CPP Broncos Make Friends in India

Cal Poly Pomona chapter works to build a strong connection with villagers on their second trip to India

In early September of 2015, five of our dedicated members embarked on a long awaited second chapter trip to the Tanda, Jadgishpur, and Jhundpur adopted villages in the North Indian state of Haryana. Fortunately receiving University funding to cover airfare, the trip attendees were excited to progress our project involvement in the villages. The trip attendees included the following: President Pooja Kumar, Vice President Clarissa Tan, Director of Marketing and Publicity Arianna Acosta, and two alumni Nicole Ige and Neetha Puthran. RISHI members spent two weeks in these villages to build a stronger relationship with the residents, partner with social enterprises and NGOs whose views most align with our own, and collect data on the condition of the village and its inhabitants.

To acclimate the villagers to our presence, RISHI members conducted a small series of village relations initiatives (VRIs) that reflected the observations we made during our first brief visit. The first of which was a sports camp held in the Jhundpur primary school conducted in response to the deficit of extracurricular activities in the public school system. The chapter provided modest, but lasting soccer equipment to the school and demonstrated principles of teamwork as members organized games, allowing students to harbor the idea of an active lifestyle as well as building teamwork and social skills. Despite being unfamiliar with the rules, most of the children were very interested in soccer and new a element of their school experience. Pomona RISHI members are hoping to facilitate further projects to motivate students to attend school regularly and avoid dropping out at an early age.

As we discovered on our first trip to the villages, many of the secondary school students show great interest in learning science. Unfortunately, only a small portion of their academic curriculum is able to address the topic. To integrate more science into their education, we held a science camp that demonstrated unique principles of physics. By utilizing Oobleck, a fascinating material that seemingly defies Newtonian laws, we discussed the states of matter with the Jhundpur students. The children’s attention was captured by the experiments; many expressed interest in learning more. The headmaster of the secondary school was also impressed with the camp and encouraged future collaboration. The science camp even starred in a small section in the local Haryana newspaper!

With various diseases prominent in the village and poor access to health care, the final VRI took its form as a health camp. We partnered with Dr. Rakesh Rai, a man with years of experience in the AMAN nonprofit organization, to address the general ailments of several villagers for no charge. Besides treating patients the best he could, Dr. Rai educated children about the spread of infectious disease and the importance of good hygiene. He is interested in partnering with us on a monthly basis to address the most prevalent health issues of HIV, anemia, tuberculosis, dengue fever, malaria, and malnutrition.

While the VRIs hold an invaluable place in our 2015 India Trip, they do not address the source of disparities in the adopted villages and promote our long term goals in the village. To identify issues that are central to the target villages, we collected extensive data on the community. For instance, comprehensive water tests revealed threatening contaminants in the
 drinking supply of each village. Networking with local doctors, dispensaries and families aided in deducing the origin of the most ubiquitous maladies in the community. Trends in village surveys hinted why some students missed school and why some adults were unemployed.

Lastly, accomplishing another goal to establish sustainable connections, the Pomona chapter of Project RISHI is proud to announce a partnership with the International Group of Institutions (IGI), Sonepat University students within the College of Pharmacy. These students not only were key towards obtaining surveying information but also greatly assisted with the implementation of the VRIs this most recent trip. Moving forward, IGI students and RISHI members will greatly be in contact to further address disparities present in the village.

Currently, our expanding understanding of the village disparities is serving as an intellectual foundation for planning much larger, sustainable solutions. Pairing informed solutions with relevant partners and resources, the Cal Poly Pomona chapter of Project RISHI hopes to implement these solutions in the Summer of 2016.

Author(s) of article: TJ Sokolich and Victoria De La Rosa

Originally published at www.projectrishi.org.