Pic 1


These days, Rakhi Seva's work covers a broad array of activities. Our focus is still clean drinking water but our scope has grown as we do our best to address the needs of the communities we serve.

Rakhi Seva took part in some way in each of the activities shown in the photos at left and in the banner above.


You can read about some of these activities and meet some of our friends.



This past year we have continued to repair handpumps and install new ones. The photo at right is of a handpump that we installed on an open well. This handpump will help to keep the well water clean because a rope and bucket, a common source of bacterial contamination, is no longer required to access the water. This particular well is located on a path that leads to a temple high up on a hill. The temple, Kamal Nath, is locally famous and is a pilgrimage site for many devotees from much of Mewar and parts of Gujarat, a neighbouring state. So, this handpump also provides easy access to clean drinking water for travelers on their way up to the temple.

In our continuing effort to help people to learn how to manage their own resources, Rakhi Seva conducts trainings in handpump repair and maintenance. The two photos below show the practical portion of these trainings. I particularly like these training programs because we always fix a handpump at the end of the training.

training pic


handpump well

handpump training pic



well deepening



In previous years, Rakhi Seva's water harvesting activities focused on the household. We helped in the construction of tanks and roof top water catchment systems at twelve homes. This year we continued with that program at five additional households. Villagers themselves chose these households at a community meeting. At the same meeting, it was decided that a program of water harvesting that benefited the larger community should be undertaken. This was in response to three years of inadequate rainfall. Ground water levels were so low that most people were not able to plant a wheat crop last year. So, early this year, we deepened the main irrigation well. This is shown in the photo at left.

Well deepening isn't water harvesting. In fact, deepening a well can have an adverse effect on other wells in the area, especially when the deepened well is used for irrigation. The amount of water drawn to irrigate crops exceeds by far the amount drawn for drinking water purposes. It is, therefore, prudent to supplement a program of well deepening with one that ensures the same well will be recharged. The work shown in the photo below left is such a program. In the local nala (seasonal river) a large recharge pit was dug and filled with stones. This particular program had a number of benefits. First of all, it provided needed income for those families who, for lack of water, did not have a wheat crop last year. Secondly, this program presented a simple and cost effective method of improving ground water stores. This is because no machines were used to dig this rather large pit. Just picks and the local version of shovels were used along with a few grunts and groans. Finally, as this years rains were good, this program has helped to achieve the highest well water level in recent memory, surpassing even the water level recorded after the flood-rains of 2006.

The photo below shows "pay day" for labour contributed during the recharge-pit construction. Every family contributed and every family benefited.

Water harvesting program payment



Inspired by the effectiveness of similar programs implemented by Seva Mandir, Rakhi Seva started a seed bank in the village of Piplimala. We purchased maize seed from a local university. The seed that they provided us with is a hybrid with a short growing season. This seed characteristic is ideal in this environment considering that the rainy season is often short, sparse or both. Although we believe that maize is not the ideal crop for this population in terms of nutrition, it is a crop that has been grown for generations and has become part of the local tradition. In the future we will help re-introduce other grains that were once the grains of choice for the local population.

The photo at right is of Rajmal and Mavli Behen sowing maize. The photo lower right shows fields of maize through the trees. The photo below is of one family's harvest.

We have also started a seed bank for the current wheat-growing season. The bank works in this way: Rakhi Seva has provided the original seed stock; however, the participating families own this stock. For every kilogram of seed that a family "borrows" from the bank one and a half kilograms must be returned to the bank after harvest. This ensures that the seed bank will grow and allow more families to participate. Also, the seed bank will become a food bank for the poorer families in the village and for families whose harvests are lean. The most recent maize harvest was a success for the seed bank.

seed bank 3


seed bank 1

seed bank 2



hardship relief 1

hardship relief 2


From time to time, we are introduced to individuals or families that are in the midst of particularly tough times. We have helped people by supplying interest-free business loans, we have created work programs, and sometimes when the need is great we just help. The photos at left are an example of when we just help. The upper left photo is of the roof of a family's home in a nearby village. The father of the current tenant built the house many years ago. Those years had taken their toll and the roof caved in early this year. With the monsoon fast approaching, this family feared that what little they had would be totally washed away. Rakhi Seva mobilized the community. Friends, family and neighbours supplied labour. Some people fetched wood and bamboo from the jungle, some made food for the labourers and others rebuilt the roof. Rakhi Seva supplied materials that could not be sourced from the jungle. The lower left photo is the "after" photo. The work was finished prior to the monsoon's arrival.

