Friday, December 09, 2022

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A Day in Remote Rayagada

So after discovering the awesomeness of TCS made software for ALP (Adult Learning Program) -- the CBFL (Computer Based Functional Literacy) several thoughts cross my mind.Do we really have illiterate people in Odisha or is the concept as old as the initiative!!!Anyways if there are people in need, we can help them, so I leave it at that.
Next thing we know we get an email calling for volunteers for 2 training (train the trainer) at Rayagada - Sparsh, JK Paper Mills & Agragamee. Both Situ and I volunteer instantly and get ready for the assignment. Although excited, a hundred other things are running in my mind - the mosquitoes, malaria, remote region, accommodation, naxals and what not!! Anyways "darr k aage jeet hai ;) ". Only thought that's left is our 8 month old Rishika. She's never been without seeing her Mom for a night. And my Aaee (Granny), Aunty and Papa keep prodding - do you really have to go? Mom's cool. She knows! So, I cool down too :-)

I get back from Kolkata on Thursday night and wfh on Friday. Working till 6pm, I wind up to scoldings from Papa n Situ and hurry to pack for the 7:30 train - Hirakhand express to Rayagada.

We wake up around 5 am and wait for the station. It's dawn and the view is breathtaking!!! There are series of hill ranges!! Forest areas, eucalyptus plantations, Farmers tilling lands, bullocks, villagers. Just Wow!! Situ gets down at Rayagada and goes to Kashipur with the SRC officials to conduct training at Agragamee SRC. I get down at the next station, Singapuram Road. Meet 2 daredevil trainees, Ninoshka & Mansi who have travelled from Gajapati for this training. They come from diverse backgrounds and have opted for a 1 year fellowship helping rural communities. As part of SBI csr activities they form the youth for India group working with NGOs.
We have a car waiting at the station to take us to the guest house of JK Mills. It appears as if the area has been developed around the paper mill!! And it's amazing to see how an industry can change the landscape of a region :-) .
We reach the guest house. It is way above my expectations, much better than what I had in mind :D Its still 7am! I call up Situ n check on her, inform back home and then fall flat on the bed for an hour :-).
8ish I get up n get ready for the day ahead and call up Mr Asutosh Das to check on the schedule for the day. Mr. Ashutosh looks after a lot of stuff along with the NGO Sparsh and has been in touch helping us with the details. The program would start by 10:30, so I still have time to explore the place and talk to him and others at the NGO.

The laptop and camera bags get picked and I go about admiring the beautifully maintained gardens and plants in the campus of the guest house, staff colonies! To my surprise the guest house officials say it is completely ok to leave the room unlocked :-)  

Strolling, I walk upto the campus of the factory and they won't let me in without a helmet :-) (damn, I couldn't click that pic :P ). Went to the administration building n met Asutosh and his boss Mr Rajguru. Very nice, warm & hospitable people. After a series of intros and chit chats, I get up - its time to start the program.

To be continued..

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