15th July 2014
IR9 have settled into village life after one week of our placement. Kottadai is surrounded by the beautiful hills of Tamil Nadu with an unbeatable panoramic view from the shower. To date, we have visited the homes of villagers, the local primary school and walked to a viewpoint through the surrounding farmland and rugged, hilly land surrounding Kottadai. As we are in the hills, it often rains and so the land is lush and green.
Volunteers from the UK and India have worked well alongside each other, more so as the week progressed and we formed our committees, engaged in language lessons and helped the local village lady make chappatis. It has been fun getting to know each other better and most importantly learning about each other’s cultures and social norms. We have, after much practise, become very adept at using the phonetic alphabet in readiness for our duty as day leader of the group, a role we must all adopt on a rotating basis.
The village children have been especially welcoming and demonstrated real excitement and keenness to engage with us volunteers. Despite having little English, the English volunteers as well as the Indian volunteers have managed to communicate and bond well with local children and enjoy playing cricket, games of Carrom Board (an Indian board game resembling pool in principle)and just enjoy each other’s company, especially during free time after our evening meal.
As a team we have bonded well as friends and as a dynamic workforce, having successfully built the first of many long-drops, cleaned existing community toilets, fashioned tarpaulin around a pre-existing shower area (so as to retain some British modesty!), dug pits for disposal of our used toilet paper and food waste and made our first Tippy-Tap. The team leaders established a job rota which has thus far run very smoothly; we have become very proficient at the renowned Raleigh ‘three-bowl’ washing system. With IR9 Raleigh rules always apply!
Over the next week we plan to hold a village sports day, a women’s night and commence the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) for which we have received training with the Raleigh-affiliated local Non-Government Organisation: MYRADA. Stay tuned for more IR9 news. Kottadai love!