Reaching out to the Gonds RC Jabalpur ushers in better living conditions for the Gonds of Bishanpura.

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Children enjoying the new swing at the school.

The dusty 89 km-road from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh leads to Bishanpura village, home for over 600 people of the Gond tribe. RC Jabalpur, D 3261, has adopted the village, providing them with basic amenities. “When we first visited the village last year, we were shocked to find it pathetic in every aspect — no electricity or water connectivity nor any pucca house, even though a youngster, Bhupendra Singh Paraste from the village is posted in the neighbouring Guna district as the sub-divisional magistrate,” says Club President Puneet Handa.

The basics

Providing electricity was the first priority that was addressed. “About 190 households are here, but the village remains plunged in darkness,” says Handa. The club installed solar panels to provide lighting around the village school and at the common area. They have also installed a television and a submersible pump to draw water from the lone bore well, all of which will be powered by the solar panel. Handa says that Paraste has also promised to bring in the State government’s scheme, Nal Jal Yojana, that will provide one tap per household, to address water shortage in the village.

The village has no medical facility in the vicinity. “People have to trudge 30 km even for the daily kirana; there is not even a tea stall,” he says. The next action plan was a comprehensive health check-up and cataract treatment camps which were organised at various hospitals in Jabalpur.

People have to trudge 30 km even for the daily kirana; there is not even a tea stall.

The Rotarians provided benches and desks, installed play equipments, a water purifier, solar cooker to prepare mid-day meals, library and toilet block for the 56 children of the Government primary school. They also distributed uniforms and books.

An adult literacy centre was launched where 20 villagers enrolled for basic literacy classes. “We have promised to present each of them Rs 500 if they successfully spell their name and count to ten. The teacher will get Rs 1,000,” says Handa.

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Children look at the solar cooker with curiosity.

Farming

Most of the villagers have small landholdings, but their cultivation is very poor. The Rotarians organised a seminar to teach them modern farming techniques and use of hybrid seeds.
A veterinary camp was also organised for their cattle.

A community centre will be set up and tailoring classes will be held for women to help them earn their livelihood. Project Bishanpura costs about Rs 15 lakh and “we believe it will raise the standard of living of the tribal community,” says the president of this 77-year-old club.

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