Newsletter - DECEMBER, 2008 - Part 1

November 28, 2008

Dear Friends,

Greetings from MGVS!

We, the MGVS team, would like to share some of the highlights of our activities of the past year with you. MGVS continues to strive to bring about sustainable changes that uplift the poorest of the poor and marginalized persons, including women and the disabled, living in the more remote Himalayan villages of Garhwal. And this year has been a busy year as always. But it has also been an especially rewarding one – the efforts we have been putting into 21 villages+ of 8 Gram Panchayats of the Saklana Valley, for almost 6 years now, have started to bear fruit as the people of the valley begin to take on their rural challenges independently.

On behalf of MGVS, I thank you all for your ongoing support, without which we would not be able to help those who are truly at a disadvantage, within this area of Garhwal. Please keep us in your prayers, and until we report to you again, the MGVS team join me for now, in wishing you every blessing for the New Year to come and a Merry Christmas!

Kind regards,
Surender Singh
Coordinator, MGVS



MGVS has become well-known in our community as an NGO with organic farming experience. Woodstock School approached MGVS Coordinator, Surender Singh, who was trained in organice/natural farming in Japan, to promote awareness about organic farming, to the students of Woodstock School. Since then, MGVS has been managing a pilot farm known as “Turner Organic Garden”, where students have the exciting opportunity of getting their hands into soil on a regular basis.

MGVS Coordinator, Surender Singh
Woodstock School students in March, 2008

Students, Alumni, volunteers and local residents of Mussoorie have helped bring the garden from rocks to soil. Students reported on their findings as part of the Woodstock Environmental Science Program from March – to June, this year and organic vegetables from the garden are sold in Woodstock’s Quad area each Thursday afternoon to staff and students. True to their inclusive, multicultural student and staff body, the Woodstock garden has also produced Western and Asian foods this year: sweet corn, three varieties of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, coriander, red radishes, Indian radishes (mooli), Chinese cabbage, celery, pumpkin, mustard (Garhwali spinach), bottle gourds, potatoes, chillies and peas. Woodstock also allows the HIM Organic Women’s Farmers Cooperative to share in the sales. MGVS brings the Co-op’s produce and foods to the sale each week: leeks, kiwis, rice, miso, ginger lemon squash & pickle, and tofu & soymilk.

Allahabad Agriculture Inst. students visit Woodstock Garden
help Woodstock Alumni build a chicken house for manure.


On April 10th, 2008, 21 men farmers joined the HIM Organic Women’s Cooperative of Saklana, which has grown itself to include 28 women farmers this year, up from 14 members it started out with in 2005. The men have formed a sub-cooperative under the larger Co-operative, and women officers are training them in certification, govt. schemes, organic farming practices, including fertilizer preparations in their fields, and marketing.

Kiwi trees planted 3 years ago by women Co-op members
bearing healthy fruit in 2008

The Women’s Co-operative gave sub-cooperative members Japanese rice, leek, soybean and gobo seed to help them get started; the Women’s Co-op has established a specialized market of customers who are interested in Japanese foods and their Miso has become popular in many major cities all over India. The men farmers have agreed to farm solely organically as members of the sub-cooperative. They opened a joint bank account in October and they have just harvested their first crops, which they are selling through the Women’s Co-op. The addition of these new members is especially exciting for the women farmers because the men farmers tend to have more land.

MGVS Community Organizer: Dhirendra Rawat, MGVS Coordinator: Surender Singh and 10 of the new men farmer members with President: Mrs. Raju Devi and Secretary: Miss Deepika Kandari of the Women’s Organic Co-operative 2008

Women Farmers Access Government Scheme

On April 23, 2008, MGVS Staff, and Co-operative members Deepika and Bindeshwari, joined with a group of Allahabad Agriculture Institute Staff for an observation trip to Dhakrani, outside of Dehradun. There, they visited a govt. project run by the Krishi Dept. of Uttarakhand. Information learned about govt. rice thresher schemes that was gained at this visit, among other things, was spontaneously shared with the farmers, new and old, of the Co-op and Sub-Co-op afterwards. On October 1st, then, two Co-op officers organized a large vehicle and went to the Thathur Block, where they purchased five rice threshers for ten Co-op farmers, at half price (govt. subsidy) for Rs. 1700/- each. These rice threshers are smaller – easily portable and less likely to require repairs when moved from farm to farm, unlike the larger thresher, previously & presently, also available to Co-operative farmers.

