Practice English Speaking&Listening with: PWB Series: Mountains United

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My name is Matthew DeLorme,

and I am a professional photographer.

With sort of the way the world is morphing right now

I think telling other peoples stories

and feeling a little bit more compassionate

and conveying that passion through your work

is kind of key for human connection right now.

The Pan Himalayan Grassroots Foundation

has been doing work in this province

for about 25 years now, it's their 25th anniversary.

It was started by Kalyan and Anita,

and they moved up here in a time

when things up here were different.

We formed Grassroots in 1992

but we started living in the mountains in 1987, and

those initial years actually we

just walked and talked with mountain communities because

We had never lived in mountain communities,

we didn't know what the issues were.

But then to get a nice exposure on what the challenges are

for these mountain communities, we spent a lot of time

just interacting.

Based on these conversations

we kind of had a little bit of an idea that we

wanted to do sustainable mountain developent,

and that led us to kind of initiating a holistic plan,

aimed at improving the quality of life for these people here

and also address some of the challenges

that are important to be looked at in the long term.

By far the biggest problem people were facing,

communities were facing when we came here in '92,

we did a survey of sixty villages over here

and it came out that the top priority was the drinking water crisis.

People had shortage of drinking water to the extent that

almost seventy percent of the Nola's,

the natural, the traditional water sources,

they had dried up.

So people are at a huge, huge, crisis regarding drinking water.

We believe that to improve quality of life

there has to be some technological inputs

some changes have to be brought and it can't be business as usual.

Apropriate technology means something which

can be managed by people, it's small, it's appropriate.

Could be implemented easily

and handed over to the communities to be able

to take it forward and sustain in future.

We came across this gentleman called Dr. Tim Rees,

so he was a geohydrologist,

and Dr. Rees conceptualized, designed, and trained,

people like us on how to build an infiltration well in the mountains.

So it's a classical take off of the traditional nola.

With his technical knowledge,

we started making the infiltration wells

so we could get enhanced quantities

of safe drinking water,

and Grassroots actually started becoming

popular with the communities

because of this appropriate technology.

Because the vegetal cover in this river basin

and many others were changed during the colonial times.

It was predominantly the oaks

which is a broad leafed, evergreen tree over here.

But during the colonial era because of the exploitation

and removal of the oaks, what has happened is now

80-90 percent of the landscape

is filled with pine trees.

So what the oaks do is because they've got

a wide canopy, so when the rain falls

so it helps reduce the kinetic energy of the rain

and it helps in renewing the hydrology

because it allows the seepage of the water

unlike the pine trees.

The thing that's impacted me most about this trip

is that, it's really been the women

we've met, and how strong they are.

They are incredibly strong.

They're vibrant, vibrant people,

they're tough as nails. They're not only

you know, maybe, like

mentally and emotionally strong,

they are physically strong as well.

Unfortunately our women are still dependant on firewood

as the main source of domestic energy.

And today we've reached such levels that you even

little bit that we are withdrawing from the forest

for cooking our own food is also now harming

and the fact is, it's not there

people are trudging as far as

four to five kilometers, spending

four to six hours a day just getting

wood to cook thier food.

It just doesn't make sense.

So biogas is, every farmer

will have some amount of cattle right,

so cattle means there is cow dung available with the farmer

and thats the manure, thats the farm yard manure

that they use.

So we use the methane out of the cow dung.

To turn it, to do the combustion of that

and that turns into gas which a farmer could then use

in their kitchen for cooking.

None of these things are part of the traditional wisdom

at the village level, you know.

I mean traditionally in India,

people didn't need it. They didn't need a biogas digester

and therefore the masons in our villages, they don't know

much about a biogas digester.

So, this new quarter of people whom we train

to take appropriate technologies down to the grassroots,

we call them Barefoot engineers

because they are not trained as engineers.

Most of them haven't even been through school

more than a couple of years.

I think that the biggest impact I've seen

as pertaining to the women of these villages is the

the empowerment.

They've taught them to become leaders

and they've taught them to become connected,

and they've taught them to rely on eachother for strength,

and they've taught them community,

and that's huge.

See Grassroots is supposed to be the spear head team.

You know, so we spearheaded an idea

it took it's roots. The women were ready to shoulder it.

So they've taken our help in creating their own organization,

Umang, as a producers company.

They are 100 percent shareholders of that business

and they are capable of running it.

Right now we are in this village called Naini,

and this is the headquarters of Umang.

In order to generate livelihoods

we started by hand knitting.

It's a skill we thought which existed, kind of

for people doing it for their own use

so we kind of upgraded that skill a little bit

and made it a little more friendly

which could be linked to the market then bought.

So if you really look at the role of Umang

it's not that you're giving out

'x' number of dollars that's important to them,

for these women it's also become an identity over the years.

That identity for them is very important.

And so the holistic approach of

giving these people a means to make income and to take

these self help groups, these networks of women

they knit, or they farm, or they plant trees

and they clean up their environment, it's huge.

It's not just fising one thing, it's teaching them to fix

all the things around them, to plant trees so that the land

can retain water, that their wells fill

and they have clean sources of water

and they have the money to pay for this,

and they're connected as a community

and they have a sense of community.

They're teaching them to take action for themselves,

and that's why it's important.

I think this model of small organizations

playing a catalytic role in the communities that they're living

looking at a community as a wholistic kind of unit

and not just doing one intervention

is something that we could definitely share with others

and that process has begun.

The backbone of these mountains

you know the economy, the ecology,

the security and everything over here

it rests on the shoulders of these women

and it has been so for a long, long time.

They want these people to take the initiative

to continue on, to spread what they've started

throughout, and to continue to heal this land and

their environment and look at it as, 'we live in a beautiful place',

'we have a good life, we've done this'

'we're going to carry this torch'.

The Description of PWB Series: Mountains United