Community Changes

Working to uplift the village could not be achieved by just giving the infrastructure a face-lift. The mindset of the people had to be changed. They had to somehow realize that in order for a complete change in their community, lifestyle improvements were necessary.

Prema_Community_work (1)

Prema Kumari was appointed for this important task. Despite having only a little training, she had the desire to be a part of this project and soon developed a strong commitment to the people. Her involvement began at the onset of construction when she motivated the people to actively participate in block making, educated them in the benefits of smokeless chulhas and helped instill a sense of pride and ownership in the families.

What else must be done to improve the community? Prema then began to bring some changes to the school system in the village. A small school catered to the younger children in the community, but interest was minimal and both the teacher and the students were very erratic in their attendance. An additional teacher was appointed to divide up the schedule and soon parents were eager to motivate their children in attending classes.

Children_school

Health and hygiene was another challenge. Stopping old habits and developing new ones is always a big hurdle to overcome. From runny noses to the cons of outdoor defecation, Prema worked on a variety of issues pertaining to children, men and women. A day programme at SVYM for the people was also organized on health and sanitation and soon the panchayat was approached about building toilets for each of the houses.

Prema worked with the women in the community. She taught them how to sign their names and taught them basic sewing. Over time, the people learnt the benefits of saving their earnings and with the help of Canara Bank, many opened bank accounts.

Prema often received hostility, criticism and resistance to her efforts. Through support groups and monthly programmes that were organized, positive outcomes were obvious. Henceforth, the people were grateful and she gained their trust.  A cleaner and friendlier neighbourhood is evidence of lifestyle improvements that will hopefully, over time be passed down through generations.

New Chulhas

chulha_construction3On a midwinter’s morning Mr. Ramesh Kikkeri (of  Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, SVYM) along with 4 volunteers visited Thimmaiyanadoddi to train home owners to make their own smokeless chulha. The  chulha was designed by IISc and Mr.Kikkeri has become proficient in building them.

Mr. Kikeri came to the village equipped with the form-work needed to build the chulha. Surrounded by enthusiastic villagers, he started demonstrating step by step methods to build the chulha. Two villagers came forward to volunteer with the building and we made a demo piece near the community center so that the villagers could refer to it anytime.

What did we need to prepare it?

chulha_construction

The following were the step-by-step method to build the smokeless chulha:

  1. Prepare the mix and keep aside in the ratio of 5:2.5:1 Mud: Quarry dust: Cement
  2. Keep the framework (mould) in place:
  • Align mould to wall perpendicular edge of wall. Check for placement of pipe beforehand. Use screw to fix frames.
  • Place inner mould with 3 circular cut-outs such that the smallest circular cut out is placed where pipe is to be fixed.
  • Check for alignment using aligning instrument.
  • Apply cow dung mix in the inner surface of the mould
  1. Ram earth inside the fixed frame. Earth has to be thoroughly rammed after every 6’’ layer of mix in the frame. 3-4 bricks can be used to keep the mould from buckling while ramming.
  2. Remove inner frame once the earth is rammed to surface level of lower mould.
  3. Place the upper mould on top of the rammed earth aligning with the external frame and repeat the process of ramming earth inside it.
  4. Check alignment for pipe fixing and fix 5’’ diameter pipe clamped to the wall so that once fired the smoke escapes outside the kitchen either through the wall or the roof.
  5. Place grating perpendicular to the chulha axis in the first and second circular cut out.
  6. De-mould the upper layer framework.
  7. Fixing M.S plate over the rammed earth while checking circular cutout alignment and place the recovery vessel in the upper layer cut out.

chulha_construction2

This whole process took around 3-4 hours and could be done by 2 adults. The chulha now had to be cured for a minimum of 7 days for firing and regular usage.

After the demonstration the villagers were very excited to build the chulha in their kitchen. Within a few weeks time the house owners built 6-8 chulhas all by themselves. Slowly the entire village was using smokeless chulha and their practice convinced us of the efficiency of this technology.