Mitraniketan and Mysterious Ooty

Mitraniketan is a small community located in the state of Kerala. It was started on the basis of providing education for village children around Kerala who wouldn’t normally be able to afford schooling. Over the years, it has grown to host over 300 elementary students, a people’s college, an organic farm, a small dairy farm, and a bakery. They also have a large community of people who visit as volunteers, curious tourists, or people on yoga retreat. We visited with the purpose of volunteering.

Morning assembly area. All the students would sing every morning.

Morning assembly area. All the students would sing every morning.

The organic farm was starting to grown coconut trees from the seeds.

The organic farm was starting to grow coconut trees from the seeds.

Organic farm section.

Organic farm section.

Massive bull in the diary farm section.

Massive bull in the dairy farm section.

The people’s college received funding from a group of Mitraniketan enthusiasts from Denmark a year or so ago. The funding went to a project they called “Eco-campus project.” This project was looking at the whole Mitraniketan community-which includes the elementary school, people’s college, farm, bakery, and shared areas-in regards to water conservation. In recent years they have seen a drop in water levels as well as a decrease in the amount of rainfall they receive in a year. The work they are doing should help retain the water in the soil around the campus. Some examples of what they have completed as part of the project include planting of banana trees, coconut trees, and digging various trenches in key locations to trap the water. It was all very interesting and we learned a lot from the staff there during the tours.

Trenches around the trees to trap the water

Trenches around the trees to trap the water

Trenches next to the path to trap all the water that runs down the hill.

Trenches next to the path to trap all the water that runs down the hill.

Planting banana and coconut trees.

Planting banana and coconut trees.

They have other small projects that they want to do but haven’t had time since they have been focused on the water conservation. One of those projects was to look at the types of plastic wastes that is produced on campus and provide containers to sort these from other garbage. Dave and I were in charge of this project for the week that we stayed in the community.

Dave and I decided that to understand the types of plastic wastes and suggest sorting we needed to understand all waste streams coming from the campus. We walked around and took pictures of all the different types of waste we saw and where it was on campus. We had one of the students walk us around the dorms as well. It was amazing the difference we saw between the boys dorm and the girls dorms. Overall we found a variety of different types of waste and suggested they have three different bins-compostable waste, plastic bottles, and waste to be burned or appropriately disposed of. We provided a report and they seemed to be excited with the results. I hope what we did was actually beneficial to them and can be used in the future.

Trash can they use currently.

Trash can they use currently.

Boys dorm.

Boys dorm.

Clean girls dorm with some girls shying away from the camera.

Clean girls dorm with some girls shying away from the camera.

The boy on the far right was the one who helped us with the dorms. His name is Sudeen.

The boy on the far right was the one who helped us with the dorms. His name is Sudeen.

Snapshot of our report. Dave really wanted me to include this.

Snapshot of our report.

Mitraniketan was a blessing for both Dave and I. Before we arrived, we were really frustrated with the issues we were having with the trains, the touts, the rickshaw drivers, along with the stress from finding hotels, the endless beeping, and other exhausting traveling duties. The small community they created was so relaxing, quiet, and welcoming that we didn’t want to leave after the week we were there. We even asked if we could stay longer, but other tourists were coming in and there was no space.

One of the reason it’s so relaxing and stress free is because all of the meals are prepared for you. This is great because you don’t have to find non-spicy restaurants and we got to try a lot of different south Indian dishes. The food we had here was probably some of the best we’ve had in India. My favorite was a jack fruit and coconut dish.

Jack fruit are...

Jack fruit are…

HUGE!

HUGE!

Overall both of us had a great experience visiting the Mitraniketan community. We would recommend it to anyone visiting the south of India. We left refreshed. Thank you Mitraniketan and all the great people that it includes.

They have a pottery making area and this guy is a master.

They have a pottery making area and this guy is a master.

They were digging this very deep well to provide water for locals right next to the campus.

They were digging this very deep well to provide water for locals right next to the campus.

They have an area dedicated to making mats and other things out of coir, which is rope from coconut fibers.

They have an area dedicated to making mats and other things out of coir, which is rope from coconut fibers.

Coir weaving machine.

Coir weaving machine.

They had an engineering section that would produce new equipment to help the locals with a certain task, this one was for sifting.

They had an engineering section that would produce new equipment to help the locals with a certain task, this one was for sifting.

Some boys playing in the park area.

Some boys playing in the park area.

Some of the girls building a wall to help with water conservation

Some of the girls building a wall to help with water conservation

The boys helping out around the campus.

The boys helping out around the campus.

Dave was talking to all of these guys about Soccer, he never got to play with them though.

Dave was talking to all of these guys about Soccer, he never got to play with them though.

Wall building

Wall building

Rubber trees! They were not part of the farm, but right next to it.

Rubber trees! They were not part of the farm, but right next to it.

Our next stop was a hill station called Ooty in the state of Tamil Nadu. They have many tea plantations and Dave and I signed up to do a trek through the tea plantations and local villages. It was a great experience and we had some excellent pictures. Unfortunately, Ooty is also the place where we lost our camera. After 6 months of traveling we didn’t lose one thing, I think that’s pretty awesome on our part. But, I guess it was bound to happen at some point. It’s too bad it was our camera, not because it’s an expensive item, but because it holds pictures we can’t get back. But, we were lucky though because Dave unloaded all our pictures before Ooty so we only lost the pictures from Ooty and a few from Mitraniketan. PHEW! Anyway, we only have memories now of Ooty and a constant vigilance to not lose anything again.

Advertisements
Categories: India, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Post navigation

2 thoughts on “Mitraniketan and Mysterious Ooty

  1. matt

    sorry you guys lost your camera…that really sucks 😦

    i’m enjoying all your escapades and stories. those caves were amazing! miss you, stay safe!

    -matt

    • Thanks. It’s not the SLR, it was just our point and shoot. We think the travel insurance will cover it. Hopefully.

      We miss you and everyone else back home too. And the snow, we saw all the pictures from the last storm. We’re jealous-kinda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: