Monday, August 18, 2008


BASHA: afternoon meal
Originally uploaded by dalbhat
Today I visited Basha, which means "nest" in Bengali. This school was named to suggest that this is a place where children can get the protection and education they need to eventually take off and fly for themselves. The school started up about one year ago to provide basic primary education and health facilities to very young children from families who live in the nearby area. The students' parents work for very low wages as domestic help, drivers, rickshaw wallahs, mechanics, etc. and often find it hard to manage education for their children.

While going over the school budget and wish list with Saswati-di, the principal at Basha, I decided to use up the money that has been sitting with me from the last collection by Calcutta 100 Club. I added a little to make the amount we needed. Every evening, the children are served a meal of rice and dal, along with some other item like chicken or an egg, etc. This ensures that the child gets one nutritionally balanced meal each day and is an important part of the school program.

Thank you to our Calcutta 100 Club! We donated Rs. 4,800 (US$ 110) to pay for the rice supply for one year at the school. Basha uses 20 kg per of rice per month at Rs. 20 per kg for a total of Rs. 400 per month. To me, rice seemed like an essential – and something we can truly feel good about helping out with. I hope that next year at this time, we can raise that money again to keep this project sustainable.

Basha has also asked for help with teacher salaries. At the moment, the two teachers earn Rs. 600 per month (US$13.75). To show our appreciation for their important work and give them incentive to continue at Basha, we would very much like to increase this to Rs. 800 (a raise of $4.57) from the Puja festival season so let me know if you have any good fundraising ideas. Their raise would cost the exact same amount as the rice for 12 months.

I was given a breakdown of all food expenses for one month at the school:

Item Monthly need Rs./kg

Rice 20 kg 20

Wheat 10 kg 18

Milk 24 l 20/l

Cook.oil 7 l 95 l

Eggs 60 pc 2.5 pc

Chicken 6 kg 110/kg

Dal 3 kg 50

Sooji 4 kg 25

Kidney beans 2 kg 50

Dalia 10 kg 28

Channa 2 kg 35

Friday, August 15, 2008


Originally uploaded by dalbhat
Last week we started a small eco-club for my daughter's class. We only have about six members right now but in fact it is really nice to work with such a small, eager group. And as they say in the world of environmentalism, "Small is Beautiful!"

We brainstormed eco-vocabulary and related all the words to each other and then we listened to a poem about how seeing birds makes one feel at peace with the world. After that we made small notebooks out of recycled paper and decorated them with these eco-stamps.

Each week, one of the children will do a presentation on a famous environmentalist or environmental movement - explaining what that person did or does to be kind to the planet or what people are doing as a group. The list includes the following (and I'd love some more ideas if you have them as I would like to have eco-representatives from around the world):

Jane Goodall / Roots and Shoots
Chipko Movement
Wangari Mathai
Sunderlal Bahagunaji
Julia Butterfly Hill
Rabindranath Tagore
David Suzuki
Vandana Shiva
Pete Seeger
Masanobu Fukuoka
Chief Seattle
Rachel Carson
Not in My Backyard
Severn Suzuki
Critical Mass

Bruno Manser
Indigenous peoples around the world
David Attenborough
Manika Gandhi