Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Namma Neeru

So finally, here is the edited video that I took forever to upload! Any feedback and comments are most welcome!

Namma Neeru (Our Water) from Aajwanthi on Vimeo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bottle neer yaake? Malai Neer ok!

Mr Vishwanath was visiting the School on the 23rd with Vessela Monta, head of International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance for the inaugural function of the completed rainwater tank. I wanted to see the finished tank and show the kids what I had been working on as well, so tagged along. Sadly, It was a holiday weekend and they were not at school but the tank was done and looked great and we had a small and sweet inaugural function that was organised by the BIAF team in C.K Pura. Here is an image of the finished tank. It reads "Bottle neer yaake? Malai neer ok!" (Why do you need bottled water? Rain water is ok!)I thought that was brilliant! Drawing from Kannada Super star Upendra's UB campaign where he says "Yella ok, cool drink yaake?" (Everything is ok, why do you need a cool drink?)!

The bright blue pump inside the kitchen in the school, to pump out water from the tank

Getting ready for the inaugural ceremony

Mr.Vishwanath giving an introduction and talking to everyone about the importance of the tank

After this, we walked around the village to show Vessela the various rainwater harvesting tanks that were there and functioned properly and we were graciously given lots of nice cold water to drink, from each one of these tanks. One of the ladies we visited said that her supply, instead of lasting her most of the year, gets over in 6-7 months because people who passed by, would stop and ask her for rainwater to drink, which she undoubtedly could not deny them.

Mr.Vishwanath, Vessela and Mr.Ramakrishna talking to the lady whose home the tank was in.

Mr.Ramakrishna drinking water from the rainwater tank.

He was kind enough to pump some water from his tank for us to drink.

Mr.Mohan pouring it into glasses

We stopped at a school on the way to Pavagada to see the state of the rainwater tank there. It was a sad sight. The pipes were broken and probably stolen or taken away and the tank looked like this. It had been positioned in such a bad place as well (Right in the middle of the entrance to the classes). Even if it had been near the wash rooms, it could have been used as a water storage tank. This tank was built as past of the Suvarna Jala Project.

"Under Suvarna Jala scheme started in 2007, Karnataka Government released Rs.73.66 crores for providing rooftop rainwater harvesting structures to rural government schools. Out of 45,337 schools in the state, 23,683 have been reportedly identified under this scheme. So far 20,760 schools have been provided roof top rainwater harvesting at an estimated cost of Rs.5 crores.

Last year, Arghyam, a Bangalore based NGO that is becoming well-known in the water conservation scenario, has conducted a efficiency survey of this scheme in seven districts. In Chamarajanagara, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Dharwar, Gadag and Tumkur districts, out of 1269 structures completed, only 140, a dismal 11 per cent was functional.

Based on their survey, Arghyam had made several recommendations to the state government to execute the rest of the scheme in a result-oriented way. Unfortunately, not much by way of positive developments have come about later."

Read the rest of this article from India Together here and here is a video from the Araghyam site which gives the status report of this project. It clearly says what one needs to do in order for this system to work. My project addresses a small part of the larger solution.

Final Outcomes

We had our final submission a few days ago. Here are the Version 2.0 of the things I submitted. It's not over yet though. Am preparing for my final juries that are coming up next week and trying to crunch this 4 month project into 15 minutes.The thought itself scares me.

Final Toolkit

The hand washing bottle

The project Documentation

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where did the past month go?

My desk has looked like this for the past one month. Papers with variations of layouts, fonts, different books and sites I had been referring to, for the content for my toolkit. First I had to fixed a size and decided to go with Saakshi’s suggestion of looking at the golden proportion and tried to fix the margins according to that! Trying to fix a size that had minimum paper wastage, the right margins and fonts, etc itself took me a whole week to get right!

After this, I wrote out the text that went in and chose the images that I wanted in the manual, to make a master sheet. Then came the tiring job of fixing a navigation system and layout. I still have to get it proofread but this is a test print I took in college. After Mr.Vishwanath’s and Rustam’s feedback, quite a few things including the cover, have changed. I will be going to the printers for an actual test print and binding to check for errors in the margin and colours tomorrow or day after. I will put those images up once I am done.

Now that this is nearly done, I am trying to work on the video that goes with the toolkit. I am currently trying to shorten and transcribe it and will have to fine-edit and add the subtitles once I get feedback.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A fluoride mitigation course taught by a fine teacher

I could possibly kill myself for not having found this earlier. Arghyam's India water portal has a comprehensive fluoride mitigation multimedia kit where a sweet old man comes and tells you about the basics of fluoride, fluorosis, solutions and projects are dealing with this. Perfect to show in the rural context or for beginners. What is even better is that it is available in Kannada! It would have been ideal for me to show the kids this. I will take it to them the next time I visit to say hi!


A lesson on fluoride in groundwater

The villagers responding to the facilitator's questions

The amount of fluoride some food items contain is shown in this chart

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Them as teachers

Them as teachers

Aim: To empower the students and make them share the knowledge they have gained

Closing the loop

Trying to make them retain more of what they have learnt

I went to talk to Arzu about my project a few weeks ago and she told me about this three tyre system. A Political Visionary (One who is in charge of the larger politics and functioning- could be in the NGO or funders in this case), a Conceptual visionary (One who conceptualises the vision which could be me, in this case) and a Practical visionary (which was also me because I was conducting all the workshops and making it happen). Instead, she said, why don’t you empower the children to be practical visionaries? I thought this was a great idea because I saw for myself that I learnt most when I had to teach and work with these kids. This would just empower them some more and make them feel confident about what they have learnt and share it with their schoolmates too. So, I told the 9th standard students to prepare an afternoon session for the 8th standard kids. I told them to write down what they would ask them or say to them. Beginning from the basics of what fluoride is, what it is present in and what its harmful effects were and what they needed to do about it. I gave them all the visual aid I had and told them that I was going to be a student and they should take the class and not ask me what to do. We set up chairs outside and they went out to start their lesson. Boy, were they awesome! Better than me any day! They make the little ones jump up with joy and test their respective village’s water that they were carrying in their bottles and stamped them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ water. The standard 8 kids were so excited that they wanted to test their school rainwater for fluoride and found that it had zero fluoride. They loved it. They also told them about rainwater and how to maintain a rainwater tank by cleaning the top of the roof up 10 minutes before they feel it is going to rain. They told them that they have to help each other maintain the tank that is going to provide them with fluoride free water.

