Archive for May, 2012

Second story building has started

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I am very excited to announce that the second story addition of the Lumkyntung Village School has started.

The reinforcement steel, planks, cement, sand, stone and other building materials have been purchased and team is ready to go.

Under the supervision of the building contractor, the distribution of labor and collaboration by the village residents and parents of the students to get these new 30’X15′ classrooms built is now in progress, scheduled for completion by Oct 2012.

The two classrooms we added in 2011 have already increased the number of students from 48 to 82 – almost doubled in just a few months!

A little help goes a long way in these rural communities and it is really rewarding to see the difference we are making. We are grateful to our donors for this important contribution which is creating educational opportunities for these children.

Mother’s Day in India…

Friday, May 11th, 2012

A Cause for Celebration!

If you live in India, you truly have cause to celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a gift to still have mom around! And as a child, it is a gift to still be around to enjoy Mom!

(Creative Commons Photograph from rahukdulucca’s photostream)

Why am I saying this? Because Save the Children just released on May 8th, their 2012 State of the World Mothers report (SOTWM) with some very interesting facts.

This comprehensive report shows the best and worst of 165 countries for mothers and children, using health, education and economic conditions as criteria for measurement.

For example, Norway ranks #1 as the best place to be a mom, The United States ranks #25, Niger rates last at #165 and India rates at #76.

So why is India #76? Here are some statistics from the report:

  1. One in every 140 women run the risk of dying at childbirth while 1 in every 7600 runs this same risk in Norway.
  2. Only 53% of births are attended by a skilled health professional.
  3. The mortality rate for five year olds and under is a whopping 63 out of 1000 births. In the United States this number is 8.
  4. Malnutrition kills as many as 2.6 million children and 100,000 mothers every year and India is one of 30 countries in this report with stunting rates of 40% or more due to malnutrition (actual number for India is 43%).

Aside from the statistics, the pain and trauma for a mother losing a child is severe. I cannot even imagine that pain, and it can be prevented.

One of the recommended solutions that is the least expensive to combat malnutrition, is to encourage breastfeeding which could save as many as 1 million lives according to the report.

What was surprising to me was that the United States is the only economically advanced country where employers are NOT required to provide any paid maternity leave for moms.

It also ranked LAST on the breastfeeding policy scoreboard in the industrialized world for moms who want to breast feed.

Norway moms get 80% of their salary while on maternity leave and 36-46 weeks of maternity leave. Wow!

You can refer to this report for additional information on India or any of the other countries in the list.

A Himalayan Village Ropeway

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

While I was in India for the 2011 inauguration of the Lumkyntung village school, my mom told me about a very interesting little village she had visited a couple of years ago that she felt I might enjoy seeing.

So one sunny afternoon, we decided to take a short drive (1.5 hours from her house) to this little village, called Laitlum.

Laitlum is a tiny village located in Meghalaya, India, in the Northeastern foothills of the Himalayas. The residents of this little village are part of the tribal Khasi hill people (like me)

However, unlike anything I have ever seen, these villages in this area literally farm on the edge of these cliffs, which plunge sharply into the valley below, where we saw more isolated and scattered villages at the bottom of these mountains where people live and farm the land.

Even more interesting was the smallest little ropeway I had ever seen, manually operated and dependent on gravity, that is still being used to transport food and supplies up and down these steep mountains between these villages.

There is a little hut that houses the pulleys and equipment below, operated by one person who literally moves what looked like handles back and forth to help propel the wooden crate above to move it up and down the mountain.

A steep, stony path leads to one of the villages at the bottom of these mountains, which sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by mist-covered hills.

The residents, while effortlessly going up and down these mountains on these narrow paths, appear to use the ropeway to transport anything that needs to come up to sell at the local markets such as bananas, or for sending down building materials such as one bag of cement at a time.

I felt as if I was going back in time, seeing this simple, remote lifestyle while the few villagers we met along the way were quick to smile and say hello.

It was one of the most memorable afternoons I have spent in a long, long time as I enjoyed a late afternoon lunch with my family on the grassy hillside, overlooking this beautiful, silent and peaceful valley.

(My mom, sister and I with a friend, enjoying some delicious lunch)