Greetings from MGVS!
It is a joy, as it is always, to write to you and share news of progress here at MGVS. Your continued support has changed the lives of so many more marginalized families living in remote communities of Garhwal, this year, and we have included a few of the highlights in this newsletter for you.
This past year we suffered the loss of our mentor, MGVS Founder, Rev. R. C. Alter, when he passed away on the 19th of June. The foundation Rev. Alter laid for helping people with respect and understanding has shaped our work as well as our lives. We are so blessed to have been part of the vision and life of such a wonderful man and friend. We will always miss him. The honor of upholding Rev. Alter’s sincere aim to uplift those in need, in these parts of the Himalayas, together with all of you, is one that I find difficult to put into words.
If you are interested in learning more about our sustainable development program, please don’t hesitate to contact us. It will be our pleasure to send you a copy of our Annual Report and answer any questions. Please take note of our new address, as the MGVS Office has also moved this year, (after seventeen years!):
Mussoorie Gramin Vikas Samiti,
Mussoorie - 248179,
Our phone number and e-mail address remain the same:
The MGVS Team joins me in wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
With kind regards,
UNDERSTANDING DISABILITY - A BEGINNING
|Pravesh (l) and Beemal (r) of Suwakholi|
at Kaplani School - Oct/11
MGVS efforts to understand and improve the quality of life of disabled persons are also underway in the Naugun Patti area. Beginning in April, 2010, a total of sixty-six families with disabled persons, across fourteen villages, were interviewed at least twice. In December, 2010, MGVS Community Organizer, Dhirendra Rawat, and MGVS Health Staff, Raj Kumar, attended a workshop on Disability, organized by the Community Health Global Network - Himalayan Cluster, in Dehradun, where they had an opportunity to meet and share ideas and information with 40 other NGOs of Uttarakhand. Following the workshop, Dhirendra and Raj shared what they had learned about disability, govt. and non-govt. schemes with the rest of the MGVS team. From February to September of this year, the MGVS Staff then shared, and explained the contents of, a copy of a small information booklet (in Hindi), which MGVS had obtained from the Latika Roy Foundation, Dehradun, with each of these sixty-six families, so that they are now aware of national as well as local government and some non-government schemes/services available to them. Follow-ups with each family are ongoing.
SMALL SCALE POULTRY BUSINESSES MAKE CHANGE
|Village Gaer: Salochna Devi feeds her chickens - May/11|
Bhim Das and Salochna Devi have four small children, and they too live in a two room house, in Village Gaer. They decided to start a poultry unit with MGVS assistance in July, 2010, with 27 chicks. Seven chicks died, and from the twenty that survived, the family sold 11 chickens and earned Rs. 3025/-. Bhim Das was encouraged by the success of the business and so on November 2nd, 2010, he purchased 29 more chicks through a government scheme, at Rs. 15/- each. He adjusted space for the new chicks in the poultry house MGVS had helped him build, by fitting in wooden planksto make another storey: the chicks were placed above. In July, 2011 the business earned Rs. 6,200/-. Currently, Bhim Das is working on building another chicken house, and his family is eating the eggs laid by four hens. Salochna and Bhim have opened savings accounts for each of their children and they are depositing what they can each month. MGVS has also ensured that Mr. Bhim Das is accessing his right to 100 days employment through the MANREGA scheme. The poultry business is ideal for their family, says Salochna, who needs to stay close to home with the children when her husband is away at work.
MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO REV. ROBERT C. ALTER
|Rev. Robert C. Alter|
MGVS is grateful for the moments we have had with Rev. Alter. He truly lived a full life, a life of meaning and giving, humility and such positive upliftment of the people around him. Villagers living in and around Mussoorie still remember Rev. Alter as “Paani Sahib” (Water Sahib) for the first MGVS project - the 3.5 km Patrani-Donk drinking water pipeline, completed under Rev. Alter’s leadership. The pipeline was laid with low-cost PVC pipes for 14 families at a time when the government refused to acknowledge that these families needed water because their homes were so out of the way, until MGVS showed that it was possible to bring water to the area, in 1985. The pipeline has been repaired with GI pipes in many places since that time, and it continues to be functional today, with some of the original PVC piping intact.
During Rev. Alter’s fourteen years of leadership as Coordinator, he also implemented a holistic approach to development issues, including health, women self-help groups and women empowerment melas (fairs), organic (sustainable) farming and income generation and appropriate technology. He approached village problems, with the villagers, and the MGVS team, bringing about ever-innovative and effective results.
Rev. Alter is sure to live on in the family folklore of the rural people of this area, for many generations to come. The foundation he laid for helping people with respect and understanding has shaped our work and our lives. MGVS has been so blessed these past thirty years, to have been part of the life of such a wonderful man and friend. We will always miss him.
Rev. Alter’s Life and Achievements
|1981 - MGVS is born: Rev. Robert Alter and CRSC friends|
camp out together with villagers of
Chamasari to learn about village needs.
In 1948 Rev. Alter returned to Mussoorie where he married Mrs. Ellen Alter, who was teaching English at Woodstock School at the time, and they both stayed on to teach at the school until 1951. Rev. and Mrs. Alter then went to America for higher studies in 1952, where Rev. Alter attended Yale Divinity School, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1955. From 1956-1965, Rev. and Mrs. Alter served in central Uttar Pradesh, where Rev. Alter started an economic development programme for village Christians. During this period, he also completed an M.A. in Rural Sociology from Cornell University in 1962.
|Rev. Alter's book - "Water for Pabolee."|
Cover shows Patrani-Donk pipeline
where it connects between the two villages.
In the Spring of 1981, Rev. and Mrs. Alter started working on an action outreach programme of the Christian Retreat and Study Centre, Rajpur Dehradun, which evolved into MGVS – Mussoorie Gramin Vikas Samiti (Mussoorie Village Development Society). Rev. Alter served MGVS as Coordinator for 14 years until 1995, when he retired to Wooster, Ohio, in the US. After his retirement he assisted MGVS with reporting, funding issues and visitor groups from time to time. In 2001, he completed Water for Pabolee, a book about his life and work with MGVS. He dedicated the book to the people of Chamasari and Kanda-Jhak; Chamasari was the first area in which MGVS worked.
Rev. Alter continued to visit MGVS and his home: Oakville, in Mussoorie, each year, up until a few months before his death. On April 26th, 2011, during his final visit, the City Board of Mussoorie honored Rev. Alter at his home in Mussoorie with an award for lifetime achievement. The citation included described the award as “honoring him for a life led with great dignity and selflessness, a life rich with God's grace and the blessings of nature - a life which has touched so many other lives, regardless of all man-made barriers of religion and caste and creed and [nationality] - truly. Bob Alter is a man of his time, a man of Mussoorie, a man of the universe.”
|1985 - MGVS staff and villagers witness the fruit of the first MGVS endeavor: water in Patrani|
Village. Rev. Alter explains the next developments of the Patrani-Donk drinking water
pipeline to the pradham (local village council chief) of the area.