Yankee 8 : Community Action Day

15th July 2015

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The team has made great progress and had massive successes, especially within the Advocacy & Community Infrastructure, and Cross Cultural Committees. This week the team began construction on their very first toilet pits.

They split into three groups, and begun work at 3 different locations. Volunteers worked alongside the villagers to complete 3 digs, and begin a fourth. The work involved digging a circular pit (4ft in diameter and 4ft deep) where the waste shall run into as well as creating a 4x4ft square with a dug channel around it where the base and the walls of the toilet cubicle will be built. The rain provided challenges, but the team preserved and completed their digs.

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The Advocacy & Community Infrastructure Committee also began work on a petition for the villagers this week. The aim of this committee is to help empower the villagers to improve their village, and ensure they know their rights. When talking to the villagers, many told the team that the water tank was insufficient in size, and they struggled in the dry season with water scarcity. When visiting the Gram Panchayat (the local government) the previous week, Jovi & Scott asked for advice on how to get a larger water tank for Kulya. They were advised to start a petition and get 15 villagers to sign it. Yankee 8 walked door-to-door getting signatures for this petition, taking an ink pad as well so illiterate members of the community could be involved. Currently the petition has at 493 signatures!

All week the team has continued with English and Sanitation lessons at the school. One lesson was a drawing competition, in which the children designed a scene based around the use of a tippy tap. This is a simple contraption that allows hand washing whilst conserving water, as only a small amount is used. The winner’s design is to be made into a mural, which some members of Yankee 8 have already begun painting at the school.

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On Saturday, Yankee 8 ran activities that allowed the volunteers to integrate with the villagers. Lois ran a sports day for male youths (who are aged 18-34), although many school children joined in too. Games such as Cricket, Rounders and a sack race were included. That evening the Cross Cultural Committee held a Talent Show in the school grounds. This involved performances from all of Yankee 8 as well as village children, and attracted an audience of approximately 300 of Kulya's villagers.

Sunday was the team’s second Community Action Day during our time here.  All of Yankee 8, including Team Leaders, dressed in local dress of Sarees and lungis and paraded around the village with local children & drums, to attract attention. The parade ended at the school, where the team had multiple informative stalls set-up. These included: 3 bowls explanation demonstrating safe cleaning methods of utensils and water conservation, tippy tap & 7 steps of hand washing, the water tank petition, toilet application help, presentation of our house-hold survey results and a questions & answer stall with a hospital support worker. Every family who attended was given a card allowing them to claim a free silver-tree sapling donated by MYCAPS, our project partner. They had to visit every stall and collect signatures from the team before they could claim their tree. The day was a great success with a large number of villagers attending, and all 60 trees being claimed by different families.

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The volunteers then followed this event with a litter pick around the village. They split into groups with the local children, and covered the entire village, collecting numerous bags of litter. Overall, it has been a very busy, cultural and productive week for all of India Yankee 8 and Kulya with community integration reaching an all-time high.