Farmer Mrs. Chanchari Devi & her daughter use their rice thresher purchased jointly with farmer Mrs. Shushila Kandari


MGVS has been constructing toilets for poor families living in the Saklana Valley for the past 6 years as well as encouraging residents. Each year our team goes through a selection process to seek out the most needy families.

This year 10 toilets have been constructed by MGVS:
  • 4 in Hatwal & Matiyangaon
  • 4 in Haweli village
  • 2 in Manjgaon.
Five more toilets are presently under construction.

Toilet construction, October, 2008

(our funding partner)

TEAR Australia Program Officer for India, Ms. Jenny Beechey, visited with the MGVS team from October 22-24, 2008. She spent a day “in the field” with the villagers and a day and a half with us here in the office. The team prepared a map as part of the visit’s activities, representing our work and the outcomes of MGVS efforts in the Saklana Valley. The results of the exercise helped clarify the work of MGVS for Ms. Beechey and for the map in office team itself as a whole.

Ms Jenny Beechey reviews MGVS

Ms. Beechey engaged villagers in a similar exercise as well, when she was with them, on Day 2. The team worked together with Ms. Beechey, in the office on identifying effective indicators of changes MGVS attempts to bring about in Saklana Patti. We had a lot to learn from Ms. Beechey, who always brings new ideas to this corner of the globe when she visits.

Village ladies of Saklana explain village networking set in place through MGVS involvement


The MGVS founder, Rev. R. C. Alter, along with a group of 8 people, four women and four men - part of the Wooster Mission Study Tour Group, from the First Presbyterian Church of Wooster, OHIO, visited the MGVS project from the 7th to the 9th of November in 2007. During their visit, they spent a half-day session with the MGVS team at Oakville, Rev. Alter’s house in Mussoorie, which was followed by lunch at his house. The group also spent a one-day visit at the MGVS field site, to see the project at work. The group also visited the MGVS Kaplani School. The group and the school children had a really enjoyable time. The children put on a cultural show for the group. Rev. Alter has been back since in September of 2008 to visit the project again to see the beginnings of construction of the new high school in Kaplani.

Rev. R.C. Alter (founder of MGVS) visits Kaplani School,
November 8, 2007, with a group from Wooster, Ohio, USA

An old friend of MGVS, Mr. Bill Mosher, member of Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church USA, and a former teacher of Warren Wilson College, visited the MGVS project, once again in April 2008. While he was with MGVS, he visited many villages of the Saklana Valley and he took many photographs of the people of the area, for his photograph project, specially set up to raise money for MGVS.

Mr. Bill Mosher visits with Mr. Kothari of Sarona Village

In July, MGVS had the pleasure of receiving a group of 12 college students, who were introduced to MGVS by Cate Whitcomb, Woodstock Graduate (class ’66) and former Director of Development for Woodstock School. She has recently moved from the US to Delhi, where she is now the Director of Delhi IES Abroad. IES Abroad is an agency that manages the study abroad for a consortium of over 170 colleges and universities in the US and in 30 centers around the world. MGVS was honoured to represent an example of an NGO operating in India, to which these students could be exposed. The group had many questions, and after tea, they visited the Kaplani School in the rain.


Newsletter, NOVEMBER 2007 - Part 2

MGVS staff planning session at office.


Village Health Workers updates: 14 Village Health Workers have completed the health training to treat minor illness, attend deliveries in the village, help government health program in their area and provide health awareness and advice to their co-villagers. They all received the medical kit and a certificate after completing the training. During the training all the Village Health Workers had an opportunity to spend five days in Christian Hospital Chama, Tehri Garhwal to experience hospital system and to attend deliveries at hospitals. All these VHW’s are now working closely with the government health workers in their village to provide immunization to children under five, Antenatal/Postnatal care to mothers and to help deliveries.

