September 2012 CORDUSA News

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My son Kapil and I had an amazing trip this summer that took us into the heart of rural communities in India. 

  • We met a 17-year-old girl who is a little taller than 3 feet and looks like a toddler because of nutritional issues and health conditions.
  • We met with Kanchana, a disabled lady who needs to be carried by her mother even to the bathroom, but kept smiling and knitting beautiful bags through her hardships.  
  • We went to school in a slum where the teachers bathed, fed and readied every student they taught!  

Slum-settlement in Kangra Valley
How can I complete this newsletter without talking about these incredible people I met?  But first, let us look at the activities across CORD.
CORD Sri Lankaadopts a school in Tharmapuram, Killinochi. In one of the most affected areas by war, where the primary focus is survival, CORD takes an extra initiative to help provide education for children in the community. They have started teaching English and providing children with after-school snacks and sports equipment. They are continuously working with the school to continue further development.  Read more
CORD Siruvanicontinues to promote health. During the last quarter, approximately 1000 patients were examined and treated for various illnesses along with approximately 150 villagers who received vaccination against Hepatitis B.  They also held an immunization camp for children where around 70 of them received MMR vaccine and an eye camp where 40 patients were examined, 11 of which were taken for cataract surgery.  Read more
CORD Thamaraipakkamfacilitated the State Government’s Farmer’s Awareness’ camp at Vadhatur Panchayat where several government departments participated and explained their schemes to the farmers.  Some of the departments present were: agriculture, horticulture, department of certification of quality of seeds and revenue department. The knowledge and expertise received during this training will undoubtedly raise the standards of farming in the area. Read more
As one of India’s largest challenges is nutritional security, CORD Deuladhiha’s mission is to provide regular access to nutritional food by educating and empowering local farmers. This priority has led CORD Deuladhiha to introduce the cultivation of the paddy system under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). CORD Deuladhiha has prompted for paddy under SRI in 20 hectors of land and paddy under line transportation in 100 hectors of land by 276 farmers.   Read more ….
Swami Kevalananda joined CORD Lathikata and conducted a health awareness program in various villages as part its mission to improve the quality of health care in rural India. Swamiji educated people on a healthy lifestyle, including proper food habits, hygiene, yoga, pranayam, and overall health.  He discussed alternative medicine practices that use local herbs, shrubs and plants to cure many diseases if applied according to the ayurvedic system of medicine. Swamiji also distributed ayuverdic medicines to ailing patients at no cost.  Read more
Service Visit groupwith Didi
When we hear the accounts of individuals who complete a CORD Service visit to Sidhbari we can feel the tremendous impact CORD has made on the lives of so many.  A group of individuals were able to partake in this unique opportunity this summer. They witnessed CORD Sidhbari’s long-standing goal to empower women, children, and the disabled. Seeing such selfless work changed many of them as they realized that true service requires one to go above and beyond oneself for the greater good of all.  Read more on our facebook page.
As I wrote earlier, my son and I did an incredible journey this summer.  It started with CORD Siruvani located in Thennamanallur, one of the villages in the Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu.  The CORD program there is headed by Dr. Meera Krishna who received accolades for her selfless service recently by The Hindu, (see here).  She took us to the medical camp and her clinic in Thennamanallur.  I got to interact with the CORD health assistants and while there, Kapil taught the Bala Vihar children how to draw a portrait.
At Mullangadu
Later in our travels, we went to Puthur, and visited the tribal village of Mullangadu.  It’s in Mullangadu, where we met the 3-foot-17-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia.  Meera akka told me that she used to run away and hide. It took them a few visits to make her feel more at ease and help her understand that they were well-wishers.
Our next adventure was trying to get to Sidhbari.  It’s a small town situated in the foothills of the Dhauladhar Mountains, about six kilometers from Dharamshala and about 15 kilometers from McLeodGanj where the 14th Dalai Lama lives.  The last time I went there, there was a flight that would take you from Delhi to Dharamshala. Well…not any more.  Kapil and I had an eventful train ride from Old Delhi to Pathankot in Punjab.  CORD Sidhbari received us from Pathankot for the 2-hour ride to the center.
Kshama didi
Of course, you all know of Dr. Kshama Metre.  She was bestowed the Padma Shri by Indian government in 2008 in honor of her magnanimous work.  It’s always such an incredible experience meeting and talking with Kshama didi.  Her wisdom and maturity enthralls you.  Her name is shortlisted in “The Guardian International Development Achievement Award”, please take a moment to cast your vote at:
Explaining how vermicompost works
While at Sidhbari, I visited the Jhiyol and Sakoh Jatehad Panchayats to get a glimpse of CORD’s programs.  When I was visiting the Panchayats, Kapil stayed back at the CORD facility, making Kangra paintings with the hearing impaired youth group and bead necklaces with the disabled children. 
Wherever I went – be it a women’s group, farmer’s group or a Panchayat member’s house, we were received with tea, mangoes, biscuits and crackers!  We were at one farmer’s place looking at his Vermin compost when I told him I really cannot have any more tea. He gestured to his wife and she quickly came offering me a big steel tumbler full of milk! 
She invited us to play with her
Later, we visited CORD Thamaraipakkam, a small village tucked 29 kilometers away from Chennai.  CORD Thamaraipakkam is headed by Mr. PN Kannan, a quiet man who becomes very eloquent and caring when it comes to CORD programs and the participants.  There, we went to see Pakkam Tailoring Center, set up by the ladies and young girls trained from CORD center, and then we continued on to Sivanvoyal and Nelvoy Hamlets to talk to the self-help groups.  There we saw a woman’s group and a disabled group screen printing and making paper bags that are given out by Chinmaya Publications.  Kapil was very fascinated while watching and he learned how to make the paper bags.  It is in Nelvoy that I met Kanchana.
Making paper bags
While in India, I also had a chance to discuss and exchange notes with Mona Malkani, who works at the CORD Head office in Delhi.
After the trip, both Kapil and I came back with many memories and little trinkets we started collecting from everywhere.  We felt blessed having an opportunity to see these incredible people.  Someone told me, it’s about making a difference in the lives of the people we meet, however, I feel, it is about meeting the people making the difference in their lives!
My big thanks to Shabana and Paulomi for helping me with the newsletter.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I am just an email away.

Thank you