Guliyada volunteers greeted with open arms

12th March 2014

IR9 Feb 20.02.14 vols speaking at myrada event smallDSCF1161

Since we have arrived in Guliyada just over one week ago, our team (India Romeo Nine) has had a fantastic start to our ten week project. As soon as we arrived in the village we were greeted with open arms, and in return we have embraced the village culture. We've really enjoyed playing and learning with the children and interacting with the elder members of the village. On one of our first nights, we were invited by our village leader to join them in an evening of music and dance. It was a fun and unique experience – they taught us some traditional Tollywood dancing and in return they got to see a slice of the British clubbing experience. Likewise as the children pick up some English from us, we are trying are hardest to learn some Tamil. This cross cultural learning has been one of the highlights of our first few weeks.

Working in partnership with Myrada, a regional development charity, our primary focus for the project is livelihoods. As part of a government sponsored intuitive, Myrada has provided the village with resource yielding trees such as lemon and lime plants. However they are at risk of being damaged or eaten by local livestock. As part of our work we have been building natural barriers out of lantana plants to protect the trees. Lantana is a thistle weed that grows in the surrounding areas. We have been cutting it down and arranging it in a cage like structure around the trees, using wood and vines to hold it in place. Not only does lantana protect the trees from cattle and other animals, it gives the saplings well needed shade in the hot midday sun.

IR9 Feb 20.02.14 vols speaking at myrada event smallDSCF1161
In order to make sure the 7 principles of the ICS project are fulfilled, we delegated responsibilities by setting up committees and assigning chairs and co chairs. One of the committees whose work is key to phase one is the Action Research and Resource Development committee. They have started conducting a Participatory Rural Appraisal – a tool we use to gain a better understanding of the history, workings and needs of the village. This involves working as a team with the village and not only does it have gains for the project, it allows us as individuals to form relationships and ties in the community.
When a government official came to the village, we seized the opportunity to talk at the meeting, giving us a chance to address the whole village and also create awareness locally of Raleigh and Myrada. In the next few days we will be going door to door, conducting a Health and Wellbeing survey. We are really looking forward to the chance to talk face to face with every member of the community. And making ourselves known as a friendly and familiar presence in the community; not just visitors.