The girls in the photo below live in this house. Although, as this photo shows, they were a little dismayed when a crew showed up and started dismantling their home, they were thrilled when the work was complete.

hardship relief 3


Health Care

There are times when someone will come to my door in the middle of the night looking for some help. Such was the case when Hukri bai came asking if I had something for a "belly ache". It turns out that her daughter-in-law, Vasu bai, who was pregnant, was in labour. I carried Vasu and Hukri the eleven kilometres to the hospital on the back of my motorcycle. Now, it wasn't the pitch-black night, or the lack of a good road, nor the fact that we were 3 (or actually 4) on a motorbike that made it a bit tense. These things were all normal. I think it was the point when I thought I heard Vasu exclaim, over the roar of the engine, that her water broke. As she was riding sidesaddle, I thought that she might just slip right off. In the end, it all worked out. Anita was born healthy and both she and her mom are doing fine. Vasu and Anita are shown in the photo to the right.

Helping people access the health care system has become a major part of what Rakhi Seva does. We have helped with relatively minor injuries like the broken collarbone of Ponree bai shown below right to major illnesses such as that afflicting Roshan lal shown in the photo below. Roshan's story is a special one that I will elaborate on another time. I can tell you now that surgeons removed a 12-kilogram tumour from his abdomen. He required lots of blood that Rakhi Seva helped to procure. I can also tell you that he is doing fine. He will receive chemotherapy treatments for the next 6 months and we will continue to monitor his progress and assure that he gets proper nutrition, as he is malnourished.

Health Care 3


Health Care 1

Health Care 2


Follow Up

Last year I ended our update with two photos showing the remarkable change in health of a severely malnourished child. One of those photos is shown upper left. This is Jagdish when I first met him just over a year ago. The photo at middle left is of another boy, Dinesh, taken at about the same time as the one of Jagdish. These boys spent two weeks in the hospital together. For both children, stage-4 protein-energy malnutrition was the diagnosis. Dinesh was severely anemic with a hemoglobin level of just 2.3, normal is 11 or 12 and above. Jagdish had the typical characteristics of a marasmus child: facial features that made him look elderly, no body fat, dry wrinkled skin and very irritable. Both boys required blood transfusions and were fed through tubes.

Doctors here have told me that the survival rate of severely malnourished children is quite low. There is a point of no return. The body's ability to recognize and absorb nutrients is governed by proteins. When the body is protein malnourished it eventually loses its ability to absorb anything at all.

During their stay in the hospital I watched these boys change. Just as importantly I saw their parents change. With hindsight I now know that all four parents believed that their children would not survive. And, if their children were going to die, they wanted them to die at home. It is unfortunate that in these villages it is the norm for children in such condition to die. These parents were not being pessimistic they were being realistic. During the first week at the hospital I felt their urgency to go home. But, I knew that going home surely meant that the boys would die.

Daily conversations filled with encouragement and acknowledgement of the little milestones that the boys would pass inspired all to stay the course. Those little milestones became large ones: a daily weight gain of 100 grams, focused attention and even a smile. Then I saw it. Jagdish and Dinesh's parents became believers as they saw the life coming back into their children. The boys had successfully pulled their parents through this ordeal.

I was told once that, in this area that we work, malnutrition is a problem and there is not much that we can do about it. I beg to differ. Rakhi Seva has helped many children make the journey back from malnutrition. Jagdish and Dinesh are proof that we can do something about it. In the lower left corner is a recent photo of Dinesh. And, directly below is Jagdish. These days everyone is smiling. I bet that you are now, too.







Thanks for taking the time