Panchayat Health Committees: This year MGVS has taken initiative to activate the Panchayats Health Committees in every Gram Panchayats (Local Self Government), so that these committees can work towards improving the health status of their village. Up to last year the health committees were only in the Panchayats records - none of them were active. But this year MGVS was able to organized seven Health committees in seven Gram Panchayats and to help them to make plans for improving health status of their village.

Mother and Child festivals: Three mother and child festivals were held with the cooperation of the government health department. The purposes of these festivals are to provide vaccines to under five children’s, ANC/PNC care to mothers and health talks. All these festival were attended by Govt. ANM and provided the health services.

HIV/AIDS awareness training workshops: From January to October a total of Fifteen HIV/AIDS one day training workshops were held. Three workshops were conducted in schools, Junior and High Schools: 109 girls and 150 boys received the training. Three workshops were held with the men and women: 73 people received training. Six workshops were held with the women and men self-help groups; 41 men and 87 women received training. Two workshops were held with the sewing and knitting groups; 27 young girls received the training.

School health program: MGVS is running a program called School health program, the purpose of this program is to improve health and hygiene of school children and to train teachers about national child protection policy, and first aid medical. MGVS conducted two one day training workshops for the teachers in the month of March and October 2007. 22 teachers from 22 schools attended the training workshop. All teachers received the first Aid Medical Kit and a copy of National Child Protection Policy. Also, the Village Health Workers are regularly visit these schools once every three months to provide health talks to school children. So far children in six schools have received the health checkups from the government health staff.


GENDER SENSITIZATION TRAINING: Eight gender training workshops were held with the eight women’s self-help groups from different villages with 247 women taking part. Seven gender training workshops were held in Junior, High and Intermediate Schools. The purpose of this training is to help villagers to treat boys and girls equally in the family and society. Gender difference is one of the problems in this area.



Two visits were made to the HARC Field office at Naugaon Block, Uttarkashi, Uttrakhand. HARC is a well-known NGO in Uttrakhand State. HARC Activities include:
➤ 4 Farmers Federations (federation has over 300 member)
➤ 12 Organic Fruit and Vegetables Product Associations (138 farmers)
➤ Women’s multipurpose cooperative Nawagaon (103 members)
➤ Training programs for villagers, NGOS, and Govt. officials at their Center

The first visit was in March . All MGVS field staff along with five members of Satyon women’s organic cooperative and five women from the village self-help groups joined the exposure visit.
The second visit was in October. 12 women officers from seven women’s self -help groups and 9 officers from the four men’s self-–help groups along with three MGVS staff joined the exposure visit.

Here are some of the HARC activities which we observed and experienced:
➥ One classroom session was held for groups at HARC training center for introduction of their fieldwork and strategy.
➥ The women cooperative secretary talked about their cooperative activities and their food processing unit. They are selling many local grains in packages, such as beans, millet, chilly powder, local red rice, and processed food. They have a well equipped food processing unit.
➥ Our group visited a Farmers Federation vegetable collection centre and their office; it was good sharing by the federation president and employees: It was encouraging to visit the Rawani Ghati Fruit and Vegetables Production Farmers Association. More than one thousand farmers are selling their agriculture and fruit product through this association.
➥ Our group also met with a women’s self-help group, and learned about their activities.
➥ We also visited a village call Norni and met a pilot farmer who is well known in that area for growing fruits and fruits plants. He supplies fruit plants to the Govt. Horticulture Department. He has big Kiwi fruit garden.

After three years, Kiwi fruits in MGVS villages are bearing fruit.

➥ We learned some technics for making organic fertilizers, such as Bio dynamic Tree pest, Wormy culture and some techniques of organic pesticides making.
Photosynthetic Bacteria liquid now read to use in farm.



Surender Singh (far right) attended Micah Network Workshop in Malaysia.

In October, Surender Singh, Coordinator, attended a Micah Network “Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on Marginalized People –our Christian Response,” hosted Malaysian CARE. More than three hundred people from Christian NGOs and church pastors and leaders from the Asia Pacific region attended the workshop. Focus of the workshop was to increase capacity to work with the marginalized people, to share experiences and network with peers, to learn practical skills from case studies and workshops, to explore good practices and lessons learned, to grasp a deeper understanding of integral mission. 4 cross cutting issues were tackled through bible teaching, plenary sessions, case studies and workshops: HIV/ AIDS, Gender, Advocacy, and Stigma.