Some of them gave up after some time and went back to class while a few stayed back to finish the lesson. This made me figure how many of them understood what I was talking about! I was surprised to find out that even though they were all in the same campus and the 8th std. Kids have been watching what I do with the 9th, they had no idea about what it was all about. Fluoride and rainwater was as new to them as when I started off with standard 9. It was great that they were able to share what they had learnt, though they told me at the end that they were a much better class. ‘These 8th standard kids are still small and irresponsible” they said!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Having fun with soap

Aim: To build an experience around hand washing and doing so with soap to integrate it with the bottle we had built earlier

Activity: 'Seeing the unseen' was the most effective theme running through these activities. When they see something, it affects them much more than talking about it (like in the case of testing for fluoride). First I spoke to them about soap and what it does. Then I showed them images of virus and bacteria and hands under UV light so that they could see these microscopic germs. It would have been ideal to carry a microscope and show them their hands under them, but sadly I was not able to source one on time. They were really grossed out by the image of the hand infested with bacteria and exclaimed asking if they really had that many germs on their hands!

(Images above are from google)

Then I gave them sheets with my examples and told them to draw their own germ. Something that they thought was on their hand and name their germ. After which, we went out to wash this germ off their hands. Here are some of the things they came up with. One of them named her germ after another girl in her class!

Then I demonstrated a simple experiment using oil, water and soap to show them how soap works and a little bit about the chemistry behind soap. Here is the experiment.

1| Take two jars and fill them half full of water. Add a drop or two of food colouring and shake.

2| Add some cooking oil to both the jars.

3| Add a few squirts of liquid soap to one of the jars. Put the lids back on tight and shake them for about 30 seconds.When you first put them down, there's not much difference between the two jars. The oil and water molecules are all quite well mixed together.

4| After only a minute or so, you'll start to see the jar with just oil and water in it start to re-separate. The jar with the soap in it is still mixed together.

5| After several minutes, the oil and water only jar has almost completely separated again , but the jar with the soap is still mixed! (as you can see in the bottom right image)

Soap, water and oil are all made up of molecules. Some molecules are hydrophillic, meaning they are attracted to water, and some molecules are hydrophobic meaning they are repelled by water. Oil and water don't mix.

Well that's where soap comes in. Soap is actually a very long molecule that has one hydrophillic end and one hydrophobic end. The water sticks/bonds with the hydrophillic end and the oil sticks/bonds to the hydrophobic end. Two opposing molecules with the soap in the middle. As the water is rinsed away, the soap sticks to the water, and the oil sticks to the soap. Clean!

That's what's happened in the jar. The jar with just oil and water quickly separates. In the jar with the soap added, however, the oil and water stay mixed together for much longer.

After this, I asked them who all had soap at home and was surprised to see all of them raise their hands. I asked them how many of them use it to wash their hands and about 4 put their hands up, I doubt they also do it regularly :) These were only the hostel kids who were given soap for free in their hostel. They proudly announced that they got Mysore sandal soap (the more expensive variety)! Many kids used Lifeboy or Medimix which was the cheapest in the shop we visited. Around Rs.6- Rs.10 a bar. They use it only when they have a bath (twice or thrice a week) and once a day to wash their face. They wanted it to last longer and hence did not want to 'waste' it to wash their hands with them. So, I tried explaining to them that it is essential to wash off those germs from their hands and that they would have to spend much more (I found out that they approximately spend around Rs.50 for consultation and Rs.50 for medicines) each time they visit the doctor in their village for gastric troubles or simple illnesses. We discussed how it is better they spend a little more and stay healthy than spend so much on the doctor and they seemed to agree!

Then, we went out to the courtyard and dissolved a bar of soap to make lots of soap solution for the whole school, to keep near their water tank for them to use. The rest we used to wash our hands and make bubbles and have fun. I taught them a hand washing song in English that we sang with actions. Then I explained to them what it meant and they helped me translate it into kannada and sang it in kannada too! They boys of course turned it into a local 'dappangutthu' type dance song, which was also pretty fun! I still have to upload the video from the casette, it will be up soon!

A hand washing song to the tune of Frere Jacques

Top and Bottom, Top and Bottom, (Rub top and bottom of hands)
In between, In between, (Rub fingers inside on both hands)
All around, All around, (Just like it says)
Makes them clean. Makes them clean. (Flash all ten fingers)

They asked me what they should do once this solution got over. Before I could answer, one of the kids said "this soap is for all of us right? Once this is over, we can all get small pieces from our big soap and make lots of solution and use it!" This was the highlight of my visit.

They took the bottle to lock it up in their principal's office at the end of the day so that no one would waste it! This would be an amazing system, if it works.

This was insightful in many ways. Even a small thing like soap can show class distinction where the hostel boys used Mysore sandal everyday while some of the lower class children used only Medimix and only when they had to. They all knew all the brands available in the two shops in their village though! How much each one costs and everything!