Arriving in Hyderabad India after 30 hours of travel time can be a crazy and chaotic experience. But the sights, smells, colors, and overall culture shock are a wonderful and engaging experience. But there was no time to rest because we were set to start building gardens the next day! My good friend Jessica Frank is doing a fellowship with IDEX, working in affordable private schools in Hyderabad, India. Private schools have a different meaning here- they really provide an opportunity for low income people to get their children more of a quality education than public schools here. I even helped Mr. C & Matt’s class from Orca connect with two classes at the school as penpals (more coming on that….)
Hearing about this amazing fellowship, I got inspired and offered to fly over with some grant money from Boeing ($500) and build some gardens at the school. As soon as I saw the pictures sent to me, I realized that it would be a challenge to build a garden here. There is not much light in their open areas. But alas- the roof was wide open with tons of sunlight. So I set right to developing a plan to build some beds up there, along with some planter boxes and other fruit trees to really greenify this “dead” space. The owner of the school was very enthused and supported the idea from the beginning. I drew up some plans for the beds and he got a parent who is a carpenter to build 6 5×6 beds & 2 4×5 beds. We procured some seed packets of corriander, spinach, lettuce, sorrel, okra, bottle gourds, mint, and a few things that I didn’t know in Hindu. I also picked up some sprouted potatoes from the market.
The enthusiasm on the day we filled the beds w/ soil was really inspiring and energetic. Ahhhh- the soil…. We took a mix of the hard red clay they use for growing everything here, mixed it with bags of vermicompost ($24 for 400 pounds!), and added a little saw dust. The students were pounding, carrying, lifting, and planting with a fervor. They were really excited to get out of their classrooms and help. They really did all the work as I helped facilitate- they deserve all the credit- really!
The result was splendid, if only I could stay around to see all the growth and learning that I hope will be happening from the project. But I really believe that the enthusiasm of the staff will ensure it will thrive. It was incredible to see a little bit of Orca K-8 School so far away.