Once again we at MGVS would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support and interest in MGVS activities. Please keep us in your prayers, and we look forward to sharing with you future news of our activities.
Surender Singh, Coordinator


Newsletter, NOVEMBER 2007 - Part 1

Dear Friends,

Greetings from MGVS!

Once again it is time for us to update you about the MGVS activities. MGVS celebrated its 26th birthday in October. We are still very much engaged in working with the marginalized people in remote areas. MGVS has been an outreach program of the Christian Retreat and Study Centre Rajpur, Dehradun. As MGVS continues its rural development work, we need to deal with the government and non-governmental organizations. Therefore it was felt that MGVS should have its own identity. In the beginning of this year, MGVS registered as a separate society with the same name: “Mussoorie Gramin Vikas Samiti of the Christian Retreat and Study Centre.” There will be still some connection with CRSC through the Board members of MGVS.

Once again we at MGVS would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support and interest in MGVS activities. Please keep us in your prayers, and we look forward to sharing with you future news of our activities. All MGVS team join me in sending our best wishes for Christmas and New Year. With best regards ...

Sincerely yours
Surender Singh,
Coordinator, MGVS - November, 2007
Surender Singh (far right) attended Micah Network consultation in Malaysia.


In September, a one day workshop was held at CRSC for to develop MGVS “Vision and Mission Statement” for the next 20 years . The resource person for the workshop was Dr. Satyendra Kumar Srivastava, a Health Management & Community Health Resource Person from Herbertpur, Dehradun.

It was a recommendation from MGVS funding partner TEAR Australia that it is time for MGVS to review its Vision and Mission. Fifteen MGVS staff, including the school teachers, participated. Rev. Promod Kumar Tandy, Director of CRSC also participated as a representative of MGVS Board. The workshop was very participatory, with group discussions and presentations. Three key questions were discussed during the strategic planning:
  • What do we do?
  • For whom do we do it?
  • How do we excel?
Dr. Srivastava explained the importance of Vision and Mission for a organization in a changing environment, and how a organization can protect their organizational values. We visualized two facets of Vision 2027:

For MGVS: MGVS will become a credible Self-reliant regional Rural Development Resource Organization, with its own infrastructure, faculty and funds. MGVS will have a program demonstration unit in 4 blocks of District Tehri; Contribution of State Funds to MGVS programs will go up significantly.

For Rural Communities: MGVS envisages a Rural Community which is capable of finding & implementing sustainable solutions to its Socio-Political, material, ecological and cultural needs in 20 years period.

Our Values:
✦Christian Identity
✦No discrimination in Gender, Caste, Creed or Class
✦Identification & working with poor

Our Mission: To promote community development in Saklana Patti of district Tehri Garhwal through appropriate Eco-friendly Technology, Community Participation, Micro-enterprise Development, Community- based Health Initiatives, and by increasing access to Primary and Secondary Education.
MGVS Vision and Mission Planning Workshop

On-going Projects

POULTRY PROJECT: MGVS is promoting poultry raising as a small scale business with poor farmers. Since some farmers are successfully running small poultry units as side business, the Government Animal Husbandry Department was encouraged. MGVS approached government for the help to provide chicks to the poor farmers (Harijans). It was encouraging that Govt. Dept distributed 400 one day old chicks (10 chicks each) to the Harijans families. MGVS also started eight small poultry units with poor farmer with 20 chicks each. 330 chicks were distributed. Four new poor farmers started broiler chicken raising with 100 chicks, MGVS helped them to build a proper chicken house and provided them training of brooding and feeding.
Chick distribution to poor families.

Goat Raising for Income: 14 Village Health workers who completed their health training and started to provide health services in their village received help from MGVS to start a goat business as side income. All fourteen VHW received two goats, a male and a female goat, with an agreement that they will continue to work towards providing their health services in their village. At the time of goat distribution,a training was given on goat keeping.

Community Bulls (Hybrid Male Buffalo): This year MGVS also helped villagers to address one of their problems, that there was no hybrid male Buffalo for breeding purpose in this area. In March, MGVS helped two villages, Jargaon and Matiyan Gaon, buy two community Hybrid Buffalos for breeding purpose. So far 50 farmers have been benefited from the community bulls.
Community bull.

