Friday, October 1, 2010

Working with students from the University of Washington

The University of Washington has donated $ 550 towards building and repairing rainwater harvesting systems in Kuruburkunte, a village on the outskirts of Bangalore. A group of 24 students led by Prof Catherine Goethals were visiting India as part of their program titled “Half the Sky~Women and Entrepreneurship”. During their visit, Catherine contacted the Biome Trust and expressed a desire to participate in some community work. We arranged for them to visit and work in Kuruburkunte, a village where we have already worked. During 2005-2006, Biome (then the Rainwater Club) had worked with the local community to install rainwater collection tanks in peoples homes and also the local school. This has been documented by film maker Sushma Veerappa in the film titled “Bringing Home Rain”. It can be viewed at:

On 18th September, the entire group sans two students who had fallen sick (upset stomach!) headed out to the village. Mr Ramakrishnappa met us there and after the initial round of tea and snacks we got to work. Mr Ramakrishnappa has been associated with Biome for over 5 years. He is the person who anchored the effort first time around in terms of organising the villagers and actually building the tanks. In the process Mr Ramakrishnappa acquired masonry skills which he has since been putting to good use, building rainwater harvesting systems in and around Bangalore.
We divided ourselves into three groups and tackled different tasks. Catherine had indicated that they would like to spend about half a day in the village so we broadly identified the following jobs:
- Painting an existing rainwater collection tank in the village school
- Installing a 1000 litres “rain barrel” to collect rainwater from the temple roof
- General cleanup

The group kicked off work, mixing cement, carrying bricks, cleaning up and painting the tank. By the end of about 3 hours we had pretty much achieved what we wanted to accomplish. There was some work remaining in terms of fixing pipes etc which Mr Ramakrishnappa completed over the next 2-3 days. The students have recorded their day on their blog, complete with photographs.


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