Namma Bhoomi: A Small NGO with Big Plans

Last weekend we went to the NGO Namma Bhoomi. Literally meaning “Our Land,” this small organization in Karnataka is doing big things for the employment prospects of hundreds in the state. Based on education and offering equal opportunities for boys and girls, this NGO teaches “life skills” in addition to academic courses to boys and girls both at the elementary/middle/high school level and they also offer vocational training that lasts a year and a half to those ages 16+.

Formalities first, we had some questions and information served with tea when we first arrived.

In the next 5 years Namma Bhoomi hopes to receive government recognition. This will make it easier to recruit students (all too often after gaining an “education” in ill-equipped public and even tuition-based private schools, students are not employable – thus many parents don’t see any reason to send them to school). They also want to be recognized as a type of school and training that can be used as a model for similar centres in India.

We saw and met some of the kids, and we toured around the professional training centre. Anyone (male or female) could learn skills pertaining to: hair & beauty, electrical, weaving, carpentry, garments and construction

The NGO doesn’t receive government funding (which is good since government funding is unreliable) and is privately financed, by handicrafts that their students produce from the vocational training, the tuition that students have to pay, and international NGO support. However the program has recently taken in children who would be in “foster care” because their parents died from HIV. These children are the responsibility of those at the center, and hopefully will have a bright future! The center hopes to have more support from successful “alumni” of their programs to provide more funding to expand their programs in the future.

Weaving dupatta (scarves) at the centre. It takes steady weaving for about two hours to weave one scarf.

The elementary age children learn how to milk and tend for the cows as a part of their “life skills.” These cows are very prosperous and happy. Namma bhoomi births about one cow a year. We visited 3 days after a calf had been born!

For things where purified water isn’t needed, the NGO utilized rain water harvesting. In the monsoon season the water is generally plenty, while things were scarce for the entire state of Karnataka during the “dry” season.

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