Fodder Grass & Silage Making: Three farmers from village Matiyan Gaon, Lamb Kandi and Hawali have planted 2 quintal of Napier grass as a demonstration to meet the needs of fodder for their animals. This grass was purchased from the Government research Centre. Four farmers planted Rai grass & Cocks Foot; the seeds were purchased from the government Department. Twenty men & women participated in a silage making workshop village Matiyan Goan.
MGVS provided fodder grass to farmers for planting.


The Women’s Organic Cooperative Satyon is making good progress. In the beginning, 15 women joined with 100 Rs Share. Recently six new women joined as associate members. The Cooperative is registered under the Government Coop Dept. It is applying for a license to sell food processing products. This year Coop’s income was 1, 47,100.00.

Members are growing different kinds of organic crops and vegetables, such as Soybean, Leak, Gobo, three kinds of Japanese rice, and the local sticky rice which is in big demand in Delhi and other places. They are also processing several kind of food products such as Miso Paste, Tofu, Ginger Limon Squash, Jam, smoky chicken and Soya sauce. There is regular demand of Miso Paste, Leak, and Tofu.

Janet Rao the Food processing trainer providing training to Coop members and other women. 106 women received training this year.
It is the real meaning of the Cooperative - working together.

Ms. Deepika joined the Cooperative as a paid Secretary. She is 22 years old from the village Manjgaon and the daughter of a Coop Member. Deepika was sent for a 10 month Leadership training course at College of Continuing and Non-Formal Education of the Allahabad Agricultural Institute. The main focus of this course was promoting sustainable agriculture as the basis for rural development. The Women Coop and MGVS shared the cost of her training. She was then employed by the Coop. She is helping to run Coop meetings and keeping all the records of the coop.

Organic Vegetables Nursery Growing &Fertilizer Making Training Workshops were held in seven villages. Ms. Deepika, led the workshops and trained 78 women and men.

Ms Deepika also trained 8 coop members in PSB making training. PSB, (Photosynthetic Bacteria) is pink-color bacteria which fixes nitrogen from the air and makes soil and plants healthy. It also purifies water also. PSB is diluted with water and poured near plant roots. Fish heads are necessary for propagation of PSB. When pleasant smell comes, then it can be applied. Ms Deepika learned the technique during her training at Allahabad Agriculture Institute.
PSB (Photosynthetic Bacteria) is ready to use on the farm.

Check Dams/plantation: MGVS helped build check dams in village Hatwal Goan, in other villages with the government’s help, under government self-employment schemes. In Hatwal Gaon, MGVS also helped to plant 250 trees to protect soil erosion along the river side.
MGVS helped villagers build check dams to protect farm land from flooding.

A New Project Towards Self-Reliance

MGVS organized a three months beautician training for the girls who are educated above high school. This training was organized by the help of the Government Ghadi Gram Udyog Department and was a part of the Government’s self-employment scheme. MGVS staff Mrs. Janet Rao was the resource person for the training. Janet was a professional beautician before joining MGVS.

Twenty young girls joined the training and paid Rs. 100/- as a registration fee. After completion the training, all 20 girls received a certificate from the Government Department.
Beautician Training - Learning to decorate a bride for her wedding.

Mrs. Renuka Chand and Mrs. Ruby Singh, the MGVS ANM/Nurse, health team staff, left MGVS in January, 2007, due to their appointment in government health department. Mr. Deependra Singh, Community organizer, left MGVS team in July due to his appointment in Government education department as a teacher.

Mr. Surender Sherring, Technical staff, left MGVS in March due to his retirement. He is now settled in Delhi with his family. We are grateful for his long services in MGVS and wish him and his family all the best.

Newly Coming:
Mrs. Kelsang Shoreng, (Tibetan background) joined MGVS Health team in February 2007 as a ANM/ Nurse.

Mr. Vijay Chowhan, a young man joined MGVS Team in Month of May 2007 as a technical social worker, his extra qualification is that he knows driving.

Mr. Dhirendra Singh, joined MGVS Team in Month of August 2007 as a Community Organizer. Dhirendra is good in computer skills both in Hindi and English. We are looking forward to benefiting from his skills.

