (30 Aug, 2009)
Second day Shodhyatra reached Manoharpur, at around 7:45 am. When we reached at the venue of meeting in the village there were hardly 10-15 people but within a span of 10-15 minutes, more than 400 people joined. Hundreds of women, children and farmers were there to meet us. This kind of response from a comparatively small village drove our spirits high. Here, a lot of discussion with village women was made, emphasis was laid on the importance of education thereby helping children become better citizens and above all good human beings.
After a great response in Manoharpur, Shodhyatra proceeded towards Bhakraula. In this village we met some very good herbal practitioners. Further, we also covered three more villages Dolra, Khadia and Badhauli.
We formed a data base collecting contact numbers of farmers so that they can further be informed and updated regarding new technology or new ideas that can be utilised in their farming.
Overall, we not only learned but also enjoyed refreshing greenery, openness, fresh natural airs, pastoral beauty, and touching and winsome rustic simplicity. Far away from the hustle and bustle of congested cities’ life, and polluted air & ambience, we all loved to have fresh comforting breezes, lavish openness, and pleasant journey interacting with candid villagers.