BHALOPAHAR– An Unique Project dedicated towards Afforestation and Education of Tribal Children.Still a green belt without much fun-fair and publicity, Bhalopahar truly is a seat where nature situates and expresses through clean pollution-free oxygenated air. Surrounded by panoramic ranges of Dalma hills in the horizon, lush green crop fields around sown by us in harvest seasons, the forest at hand with winding strolling paths laid inside, the serene beauty of flower garden that covers ground close to the modest lodges, the flora and fauna enriching the forest and birds chirping at dawn and dusk create some blissful charm and charge the atmosphere with energy. It is a hermitage built by sacrifices and volunteerism that cares for all visitors and chance droppers with hospitality that satisfies.
Bhalopahar is a Society ( Registration number. S/83195 of W.B. Act 26/1961) for Culture, Ecology & Rural Development. and is located at Bandwan block of Purulia District , West Bengal in the border of Jharkand and Orissa.
A small group of dreamers put their heart and soul into an acquired piece of barren land in arid Purulia district, where they so far planted more than a lakh and twenty thousand trees.
It is also an archive for the preservation and propagation of almost extinct as well as existing folk culture from all over the world.
Foundation Day of the Organisation– 1st September.
The Organisation deals in Afforestation and Education of Tribal Children.The key concept is “total education” – a formal school education integrated with rural development, ecology (aforestation and preservation of forest and endangered plant species), conservation of folk culture and tradition, primary health care and community hygeine, farming and cultivation. The dry and empty landscape changed into a lush green forest with small clearings for cultivation of rice and other foodgrains. Near, on the main road, is a campus that houses the school under the shade of a sprawling garden – minimalist in feature, but rich in variety of plants and trees.The dream is to produce a stream of local boys and girls who learn all there is to learn from textbooks but also the lessons we learn only in the cradle of nature. Growing up amidst scents of flowers, shades of trees, songs and drumbeats, these predominantly santhal and other tribal children would grow up as the ‘earth children’ who would learn to care for the environment and the society and not learn to live for themselves only.
The Organisation has a Health Centre which regularly arranges Medical Camps. Any help regarding this would be considered precious. A noteworthy medical event was the restoration of normal life to one of our students, Hapan, suffering of pulmonary hypertension and genetic cardiac disorder.Arrangements are regularly made to distribute essential commodities to Tribals.Several alternative Livelihood Projects, like horticulture, rain-harvesting are arranged to employ man and woman labour alike.A separate department, Bhalo Pahar Chapa Bhuban has been formed to see the production of Bhalo Pahar House Chronicle into a Registered Environment Magazine to tell the world about Nature and its Good Mountain .
Bhalopahar School for Tribal Adivasi Children:
Bhalopahar school functions only up to standard VII, yet it is a school with a difference. To fulfill rural development programs of the society, need was felt to educate the Santhal and other underprivileged children who shall uplift their own community in future, caring at the same time that the communities ultimately do not usher into a future devoid of a sense of their inherent environmental culture among their offspring. Our budding school is an attempt to connect the children with their own culture, so that they begin to take pride in it, while learning to read and write in English and Bengali.
Therefore reciting their stories and songs are as important to us as teaching the English alphabet. Currently, we have 146 students of which 128 come from Santhal communities and the rest belong primarily to the Mahato communities of the area. Since free education does not build value in life, we charge them monthly 30/- as token money and provide books and uniforms at subsidized rate. The children are given free mid-day meal also. Poor people who can not pay even that amount are allowed to pay in kind of labor in Bhalopahar by doing gardening or an odd job for school.
Students in Bhalopahar school pick up formal education among various other things along the way. They learn to realize their own songs, stories and rituals in lime light. They also learn how trees are planted and how plants yield crops. They learn about their own environment, about the trees birds and animals that are part of their world.
All these and more, we believe, reinforce their sense of identity as adivasis. Without criticizing the wanting gaps in our formal education system and defining our goal outside it, we chose to take it on and mould it out in our own way still keeping the children abreast of the best students in the larger society. This way we believe they become respectful in their own as well as neighbor’s culture. Students who know and respect their own root love others also. Thus only they will learn to acknowledge quality of life and strive for the same we believe.
We look forward to have an environmental school with hostel and regular playground and other facilities wherefrom all-square students will graduate in future with your expert kind support. Be a volunteer or a donor, we welcome your advice and shaking hand.
Afforestation & Environment
We have bound ourselves to a much ambitious task of restoring vegetation on the fast receding ecological horizon in a dry area which the environmentalists have classified as an arid-3 zone. The indigenous population dominated by Santhal tribe have lost due to lack of irrigation vast tracts of their cultivation land to brick kiln owners whose unbridled assault on the surface soil has led to large scale erosion of fertile territory. Deforestation has, needless to say, assumed mammoth proportions as trees were indiscriminately felled to provide fuel to these kilns. The few that survived are precarious life lines for the homes and hearths of the economically marginalized Santhals who are now forced into rain fed and shifting cultivation unfortunately aiding to the rape of nature perforce. This development has caused job hunting and mutations in neighbor districts that led to undesirable erosions in the traditional culture of this culturally rich marginalized community.
In tackling this multidimensional problem, Bhalopahar took oath by its dedicated approach to ecological conservation. In the true spirit of volunteerism, we have secured the active participation of some local people, writers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and management professors, government officials and political workers whose basic love for nature and the rich cultural heritage of this region bind them together harnessing on their own resources : both physical, mental and financial, to restore these lands to their pristine glory.
We have actualized our beliefs so far with the support of like minded human beings in the way of donations. We have in the short space of twelve years invested our mind and labor voluntarily to create and protect a plantation of more than 1,50,000 worthy trees of all varieties of Indian roots and local species used extensively by tribal.
Our interest in medicinal herbs has prompted us to undertake the plantation of medicinal trees and herbs prescribed in Ayurveda which qualified doctors and experienced local people hope to use as active supplement to the already freely distributed medicinal support to the poor people through medical camps we organize in the area. In this predominantly drought prone area, the plantation has demanded the watershed management techniques to ensure that forestations could be fruitful. We strongly believe that our work from within the system has helped us to rediscover the strengths of human being from different walks of life in order to effect a synergy of efforts. We call this an oxygen plant which provides carbon credit in a large scale to the consonance of UN charter to challenge global worming threat. We have till now a little green wanting to grow evergreens with support of global citizens utilizing the enormous scope we have created so far
We look for volunteer expert worldwide who are experienced in forestation, watershed, greenhouse, agriculture, compost, alternative energy sources and invite resources of any kind with a view to grow in harmony understanding and tolerating the people and earth.