Writing Grants - Managing Funds

Mr. Surender Singh, coordinator, and Mr. Raj Kumar, senior community health staff, attended a training workshop in August at the Indian Social Institute in New Dehli. The workshop was on writing effective project proposals and reports. It helped participants understand, from the funding organizations perspective, what kind of proposals and reports they want from the NGO’S to consider their proposals for the support.

(Note: The workshop was organized by the Micah Network, a group of almost 300 Christian relief, development and justice organization in 75 countries. The aim of Micah Network is to strengthen the capacity of participating agencies to make a biblically-shaped response to the needs of the poor and oppressed, and to encourage a deeper understanding of mission and advocacy for and with the poor. MGVS joined the Micah Network as a associate member in 2006. )

Mr. Dalip Benjamin, accountant of MGVS, attended a training program in April at CRSC on Finance Management of Organization The program was organized by the Christian Institute of Management, Chennai. Mr. Dalip Benjamin has worked with MGVS since 1994, and has been efficient in keeping all the MGVS accounts
Dalip Bejamin, MGVS Account Officer

MGVS Staff

The MGVS Field Staff and teachers at Kaplani & Donk Schools send their greetings.



Mussoorie Village Development Committee
Fund for Economic and Educational Development

PURPOSE - The mission of MGVS-FEED is to promote the work of Mussoorie Gamin Vikas Samiti, primarily by receiving checks payable to MGVS-FEED and forwarding these contributions in a timely manner to MGVS in Mussoorie, India.

Make checks payable to: MGVS-FEED

Mail to:
c/o Chris Petrak
408 Dover Road
South Newfane, VT 05351

  • In addition to contributions payable to MGVS-FEED designated to MGVS, contributions may also be designated to the Christian Retreat and Study Center (CRSC), or to help with the expenses of printing and mailing the MGVS newsletter and/or incidental expenses of MGVS-FEED.
  • Contributions will be accumulated to $1,000 and then forwarded to MGVS. No contributions will be held for more than six months before being forwarded to MGVS.
  • When contributions are received, the Coordinator of MGVS will be informed by e-mail of the
    contributor, amount, and any designation, so that he may acknowledge and plan accordingly.
  • Contributions will be sent to India by check using registered mail. When it is known that a friend of MGVS is going to Mussoorie, India, that friend may be asked to hand-deliver a check to MGVS. Large contributions may be sent by wire transfer, less the transmission fee.
  • As required by the Internal Revenue Service, contributions of $250.00 or more will be acknowledged by mail, including the statement that "No goods or services were provided." If a contributor requires such a letter for smaller contributions, please request the letter.
  • To keep all expenses at a minimum, please include your e-mail with your contribution.
  • MGVS-FEED ... Background

  • For many years, American friends of MGVS have made tax-deductible contributions by sending checks to the Presbyterian Church (USA) with a numerical code to direct the funds to MGVS. There have sometimes been delays, and expenses, related to these contributions.

  • The First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg, PA, has also received checks payable to the church and designated for MGVS; the church has sent these contributions in a timely manner and without deducting any expenses. We are very grateful for the Stroudsburg church's long willingness to provide this service.

  • However, many people feel much more comfortable writing checks to MGVS rather than to an intermediary. For some time, a small committee of MGVS friends has been trying to find a way for American MGVS friends to make tax-deductible contributions directly to MGVS. We conceived MGVS-FEED to which contributors could make checks, but were hampered by the cumbersome process of applying for non-profit status.

  • In 1994, Chris Petrak spent the summer as a volunteer with MGVS. Since then, he has been editing the MGVS newsletter. In more recent years, he also designed and maintains the MGVS website at www.mgvsnews.org. He is a member of the Newfane Congregational Church in Vermont. As a result of his work for MGVS, the Newfane Church has included MGVS (and its parent, the Christian Retreat and Study Centre) in its annual mission budget.

  • Early in 2007, the Newfane Church Council adopted MGVS-FEED as a mission of the church, with its own bank account. Contributions to MGVS-FEED are tax-deductible through the Newfane Church's tax exempt status.

  • In addition to the financial information which will be available by link from this website, and the oversight of the MGVS-FEED friends committee, the account will be audited annually by the Newfane Church's audit committee.