It was the month of July, 2013, the Holy month of Ramzan. Being a follower of Islam, I was fasting. And being a good field researcher I was also busy with my work near Jiadhal River. As an active member of Community Based Flood Early Warning System project, implemented by ICIMOD and Aaranyak on Jiadhal and Singra River of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur district of Assam, since 2013, I had to visit a CBFEWS site on that particular day.
As was usual, we had to ride approximately 30 Kms from our station house (at Gogamukh) to a field site called Kesa Kathani, a village which is located at the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh (but within the boundary of Assam) and through this village Jiadhal river enters Assam. After riding half the distance on good concrete road, we had to ride through a kuttcha road and cross 2 small streams of river channels. It was however much less enthralling or adventurous experience than it sounds, for a wild life or environmental field worker. On that particular day we (myself and Dipmoni), were returning from Kesa Kathani to our station house. It was 3 pm. The clock was running very slow for me as I was hungry and eagerly waiting to eat. We were crossing a small river channel. There was some water flow, but one can easily cross the river. As luck would have it, suddenly our car got stuck in the wet sand in the middle of the channel. Due to heavy weight, the car tires were getting more and more immersed in the soft sand. There were few wood cutters crossing the channel. They also tried helping us to get the car out but all efforts failed. They were local people who warned us to get it out as soon as possible because there is a threat of wild animals as darkness approaches. We had only one option, to pull the car out with another heavy vehicle like a tractor. According to the local farmers the nearest tractor was available at a distance of 2 km from the river channel. When a few local farmers came to know of our identity and that we are from Aaranyak, two of them went off to find the tractor immediately. After about half an hour they came with the tractor. It was already 5:00 pm. Soon it would be sunset.
However, by God’s grace and the support from the local people we could get out the car from the river channel by 5:30 pm. When I asked charges for the tractor, the owner cum driver told us that he usually charges Rs. 2000, but as we are from Aaranyak he would charge only Rs. 500!
The villagers added that Aaranyak did many awareness camps in their villages which really helped them be aware about climate change and its impact.
Now let me tell you another story. It was the month of June, 2015. We were on a trip to ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) for participating at a hands on training on CBFEWS. Along with Aaranyak, participants from Afghanistan and few NGOs from Nepal were also there for the 5-day-workshop. All the speakers, during opening and closing ceremonies, were applauding the work of Aaranyak in Assam regarding the implementation of CBFEWS and its success stories. We personally didn’t know anyone of the participants. But most of the participants were looking for us, the Aaranyak team and wanted to learn many things associated with CBFEWS! Especially, about the social process as this can be considered as Aaranyak’s best practices in spreading flood early warning among vulnerable communities. It was a proud moment for us when higher level authorities of big institutions were praising Aaranyak’s work and appealing other participants to acquire more field based knowledge from us.
Both the stories which I narrated have a common point. That is the brand name of Aaranyak spreading across a large horizon. The activities which are performed by Aaranyak are really benefitting the communities and the funding organization that are associated with them.
I am proud as well as blessed to be a part of Aaranyak.