Experience working in SWASH Village project in Rait village

Hi, I am Pooja from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi in India.    

I am very glad to work in SWASH Village project. I have learned many things here. I was always improving myself. This was a really good platform for me. I feel proud to has been part of SWASH Village program and NGO EduCARE-India’s ViKAAS Centre. This has been my second time working as a volunteer intern in SWASH Village project in Rait village in Himachal Pradesh, India. 

There are many things that popped into my head when i`m thinking about my work. Ordering my thoughts, I would focus my feeling on the arrival to the NGO facility in Rait village and the engagement with the community, especially building relationship with the kids of the village as well as with the shopkeepers/ and trash holder. I immediately fell in love with the hilly region of Himachal Pradesh and I mean it, it`s such a  beautiful place! 

I still remember my first day meeting with the shopkeepers and local government head and other village government (Gram Panchayat) members. At that time I did not understand how could I deal with them, but after few weeks I found my way. 

Spending time with the kids in Fun Club was extremely funny! We did different activities and games every Sunday in Rait Government School. We also had the possibility to prepare some educational activities related to the Waste Management and Sanitation. The kids really liked it! 

I definitely enjoyed my job as Project Manager for SWASH village Project.  I would like to share some photos representing the path I followed during my experience in the SWASH Village project while working as an volunteer intern at ViKAAS Centre facility of NGO EduCARE India. 

At the beginning of my volunteer-internship, I started to work with Kevin, the SWASH Coordinator. We had a meeting with Mr Sitaram, a waste contractor a Mcleodganj. We had a great conversation about the SWASH project and solid waste management system: how can they separate the trash, how many were the different kind of trash etc.

SWASH meeting in Mcleod Ganj with Sitaram son

Then, together with Sylvia, Madhu, Craig and Tom, I went to meet the local Government and all its other members (Gram panchayat) and some local prominent community members. It was our first step to try to engage the community and it was very successful.

Meeting with local Government Gram Panchayat in BDO Office

Below here, you can see the samples of waste trash collected form the shopkeepers for further sale to the waste contractor / trash collector. We built a very good relationship with the contractor.

Selling our trash in Rait

Alongside the SWASH Village project, I participated with other volunteer interns in the project Fun club with the kids and it was amazing! Every time they do something funny with us. The girls are always very happy to see us in Girls Club. We also found out that involving the mothers in the Girls Club in our office has been very beneficial in maintaining the girls’ interests and focus. Plus, it is also a good platform to engage with the kids’ mothers and the families overall increasing our NGO work visibility and for discussing SWASH village project. 

Charming village kids at the Fun Club and Girls Club

Our Girls Club activities

I am back home in Varanasi now and feel sad that I had to leave my project work, Rait volunteers-interns team and the community. I will miss everybody and our amazing house. I will try to express my feelings for my good friends writing down a few words:

Forever is a very long time. How is it that people can talk so casually about a concept that we cannot even wrap our minds around? Sometimes we have a friend and we sense that our souls are very closely connected. We know that the connection is above time and space. We know that wherever we are in our lives we will always remain friends. Even if we do not see each other for years we are able to pick up right where we left off. This is what people mean when they say friends forever.

Friends Forever 2015-2016

THANK YOU to SWASH Village and Rait team; 

THANK YOU to EduCARE India !

Pooja Gautam

SWASH Village Project 

Manager  (Intern)

Rait, India