Recently the Bhaktivedanta Ashram opened a new rural relief center in Randiya, approximately 20 km away from our main Ashram in Orissa. With cooperation from the local villagers, a small piece of land was given to us for establishing a permanent relief center in the village. The village consists of people from the very poor adivasi (tribal) community. More than 300 children in the village attend regular programs at the new center.
In order to reduce expenses on infrastructure and increase the funds available for relief we chose to make all buildings from traditional village materials, primarily bamboo, mud and straw. We wanted to create a practical model that could be easily repeated in other villages very economically, allowing us to expand our relief projects without incurring undue expense. Hundreds of millions of villagers throughout India utilize bamboo, mud and straw to build their own homes, so we felt it would be the ideal solution for inexpensive permanent relief centers within the rural villages.
In the present relief center we have begun with weekly distribution of free meals to over 300 children. In addition to this we have installed tube wells for providing clean drinking water to the villagers. The villagers have also requested us to start a small school for the village children, as none of the children have a chance to receive education at present. The government ignores these poor tribal areas and does not provide educational facilities for these villages. A bamboo and mud school building will be setup shortly and a full time teacher will be stationed in the village to take care of the children’s education. In the meantime we are conducting daily programs at the relief center every evening to engage the children in positive educational activities.
We would like to thank Mr. T. R. Puri for sponsoring the food distribution in the new relief center for the first 11 weeks to commemorate the occasion of his daughters wedding. We would also like to thank Dorothy Quick Jones for sending toys for the children in Randiya. Below you will find a few photos of the annadana being conducted at the new relief center in Randiya.