Community report in India

The community of Verdhara is located in Rajsamand District, Rajasthan State in the northwest part of India. It is 30 minutes away from the main town of Kelwara and two hours from Udaipur City. The rural community consists of forest land, hills, mountains, and cultivated valleys. Cultivated land is limited, but can be productive with adequate rain or irrigation. Most households are unable to sell their agricultural goods as they use most of what they produce for their own consumption.
Verdhara is comprised of people from different castes represented in various ethnicities including Bhil, Gurkar, Lohar, Nai, and Rajputs. The population of the community is approximately 1140 people, where over 60% of men and over 85% of women are illiterate. The average life expectancy among community members is 65 years.
Through the Adopt A Village model, Free The Children is working in partnership with the community of Verdhara to eliminate the barriers that prevent children from accessing education. Future projects focusing on clean water and sanitation as well as health and alternative income all have the goal to empower community members to break the cycle of poverty in their community.
Free The Children is working with the community to reconstruct schoolrooms to ensure a safe learning environment for children while also motivating students to continue their education to higher grades. Thanks to the support of FTC Japan, we have been fortunate enough to complete a new school room in Verdhara! This new classroom is located over an older building and provides a safe, well-ventilated space where students can participate in their studies without distractions from outside.
The classroom is construction to provide a space for students that is bright, fun, and shelters students from rain and poor weather. Construction materials were chosen to minimize the noise created from heavy rainfall and ensure that windows bring in lots of natural light and fresh air. We are also painting the Head Master’s room and storehouse to ensure the school has the same welcoming feel in every space!
We began construction on the school boundary wall in 2014 and are so pleased by the progress so far! Work continues on the wall and ensures that the school grounds remain secure and safe for students. As the school grounds are elevated, this work is so important for the safety of younger students. The school boundary wall also helps to build school pride by creating a designated school space that students and educators can work and play in.
Clean Water & Sanitation
The community of Verdhara suffers from high rates of waterborne illness and disease due to drinking contaminated water and a lack of awareness on water and sanitation practices. Roughly 50% of households lacked access to safe drinking water and 90% lacked access to proper sanitation facilities – thankfully much work has been done to support the community in remediating this! We are so pleased to have completed rehabilitating the well on school grounds – this work ensures that water accessed through the well is safe to drink and to cook with. In doing this, students and the community can access clean water and reduces instances of illness!
Free The Children has also been working on a new toilet block which is nearly complete! This is incredibly exciting for students as it will enable girls and boys to have separate sanitary facilities. Having access to clean sanitary facilities is one of the most important and impactful things that can be done to increase attendance and graduation rates for girls as it reduces the likelihood that they will miss class throughout the month.
Health Care
Due to poorly ventilated homes and working and cooking over fire, community members are extremely susceptible to acute respiratory diseases and infections. While there are two centres and one hospital roughly 10 kilometres from Verdhara, much of the resources are limited and the distance can be very limiting for community members. There is also an Anganwadi (a government run local health resource centre) within the community, however the centre is not sufficient for the needs of community members.
Free The Children is working closely with the community and local government with the ultimate goal of increasing training for local health care workers, rehabilitating the Anganwadi, and ensuring access to quality health care for the community. Free The Children has been going door to door and discussing the effects of indoor smoke pollution with women in Verdhara with incredible results. To date, we have installed 100 smokeless chullahs in households which drastically reduces the amount of smoke within homes, creates two cooking spaces, and improves the overall health of households.
Alternative Income & Livelihoods
More than 80% of community members in Verdhara live in $2 a day. Men normally engage in agriculture and labour work, while women are very involved in agriculture. When agricultural output is not sufficient, men are forced to migrate out of the community to urban centres and find work to support their families. As a result, women are left with a heavy workload, maintaining agricultural activities and taking on additional labour work while also taking care of the household and children.
Free The Children has been working closely with community members to provide training on improved animal husbandry techniques and activities which can boost household income. One technique has been the provision of goats from an improved breed (Sirohi). The Sirohi breed is hardier and stronger than local breeds, it provides more milk and more meat, and matures much earlier than local breeds. An added benefit is that it has a 10% likelihood of having twins – increasing the size of goat herds much quicker! To date a total of 100 goats have been distributed among 20 households and the goats have already had 41 offspring!
Important aspects of this work have been to ensure are vaccinated, dewormed, and visited regularly by a veterinarian. The community members have also had extensive training on the importance of saving, setting up bank accounts, and proper animal husbandry techniques.
Agriculture & Food Security
The community of Verdhara consists of rural, subsistence farmers who largely grow maize, chillies, nuts, and wheats. Located in the only desert state in India, environmental conditions such as drought and unpredictable rainfall constrains the quantity and quality of crops harvested by farmers in the community. Farmers are also using basic tools and farming techniques for their agricultural and animal rearing activities that have been passed onto them from earlier generations. We have been working closely with community members to broaden agricultural practices that are resistant to unpredictable weather, require less water, and have higher yields.
Farmers in Verdhara have had the incredible opportunity to participate in training on inter-cropping. It’s an incredibly versatile agricultural technique which has the capability to increase food security. Within Verdhara, one of the most viable options is to intercrop corn and soya beans – this can increase yield and improve the level of nitrogen in the soil. The months of May and June have typically been slower for agriculture as farmers have not planted crops in these months. With increased access to irrigation, farmers have received green gram seeds and now have the capability to add a new crop in the summer months!
Farmers also received training on using rows in their fields, this ensures that plants have the space necessary to grow to their fullest potential and limited competition for light, water, and nutrients. This training is beneficial as the traditional method of planting has been to scatter seeds with little attention to spacing which decreases yields and reduces productivity. The MB plough was also introduced to farmers, this plough has a curved blade which turns soil over and increases the level of nutrients.

