Chirag Kumaon

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2012

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The last and the oldest of the four NGO''s that I visited in Kumaon was CHIRAG (Centre for Himalayan Rural Action Group). It is close to Mukteswar. From Almora went to Aarohi to eventually spend the night at CHIRAG''s guesthouse. It felt like Divine Intervention because at the guest house met a former investment banker who chucked it all up to now work for the benefit of others. U see the office building of CHIRAG. It is at three levels. 1 is office, 2 is a earth quake proof cafeteria, 3 is a Dormitory.

CHIRAG uses technology for the benefit of all. Above the dormitory u see solar panel and a Dish i.e. used by the BPO. CHIRAG works in the field of Education, Health care, Natural Resource Management, Livelihood Support, Technical Support. It has 8 area teams & a direct presence in nearly 175 villages. Works in 4 blocks of Nainital district, 2 blocks of Almora district and 1 block of Bageshwar district.

In the same campus CHIRAG runs a school in association with the Krishnamurthy Foundation. U see the building. Has about 90 students, is upto 5th standard. Aim is to improve quality of education in 60 Govt run primary schools, ensure girls from disadvantaged backgrounds have a chance to complete schooling, demonstrate that quality education can be provided to rural children and foster the habit of reading in children in primary schools.

Classrooms are big, airy with lots of light. U see Hindi one. There are separate classrooms for Hindi, English, Maths, Craft and Science. Read about their Primary Schools Click here

Students are also taught in the open. School has a rule that students cannot be photographed whilst studying. Wanted to take a pic so clicked these students, who were studying in the open but from behind a hedge. CHIRAG gives scholarships to 135 girls. Read about Scholarship for Girls Click here

Another classroom, is used for Craft. Loved the school - very positive vibrations. CHIRAG has made living quarters for teachers who come from long distances. Read about CHIRAG School Click here

Next went to a BPO where CHIRAG partnered with B2R Technologies ie Business to Rural. It started in Sept 2009, employs 250 and has 5 locations. They do XML coding, Calling Services, Outbound Calls are some of the services they provided. 234 employees are from Uttaranchal.

U see BPO employees. I spoke to some of them and was impressed. In today''s connected and TV world everyone is a lot more smarter and aware than those from metros might think. Intent of BPO is to provide local youngsters with jobs in Kumaon itself.

Next went to the CHIRAG hospital. It is an independent building. Read about their work in Health Click here

1st floor have beds. U see ECG being done for a patient. Aim of health care program is to provide quality healthcare at affordable price, out-patient facilities and emergency services, strengthen statutory health committees of 40 Gram Panchayats and support the Accredited Social Health Activist.

U see the X ray room. It is a very clean hospital. Saw a steady stream of patients coming. Read about Vocational Skills program Click here

Pathological department. Read about their work in Drinking Water and Sanitation click here

Some flowers in the campus to add color to this photo collection. Read about Livelihood Program Click here

I went to the building where they make shawls. Simply put it is a three fold process. 1st is Warping. 2 is Drafting and 3 is Weaving. U see the Warping section.

There is a room with many looms. What is warped comes to the loom section for Drafting that you see in this pic.

This is process of weaving the shawl. The shawl collection of CHIRAG is very impressive. U shall see some pics.

Close to the hospital is a CHIRAG outlet called KILMORA. U see shawls on display.

Same shop u see coats and jackets for sale. Aim of Natural Resource Mgmt work is recharge of springs, support village institutions to manage forests, conservation of common lands etc. To know more Click here

About a 15 minute drive is another Kilmora outlet. This one is bigger. U see the shop, very tastefully done and stocked very well.

Display of shawls. To encourage women to become more financially independent, it has promoted Uttaranchal Sangharsh Mahila Sangh, a federation of exclusively women’s SHG''s. To read more Click here

U see collection of local women involved in knitting. Every day of the week a women knitting group like this one meet. They handover the knitted products, take fresh wool that u can see in plastic packets on left of pic, discuss design and then knit together with every lady helping the other.

Pic of kitchen herbs made and sold by Kilmora. Read about work in Agricultural Marketing Click here

This is an OVEN used to make chocolates. Loved the chocolates. If I had good teeth would have carried a box along. They are now experimenting with the making of chocolates with local flavors. All information is from CHIRAG website or Annual Report for 2010-11. To download Annual Report Click here

Solar Heaters. Onions kept for drying later on used to make powder. CHIRAG hosts interns, volunteers. To know more Click here

This is the office of CHIRAG. Is like any other office, co-workers walk in, wish each other, have early morning chai, exchange notes and get down to work. Left very impressed with the grassroot work being done CHIRAG. More power to them. If you like to support CHIRAG Click here

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