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Colours Of Life


Seva 2017: Return to Tribal School Project, Jharkhand, India (24-30 Nov 2017)

On 24-30 Nov 2017, I returned to visit Chawla-ji and the tribal children in Jharkhand, India.

The highway currently being constructed that links Kolkata, Ghatsila, Jemshepur and Mumbai, scheduled to be completed by end 2018, will imply future development potential for Ghatsila.

Transportation of goods will improve, meaning products produced in Ghatsila can be sold competitively to city consumers.

Construction will increase, meaning the compressed brick project will enjoy rising demands.

Eco-tourism will become viable as city folks from Kolkata will be willing to come for getaway in serene tribal farmstay.

Potential social enterprises in Ghatsila:

  1. ORGANIC RESTAURANT - to serve the locals, co-brand with a reputable oversea brand (e.g. XYZ from Bali), healthy organic veggies (health consciousness, fresh supplies from tribal farmers), serves only 50 customers a day (limited supply), pre-bookable with app (high tech), interned by Tribal School youth (empowers Tribal Community), solar-powered (eco-friendly), international volunteers (international appeal).
  2. FARMSTAY - targets city folks and families to come for a weekend getaway in serene tribal farm country (near Chada), offers quality accommodation for AOL and international volunteers who prefer not to rough it out in local hotels or guesthouses. Offers management and employment opportunities to tribal youth and tribal people. Solar-powered, constructed using the compressed bricks, serves healthy and quality organic food (extension of organic restaurant).
    1. Phase 1 – a high school project to manufacture compressed bricks out of the vocational institute to build 3 small-scale structures in Tribal Schools, e.g. kitchen extension, toilet, etc. This is proof of concept. If we have college students studying civil engineering, they can take it on as their project study and do a comprehensive cost effectiveness analysis against other brick options.
    2. Phase 2 – this is the commercialization phase in which a team of tribal youth will work on production, sale and building of structures for internal (farmstay under Tribal School) as well as external customers. With the impending completion of the highway, demand for such construction materials will only increase.
    1. Phase 1 - a 1-year social transformation experiment to enhance the quality of life for 100 tribal families, leading to the publication of a report on the social and economic impacts on health and environment. To invite 5 tribal schools to participate as Educational Partners, each school to engage 2 tribal villages, each village 10 tribal families. Idea is to involve specific students (or classes) to undertake this 1-year school assignment to implement a community project and measure the social and economic impacts on health and environment. We’ll invite a social investor to underwrite the cost of this project, which will mainly be the cost of transporting coal dust to the tribal villages.
    2. Phase 2 - scale up the briquette production by the same tribal families so as to sell briquettes to surrounding tribal villages based on the social and economic value-adds reported to create a income source for them. The tribal schools will leverage this phase 2 as experiential education in social enterprise development.
    3. Phase 3 - to groom selected tribal youth to take over the ownership and running of this social enterprise, with potential for replication to more tribal villages and therefore job creation to support many more tribal youth and families.

Alvin Yong
August 2012


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