Trip Start Aug 09, 2008
48Trip End Aug 2009
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We stayed with Jeevan Verma and his family near the town of Kanda, in the Kumaon valley, close to the Himalayan mountains. Getting there was a bit of a challenge. We took a train from Haridwar to Kathgodam, and then rode in a shared taxi (these are jeeps that serve as mini buses picking up passengers going to specific destinations) which is a popular mode of transport in the mountains, since there are no autorickshaws.
The ride was through the mountains with spectacular scenery along the way, which somewhat compensated for the continuously winding, hilly climb for the7 hours it took to reach our next transit stop
We stayed with R.O.S.E. for 4 days and got a sense of rural life in the Kumaon Valley and some of the challenges faced by the farmers. Jeevan mentioned that life in the village has changed, in that where at one time, entire households would pitch in and work the farm, today, most men have jobs outside, kids go to school and so the farm work falls on the women. And the work these women do is just amazing. They are up at the crack of dawn and take care of the farming, cooking, household and day-to-day stuff. Most of the work they do in the field is hard physical labour. We saw women carrying large loads of wheat or grain up and down steep hills, threshing wheat by hand, and plowing fields. All of the work involved manual labour, with little mechanized practices
We saw some projects that had been completed by previous volunteer groups, like solar lighting for houses that could not afford electric light, and construction of a community centre and provisions store where low-income farmers could purchase supplies. Seeing what could be done by volunteers working with the local community made us realize how important it is to have a plan or project to work on rather than just showing up and hoping to make a difference. We decided to leave R.O.S.E. earlier than planned because we felt somewhat useless as we had no specific tasks to do.