NASI in India | a one-off disaster appeal - Paldywan Kenobi

Palden Jenkins
Retired author, photographer, webmaster, historian and humanitarian
Palden Jenkins
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NASI in India | a one-off disaster appeal

This was a support project I did in 2013-14 to support a disaster-ridden sustainability project in Orissa, India, following a cyclone there. The appeal below is no longer in operation. However, it is still possible to contact Satyabrata Misra or even to visit the project in India.

Cyclone damage at the
Native Agriculture with Sustainable Insights Project (NASI)

Organic farming and village education in Orissa, India

Direct, small-scale people-to-people disaster assistance

Appeal started 22nd October 2013, closed in January 2014.

Here is a report from Satyabrata Misra, sent on 30th June 2014, about what has happened as a result of this appeal.

Dear Palden,

Namaskar. Hope you are fine and doing well.

It’s already a long time now that I am not in touch with you. The only reason was that we were too much busy in fixing the things around here. In fact it was your help that set fire to our dampened spirit. It added fresh energy and enthusiasm in us to work vigorously to lift ourselves up from the wreckage.

Together with some village friends, girl students of the local girl school and few hired labourers we worked ten hours a day both inside and outside in the village for nearly two months in order to bring the things into order.

Our first work was to clear up all the debris like the fallen down roof, the broken down walls, the rooted out trees that was scattered all around NASI. It was a huge task indeed.  Secondly we fixed the class rooms and the living house by changing the entire broken bamboo roof structure with new ones  and fixing it with fresh straw. We had to buy 6 thousand bundles of fresh straws for the purpose. As there was a scarcity, we collected this straw from several villages by paying almost double of the normal price.  Restoring the electricity supply was the 3rd important work that we did.  We had to spend around five thousand rupees to replace one bent down iron poll, buy wires and other necessary accessories to fix it.

The next essential job was to fix the cow house that was worst affected. The entire roof and the walls were almost completely broken down. Five thousand bricks were necessary to rebuild the walls and the pillars. In addition to that we had to buy cement, river-sand and hire the mason and carpenter to rebuild it.  In each and every step we had to spend unexpected amount of money.  I write below the details of expenditure that we have done so far with your gift amount. The price of different house building material is quite high these days. The wages of the labour and the mason is equally high.

In each and every step of our renovation work we have tried to get best out of spending as little as possible though in certain situations it was not possible for us to be too miserly. It is very sad to say that many valuable books are spoiled. Drying the drenched books was not enough to restore it. Especially the mythological books with art paper plates are stuck together. Trying to open it is damaging it further. It's certainly an irreparable loss to the library and to the future readers as well. However we have taken enough care to restore these valuable books.

You will be hppy to know that my elder sister who works as a teacher in a college and my mother donated 10 and 5 thousand rupees respectively for the restoration purpose. To our bad luck the damage was so huge and the price of the things are so high that we were not able to finish the work . The requirement of different building materials for the reconstruction of the cow house that was collapsed was unexpectedly higher that our budget. We we wanted to finish it before the arrival of the monsoon but failed. We ended up with no money at hand to go further.

Though we have finished almost 60% of the work, there is another 40% is to be done before we could put the cows in. There is a need of about 30 thousand rupees more to fix the roof, the doors etc. Now the cows are in a temporary shade. In the summer it was alright but when the monsoon has arrived, it is a big problem now for them to stay outside. Further we need to buy some new books and teaching materials for the children that was completely damaged. For this purpose we need atleast 10 thousand rupees more.

At this situation we request you again to see if the wellwishers of NASI could send us little more help to complete the cow house and buy the required books etc. For the knowledge of our valued friends I attach herewith few photographs and the expenditure details. Together with the entire NASI family I send my deep gratitude to you and all your generous friends for sharing their love with us without which it was certainly  impossible for us to get out of the debris and sadness. I personally thank you and all the NASI Friends again for their timely support that restored the smile in the face of these children.

With lots of love and regards to  you I remain for now.

With love and regards


Expenditure Details

1. 5,000 bricks @ Rs. 3800/- per one thousand bricks including transportation charge  Rs. 19,000.00
2. 22 Bags of Cement @ Rs. 360/- per Bag including trolly fare  Rs. 7,920.00
3. 2 Tractor loads of Sand @ Rs. 1200/- per load   Rs. 2,400.00
4. Electricity restration expenses  Rs. 4,850.00
5. 6 thousand bundles of Straw @ 70/- per one hundred bundles + Rs. 20/- transportation cost per one hundred bundles  Rs.  5,400.00
6. 2 Palm trees including the labour cost to cut it into pieces according to our need and transportation charge by tractor  Rs. 3,700.00
7. Mason to rebuild the cow house (Total 12 days @ Rs. 350/- per day)  Rs. 4,200.00
8. Carpenter  (Total 7 days @ Rs. 350/- per day)  Rs. 2,450.00
9. Expert labourers to fix the straw roof (Total 12 labourers @ Rs. 250/- per labour)   Rs. 3,000.00
10. General Labours (15 Lady Labourers @ Rs. 150/- per day)   Rs. 2,250.00
11. General Labours (22 Gents Labours @ Rs. 200/- per day)  Rs. 4,400.00
12. Miscellaneous purchases like coil rope, nails, pvc pipe, iron road, bamboo baskets etc   Rs. 3,500.00

Total               Rs. 63,070.00

Pictures of repairs in progress

Pictures of the damage after the cyclone (taken December 2013)

           Coconut trees, blown down                                         Drying books in the sun                                          Drenched belongings

               Fallen down cow house                                           Classroom destroyed                                       Wrecked living house and well

Background material from the original appeal (November 2013)

This is a personal appeal for your help in rescuing a good project run by a friend of mine in India, Satyabrati Misra, from serious and recent cyclone damage.

