April news that gives an idea of the work carried out in the last few months:
Right now we’ve been working on the landslide caused by the Aila cyclone. Lots of mud had to be cleared before putting up the wall. Lots of stones had to be bought and carried to put in the wall. For this landslide repairing work we had to put quite a few workers. We want to finish this landslide work before the monsoon begins. During December 2009 & January 2010, we worked on part of the SMVG beds. They were left there just like that unattended for almost three years. The beds were all shrunken. We dug and cleared the weeds. We put the mud from the landslide on to the SMVG beds. There was a problem at first where to throw that dirt/mud from the landslide. But we didn’t want to throw away our precious resources. So by putting that dirt in the sunken SMVG beds we killed two birds with one stone.
The doors of the buildings are all gone. We have to put proper and strong doors (weather resistant/man resistant) before we put anything in the building. Leaking roofs have to be fixed before the monsoon. I have made my temporary office in the kitchen which is the best part of the whole building. I have just white washed one of the four small rooms next to the kitchen to make my office. (one room we are using as our store and two rooms are used as sleeping quarters for Sabita, one of our staff, her mom and two children.) They will move to their house when the door work & the landslide work is finished. She is guarding the place right now.) I have to buy chairs and desks and other essential articles for the office and for other departments when we finish our door & landslide works.
The good news right now is, we have our new electricity connection. I can do my reporting & photo work in-between my supervision work. For the last two weeks Lalchand, Sabit and I have been counting stones, about fifteen thousand of them (15,000). Our retaining wall is eating stones like a big whale eating tiny fishes. Each stone (big) is worth Rs5/-. (The rock broker & the owner get Rs4/per stone and the carrier gets Re1/per stone.) We preferred local stones to put in the retaining walls because: firstly stones from Siliguri cost a lot because of the transportation. And the cement doesn’t stick to them properly as they are very round & smooth. Local stones are cheaper and we can get them on time. Most obvious reason is we want to give employment to our local village people. The unemployed men break the rocks and school children & young people carry them to our landslide site. The village people need money at this time of the year because of the children’s schools. They need money to buy new books, uniforms shoes etc. I am glad we could help some of the village people by buying their stones for our retaining walls. This way we killed two birds with one stone! I think I will be good in killing many birds with one stone soon!
This year 2010 seems to be very promising and full of hope for us. In terms of physical work, repairing, materials needed, money involved, energy and time, headache & heartache seem massive. The big thing is our work has begun. Our work has begun as a small seed and in time it will be a seedling and a plant.