We arrived in Lalitpur after our latest Mussoorie trip on Friday last week. We stepped out of the train just before noon into a sauna. You have to feel the heat here to believe it. It feels like… well, you get the sense that if I marianated myself with some curd and ginger-garlic paste and Amma’s secret curry powder – I would be a tasty tandoori treat. As it is the sun (ok the UV rays from our nearest star) already turn my melanin-deprived skin into various shades of red from rose to salmon to stop-light hues. So I look the part a tandoori-chicken on the outside too.
The saving grace was noticing that the ground outside our house was soft. It had rained in Lalitpur the previous night. We could feel the humidity of the previous rainfall and see the splash marks in the dust.
We continued to bake for the next 3 days, and then what we hoped for took place. It rained. And it rained again. And it rained a third day in a row. Not just a few splashes of water, but steady, goodly stuff. Not quite buckets being emptied out from the sky, but certainly enough to gush all over and bring a delicious coolness to everything.
Our friends tell us that we have already had more rain in these few days than Lalitpur had all year in the scanty monsoon of 2015 – and that too being a second year of drought in a row!
Most of our work in the community for the past year has been in the shadow – or should we say the unsparingly harsh sun-shine - of drought. We have structured a lot of our work to respond to this through facilitating ‘cash-for-work’ activities. These allow people in the villages to earn through manual labour on land-treatment activities linked with water conservation. With cash in hand, we were hoping to help some of our families stay in the village instead of migrating for work.
What a beautiful relief to have these delicious drops pouring down. We got so much rain that our dear “Papaya” (nano car) has been stuck in the mud in its parking place.
The rain has not come back accident. God says in His word that He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. We have been praying, as have folks all over our nation and in other parts of this dear planet… for rain. And we need to keep praying, as the full onslaught of the monsoon has not hit us yet. The steady constant sheets of water that we are looking for have not yet been tasted, but we hope – and pray – that they will.
Mr. Baswaraj, who has come for a month to help us out with the watershed management work, has said that the small ‘bunds’ (earthen ridges) which some of our villagers have built on the edge of the beneficiaries’ fields are doing their work: water has been gathering which previously had just flowed away, not recharging the water table and carrying away precious top soil. But now it has the opportunity to percolate down – and farmer’s fields are staying with them too.
Having felt answered prayers as wet splashes on our faces – we don’t want to stop. We want a full monsoonal deluge – with the right amount of rain over the next few months for farmers to get a bumper crop and for the ground water to be fully recharged.
Getting enough water this year will help us avoid this:
(note the Eicher tractor!)
This is a water tanker that one of the villages had brought from another place so that their households would have drinking water early last month.
We know that the impact of our watershed management activities in the 15 villages we are working in will be very modest. They will have some impact, we believe, but are far away from covering all the landscape. However, we do hope that their impact will be felt locally. We hope that wells near the farm-bunds and gully plugs will fill up faster. And our desire is that through the hard work of working together, our local village watershed management committees and self-help groups will grow in confidence and be able to access bigger tasks and opportunities in the coming days.
The rain has come. We hope, and pray, for more.
What a joy to already see a thin shade of light green as new grass is already sprouting from the soft earth. What a pleasure to have house where everything is not glowing with heat. Beautiful rain. Welcome monsoon – you wet blessing from our dear Lord Jesus who loves our India so very much.