Central American Students trail blaze in Bihar!

Patna. 23 March: Four students of Agriculture and Environment from Zamorano University Honduras have been pioneering a trail on a campaign to conserve electricity in Bihar. Ms Yanira Pech from Belize (L) Nivaro Cerceno from Panama, Alberto Quintana from Mexico and Luis Huezo from El Salvador joined Tarumitra in the first week of January 2011.
Guided by their perceptive and understanding guide, Professor Martha Calix, the four arrived with a plan to do internship at the Tarumitra Bioreserve in Patna for the ensuing four months. After some bouts of brainstorming it was suggested to organize a pioneering campaign on the conservation of electricity.

Alberto, Yanira, Luis and Nivardo

Working with the staff guide from Tarumitra Ms Margaret Molomoo, the four worked as a well knit team to reach out to nearly 30 high schools and colleges in Bihar. “Over the months we probably talked to over 5000 students on the need to conserve every wattage of electricity.” Said Ms Yanira Pech.

Ms Yanira interacting students in Hartmann High School

Being a pioneering work, they needed role models and examples to be presented to the peer group. “We took cues from Ms Shweta Marandi, a class 8 student of Mount Carmel School, Patna” said Nivardo Ceceno who got connected to audiences easily. It may be mentioned that the United Nations recognized the trail blazer in Shweta by granting her the honour “Hero of the Month” back in 2008 for her campaigns to replace bulbs with CFL lamps. http://www.unep.org/tunza/children/inner.asp?ct=actions&ac=bulletin_board&bd=hero_profile&hr=shweta

“Students easily could catch up with Shweta since she belonged to their peer group” said Nivardo. Shweta started her campaign stating that the use of electricity alone contributed the major chunk of pollution in the modern times.

Hero of the Month, Ms Shweta Marandi joined the campaign in person

“We repeated what Shweta discovered that one unit of electricity in India was produced by burning 52 kilograms of coal” said Alberto with his ever friendly smile. The Four urged the students not only to replace bulbs with CFL lamps, but also develop the habit of putting off electric appliances like lights, fans, heaters etc as and when possible. Many responded positively to the visiting students from Honduras by promising to comply.

The group was fortunate to team up with Shweta and Sanskriti from Carmel School since both the girls  were free to join the campaign after their final exams in the school.

Being an innovative group, the four planned to build a Smokeless oven at Tarumitra. They followed a model developed at their university to every detail while implementing its construction using bricks and clay next to the Solar cookers. “I was amazed at the effectiveness of the oven. Absolutely no smoke even when we cooked three pots simultaneously!” said the green architect Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J.

Team of Yanira, Nivardo, Alberto, and Luis along with Staff guide Margaret Molomoo

Luis Sanchez commented that he enjoyed working on the construction of a hut along with Fr. Joe using geo-thermal energy to cool the interiors. “We found it was fun to carry bricks, soil and sand for the construction” said Luis.

His Excellency the Governor of Bihar Devanand Konwar earlier laid the foundation for the  Geo-thermally cooled Eco-hut and was waiting for volunteers to complete the construction.

The Four contributed significant amount of time for the construction of the Eco-hut

The whole concept of the Eco-hut was to use local and if possible thrown away materials with innovative ingenuity to make a livable and air-conditioned space.  The whole building is plastered with soil and the ceiling with local bamboos.

Yanira and her group spent many a memorable afternoons under the canopy of the tall  Kamroop tree helping to craft the Eco-hut!

The group carried soil for the plastering of walls, mixed saw dust  and glue for the roof, chiseled the bamboos for padding the ceiling along with local volunteers and Tarumitra staff.

Luis carrying soil for the geo-thermally cooled house

” It was fun to light a wood fire and prepare the glue using local techniques” said Nivardo and Alberto who spearheaded delicate task of padding the ceiling to make the rooms heat-proof. Luis added a rope and pulley kit to pull up buckets of saw dust to the upper floor.

Sisters of Notre Dame,  Asha and Maryanne had applauses for the work of the students! Alberto preparing the glue and Nivardo, Luis and Margaret operating the gear to pull up materials.

The group is shortly on their way to Bangalore for a week of assemblages in different institutions. Co-ordinated by Dr. Meath Conlan of Holy Cross run  Maitreya, Bangalore, they will be teaming up with students of St. Joseph’s College in their campaigns on electricity.

The four with Anshal who joined them to visit schools and translated from Englishto Hindi : Students from each school promised to save electricity in their homes!

Priya from Adarsh Vidyalaya said that she would remember the visit of their “Cousins” from Central America, “ I hope to visit them sometime in my life” added Priya when she was asked to comment on the visit of the Zamorano students.

“The most important part of the internship was to live and share a roof and create a cousinship while giving  shape for a common future on the  earth.” said the Co-ordinator of Tarumitra Robert Athickal S.J. He commented also that the Tarumitra dream has been to bring together an international team spirit in collaboration with the United Nations in the ecologically fragile times of the 21st century on the planet!

6 thoughts on “Central American Students trail blaze in Bihar!

  1. Shashwat V Kumar

    We must encourage greater international participation in all our institutions, especially with students of Latin America. We have so much in common with them since all of us are developing nations.
    Wish Tarumitra could facilitate a few Indian students to go to Zamorano University or to other similar institutions? Wonder if large Corporates like TATAs would sponsor at least part of the expenses involved?
    I feel great about what Tarumitra has been doing on this front!

  2. Shefali Mitro

    Being in charge of the Internship of students from our university in Norway, I am impressed by the experience shared. The write up puts up internship in a totally different way. Usually many students come back with statistics and write ups on organizations without any actual involvement in doing things on the ground level.

    The campaign on electricity is perhaps the most needed action on the environmental front. I am happy the students had a taste of it. Hope they will carry the spirit back to Zamorano way of life!

  3. shubhangi

    I’m happy to know they created a super eco-hut intresting……hav they left or still there,,,,,,…..hw’s everybody in tarumitra getting ready for the summer camps?


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