Thank you
Thank you for your continued generosity and support. Free The Children is tremendously happy with the developments that have been and continue to be made in Verdhara. Community members are taking true ownership over the implementation of the Adopt A Village model and continue to grow and flourish thanks to your support.


An Update on Emergency Relief Work in Kumamoto

The following is an update from FTCJ board member Nagano Eri on the ongoing emergency relief work in support of victims of the recent earthquake in Kumamoto.
From Kanto to Kumamoto – A Truck Full of Reliable Food, Supplies Reaches Mothers in Need
Thanks to everyone's support and effort, we were able to send a truck full of allergy friendly foods and other crucial relief supplies to Kumamoto on April 21st.
The truck arrived safely the following day, April 22nd, and its contents were collected and delivered to Kumamoto City Keitoku Elementary School which served as the main site for distribution of the donated food and relief supplies. Other evacuation sites served as city organized free meal centers as well as designated drop off and distribution sites for relief supplies.
Our deepest thanks go out to the large number of individuals and groups that helped make the distribution of relief supplies and the the organization of free meal centers a reality. To all those who donated, helped sort supplies, and especially to the volunteers in Kumamoto, thank you so much for your time and effort!
As relief efforts in Kumamoto are still ongoing, we look forward to your continued support and generosity.


Sponsored by: Maria Project – Nagano Eri, representative, FTCJ board member
Co-Sponsored by: NPO Childrin, Organic Seed Club, Club World Peace Japan, NPO Free the Children Japan
Partnered by: Friends of The Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – Yachio Branch, Earth Day Market Kumamoto, Kumamoto Support Team, Free The Children Japan – Kumamoto, residents of the Kanto region who generously donated and gave their time to help (Mama Network)
Free The Children Japan's emergency relief efforts are still ongoing as well and as always we look forward to your donations!


Message from Marc & Craig and frineds from India and Philippines for Kumamoto

We got messages from Marc & Craig and staff of our partner NGOs in India and Philippines for victims of Kumamoto Earthquake. We always pray for all victims in Kyushu.
Message from Marc and Craig
The first time I [Craig] visited the Kyushu Island in 2000, I met a remarkable 15-year old girl named Miku, who founded the Kumamoto Chapter of Free The Children Japan. Since then we have had long-time supporters in the region, and they have been incredible in our youth empowerment movement. We’re deeply grateful for all the support and championing from the youth of the Kumamoto Chapter.
We were deeply saddened to hear that Kumamoto was struck by an earthquake recently. As such, we wanted to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to all the victims of the earthquake and their families. Know that our thoughts are with you all as you transverse the long road to recovery. Please stay safe during this difficult time and know that you are all certainly at the top of our thoughts.
Your Free The Children family is sending all our love, support, and deepest sympathies.
Marc and Craig

It was very sad to hear about two earthquakes hitting. Please let us know about the situation.
We know the country and its people  is very strong and capable enough to handle such situation.

We pray for speedy recovery from the damages. All over the world is being hit by earthquakes even in kolkata last week.
Be safe and be well.


Swapan Mukherjee
CCD (NGO in West Bengal, India)


message from Harriet 3