An explanation of the situation is below, in a letter straight from Satyabrata. I personally vouch for him, his vision, integrity and good character. I organised a support appeal after the last cyclone in 1999 and it worked well - NASI is a good cause, well managed, low-budget and generally doing well.

It is an organic farm, teaching centre and village school, a contributor to healthy rural development of a good kind in India. On the left is a picture of how it looked before the cyclone struck.

Normally this project is self-sustaining in its work and financial turnover, but the cyclone has ruined much. They need quick assistance to help them get going again. Please put something into the pot, and I shall send it to India, monitor progress, maintain dialogue with Satyabrata and keep donors informed about results.

Here is an e-mail from Satyabrata Misra describing the situation.

Satyabrata MisraNamaskar.

It was another day of hard work.

As there is no power in the village I came to the town to check my mail. Palden, I am very happy to receive your warm letter. I am glad that you have posted our story in your facebook page for your many noble friends. Thank you for taking our issue of plight with enough seriousness and care.

I am optimistic that we are going to get some positive response from your valued friends. As you have asked, here I am going to furnish you with the elaborated facts of ground reality and about the magnitude of loss that cyclone Philine has caused us.

NASI (Native Agriculture with Sustainable Insights) is situated in a tranquil place about a kilometer away from the village. This patch of slightly elevated land is surrounded by vast rice fields.

In the NASI campus we have four houses with brick walls and straw roof. The first one is the school for the children with classrooms, the second one is the boarding house for the children, the third one is the cow house and the last one is our living house.

The roofs of all these houses are made of bamboo and straw from our own rice field. The violent wind that blew for more that 24 hours took away almost all the straw leaving only the bamboo skeleton, allowing the heavy rain to pour into the rooms. The rain continued round the clock, destroying all the household things including books, dresses, beds and foodstuffs for everybody, including the cows.

Finally, as the cyclone continued, we had to leave NASI, leaving the animals in the cow house, to take shelter in a nearby concrete house of a retired teacher friend.  What we saw after the rain and wind stopped was not the same NASI. It was all devastated. The walls and the roof of our living house and the cow house was broken down by the fallen trees and sad there was only destruction all around.

After the Super Cyclone of 1999, with the help of your generous friends like Mal McClure, Dr Evans and Dr Gilbertson we managed to reconstruct the living house, cow house, buy cows and planted a good number of fruit and other plants.

Unfortunately this situation has been repeated. Nearly one hundred teak, mango, coconut, acacia and other full-grown trees are uprooted. These coconut and mango trees were giving us a good return every year and we had the expectation to get many thousand rupees from other trees in few more years' time.

In order to construct these above said houses we made our own bricks years ago. In this way we got the bricks at a cheaper rate and by the time the brickmaking was over we got a pond ready to have fish in it. Last year we had put varieties of sweet water fish in this pond. We had the dream to get a good return of at least 20 to 25 thousand rupees this year.

But sadly the pond was flooded and all the fishes have gone. Again the rice, the crop that feeds us for the whole year, and the grass grown for the cows, was completely washed away. We won't get any rice to eat or straw to fix the roofs and feed the cows.

Now we are going through a very difficult time, cleaning NASI bit by bit, by ourselves. There are not enough funds to spend on hired labour, there is not enough food for the animals and above all there are no resources to fix the damage caused. It was in my hour of desperation that I felt your warm presence around and thought of writing to you about this misfortune.

The relief we got from the government was just a mockery. Two packets with few kilograms of rice, biscuits, flattened rice, and a piece of plastic for the roof was what we got. The food now consumed though the piece of plastic is helping us a lot.

I don’t have a digital camera to take pictures and send it to you. But I will see if I can borrow a camera from a friend and take few pictures. I hope this much of description is more or less enough for your friends at the moment.

We love you Palden. Thank you very much for taking care of us at this real hour of trouble. Hope you are fine and doing well.

With regards,

This appeal is now closed. The NASI project was sent the sum of 510 GBP or INR 52,067 in January 2014, and Satyabrata's account of what happened as a result is on this page.

However, Satyabrata has appealed for further support. I am unable to do this (busy with Middle East issues) and I welcome a volunteer to take on this time-limited task.
E-mail me if you are interested.

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the appeal. If you are interested in supporting this project or visiting it in India, then you are welcome to contact Satyabrata directly. (Give time for him to answer, since he deals with e-mails from an internet cafe in a neighbouring town, and he's a busy man!).

If you wish to e-mail Satyabrata yourself, click here
- but if you require answers from him, please remember he has a lot on his plate right now, so please limit making requests for him to reply. Thanks.

This is a private initiative by Palden and those who have participated. It's a small-scale, ground-level, simple, direct P2P disaster relief opportunity.

It is not intended to continue this support longterm or to form an organisation - the people at NASI just need some disaster relief now, to help them rebuild and revive.

To e-mail Palden, click here.


MSWord files:
NASI Brochure
About Satyabrata Misra

This poster was on the wall at NASI
- until the cyclone struck.

Please say a prayer for them or send a message of support.

On behalf of Satyabrata Misra and the
Native Agriculture with Sustainable Insights project in Orissa, India:

thank you for your interest!

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