Saturday, March 24, 2012

Naming Place Eco-Art Project - Thanks to Udaipur Helpmates

The Naming Place Eco-Art Exchange project was initiated by Jamie Andrews, Community Engagement Coordinator of the Children's Museum & Theater of Maine, and myself on behalf of Udaipur's Big Medicine Charitable Trust. Though the program was launched without funding as a bare-bones pilot project, it has proved to be a deeply meaningful and satisfying endeavor thanks to all those who participated and helped us along the way. The most rewarding aspect of the project has been the contagious symmetrical enthusiasm of our target audiences - the 4th graders of Presumpscot Elementary school in Portland, Maine and their counterparts in Maharana Mewar Vidya Mandir, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Hanumanji Temple
for cool and fresh water

In Udaipur, our gratitude goes to Sri. Lakshayaraj Singhji Mewar, trustee of the Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation, Sri Sanjay Dutta, Principal of Maharana Mewar Public School (MMPS) and Smt. Jhumur Ghelot, Headmistress of Maharana Mewar Vidya Mandir (MMVM) for welcoming the project and providing valuable in-kind support.

We also deeply appreciate the invaluable aid of Sri Maqbool Abassi, senior art teacher at Maharana Mewar, in facilitating our initial conversation with Mr. Dutta regarding the project, overseeing its progress and video documenting it for future use. We thank MMPS art teacher Sri Bhaskar Choudary for assisting the project, counseling the 4th graders during their art work and videoing them as well. MMVM Science teacher Taranjeet Kaur Gambhir deserves a special vote of thanks for developing a multiple choice questionnaire on "Water and Water Bodies" for the students to gauge their understanding before and after the project. We thank MMVM computer teachers Kavita Pandya and Shreejay Singh Rathore for their technical assistance and Kaushaliya for the helpful service during the classroom presentations.

Ambamata Goddess Temple
public drinking water facilities
Big Medicine Charitable Trust (BMCT) also received generous support from the extended Udaipur community that enabled this project. Sri Manish Golcha, part time staff of BMCT, took me all over the city to photograph the Udaipur lakes, the Ayar River, the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) water towers, hand pumps, pipelines and the Udaipur Municipal Department's sewage lines and garbage dumpsters in the city's watershed area. Many of these photos were included in our Powerpoint presentation to the 4th graders on the cultural and historical context of our water bodies and their current state. My presentation also touched on the water supply and sewage system available in the city. Sri. Jera Ram, senior PHED engineer kindly informed us about the city's water supply infrastructure and Dr. Bhupender Soni of the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board explained the nitrate & phosphate contamination of Udaipur's lakes and their low dissolved oxygen levels.

BMCT trustee Dr. Kiran Murdia visited Udaipur's Chief Medical Officer to collect information on water-borne diseases in the city. The CMO's office takes water samples from both PHED water supply sources and non-PHED sources. The CMO's office informed Dr. Murdia that their recent PHED & non-PHED water samples had satisfactory results.
A private water tanker

signage on water tanker
"Water is life"

Sri Phagun Baya, a young Udaipur computer wizard helped with the technical aspects of the Powerpoint presentation and Udaipur artists Sri Sayed Irshad Ali, Sri Chiman Dange and Sri Gopal Nagda shared some of their water and ecology related art with the fourth graders. Dr. Satya Prakash Mehra, Conservation Biologist & founder director of the Rajputana Society of Natural History, concluded our five-day program at MMVM with an excellent presentation on Udaipur's watershed and biodiversity that delighted the student audience.

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