REPORT THREE: Planning the Community Center
I just got up at 6:30 as usual. This morning, I am feeling a little better than the last few days. There have been some major developments. The house building project is on hold due to the Indian Government proposing to build 1200 homes in Great Nicobar, including 200 for tribal and 500 for non-tribal people near Campbell Bay, 300 home in Gobind Naggar (located 3km from Campbell Bay) and 200 homes in Jogindar Naggar (located 13 km from Campbell Bay) for non-tribal people. Major Santokh saw this document proposing these efforts from the Urban Development Corporation of India Sent to
VISION FOR THE CENTER
We plan to build a Community Center with a computer learning lab. The Center would provide a meeting place for the community... This building would be the first of its kind here.
We plan to build a Community Center with a computer learning lab. The Center would provide a meeting place for the community. There would be a daycare section, a section for older people, a full kitchen with modern conveniences, a place for kid with games, and most importantly, we would install a computer learning center at one end.
The computer lab would be amazing for the kids here. I feel in order to make a long term impact of good, we need to concentrate on the youth. Computers would go a long ways in exposing these kids to outside technologies and presenting opportunities for their future. They would learn English, Punjabi/Gurmukhi, and Computer Science. They are not getting proper education in any of these subjects, and they need this education. I will put my own money directly into computers. I hope the people who donated will understand that the immediate needs of the people here have been met and we are looking long-term in improving the lives of the people through education.
Through the children, the adults will also benefit. We will have a video conferencing center and run classes online. Navneet thinks there should also be seminars for adults where they could ask questions and find answers on the internet. For example, one could ask what is the best fertilization schedule for growing coconuts or how can we find new markets for our produce. This information source could bring this island into the 21st century. I am very excited about this. I hope all the people back home who have helped and given so much will like this idea and support it. I feel it could make a real difference in the future of the children here. This project will help generations to come have access to modern technology.
The project would have two-phases: (1) temporary computer learning lab, and then (2) permanent Community Center with the computer lab. We would like to build the permanent Community Center of about 3000 square feet using a prefabricated building from mainland
NEED COMPUTERS-- URGENT
We need ten computers as soon as possible to start the computer lab... Anyone can donate.
We need ten computers as soon as possible to start the computer lab. We need companies and individuals to donate both used and new computers Pentium III or better. Anyone can donate. Donors can send their computers to our house, and we will provide the shipping to the island. Computers can be sent to:
Judge Singh Brar (Computer Lab)
I need these computers ASAP. If we have to buy new ones ourselves, it would be better to buy an Indian brand so they could be serviced here. They would cost RS 35,000. The exchange is 40 to 1. So less than $1,000 each. But if we get the computers at little or no cost, it will give us that much more money to use for teachers and building rental costs. Eventually, the computer learning lab will have video-conferencing cameras, laser printers, and more technologies, but we need ten computers to get started.
If this view site was in any other place in the world, it would be worth millions... I just wish I could get some pictures out so you could see for yourself the beauty of this land.
While we set up the temporary computer learning lab, we are looking for land for the permanent Community Center. The permanent center would be a prefabricated building, 3000 square feet at 20 X 150 feet. I would like to locate it among the jungle forest to provide a serene and quite setting. The jungle here is extremely thick and lush. We have seen some awesome building sites. Now the question is how to secure one close to town.
I took a ride on the motorcycle one evening to a highpoint in the coast road that runs along and above the air field the military uses. Navneet went with me and we looked for the best sites for a building. At about 3 km from town we came to a stretch of the road where there was a 180 degree view of
This land may be too far from town. Yesterday a Congressman from
We have become friends with John Robert, a native of Great Nicobar, who runs the government satellite communication center, where I write emails. Navneet and I talked to him until 1 am this morning about our idea to establish a computer lab. It seems that he is our man. If anyone can help us, he can. John has taught computers to children here on the island before and had run side business until the tsunami wiped it out. He is licensed to give upper-division computer course certificates valid in the mainland. He has bought into a franchise, so we need to buy or pro-rate it from him to provide these kids a certificate. John is very interested and seems sincere. John said that we just need approval from the Governor and we can tie our lab into the dish at this
We’re making 15 second video clips of each child telling about himself and asking for sponsorship for his/her education.
We have videotaped all the children who wish to have a better education and whose parents are willing to let them go out of here. We’re looking for sponsors to send these kids to better schools on the mainland. We’re making 15 second video clips of each child telling about himself and asking for sponsorship for his/her education. Then we would place a profile with information on age, parents’ education, personal interests, and other things of interest to sponsors. We would place all the information on a website to seek sponsors.
Josh led a group in organizing a day of sack races, running races, and food and drinks with french fries... The kids loved it.
On Saturday, we organized a Sports Day for the children. This is a day that we have all looked forward to. Josh led a group in organizing a day of sack races, running races, and food and drinks with french fries (Josh calls them chips). The school agreed to let us use the field and serve refreshments. We had such a great time. The kids loved it. Josh led the event with a typical English sports enthusiasm. He led cheers and got all the kids into an excited mood. We even had a soccer (football) game between teachers and United Sikhs. We donated all the sports gear that UNITED SIKHS and Pingal Wara sent from the mainland to the school. I gave away the toys that my wife Dolly bought to the kids as prizes. She even got a big hand from all the kids when I hade the teacher tell them the prizes were from her in the
Unfortunately some of the adults did not like the carefree and child-like nature of the event that they were not used to. There were some party poopers, like the president of the school and parents thought that we adults were acting like children. They have no clue. They have never seen the kids so engrossed and well behaved, all watching. It was conducted in much the way school rallies are. I thought it was great and someone told me they had never seen the kid so involved and attentive. After the Sports Day, we were heroes. All the kids were rallying around us. Everyone recognizes us now. Kids run up to us and people on bicycles yell hello: “Satsriakal, Judge Sahib!” It’s a small island and everyone knows us now. It’s a neat feeling. I’ve had a really good last few days.
STORIES OF SURVIVORS
A 22-year old Nicobari woman was just discovered after 51 days in the jungle. This hasn’t made national news yet.
There’s a man here by the name of Jab Singh. His son was paralyzed from the waist-down because of the tsunami. The organization Pingal Wara in
A 22-year old Nicobari woman was just discovered after 51 days in the jungle. This hasn’t made national news yet. She is in the hospital. She survived on pigs and coconuts. She walked out on her own; no one saved her. I hope to talk to her.
The Home Minister of
The Chief Minister of
His speech was amazing, but no one believed him. There were chanting and yelling. A riot scene broke. I got it on tape. Everyone thought that I was a reporter and tried to give me their comments.
Despite the skepticism of the villagers, the Indian Government plans to do a lot here. Our building any homes would not be the best thing right now, because if we do it, it will diminish what they get from the government. So we shift gears and turn to the Community Center.
Much of the town of
I began teaching the kids how to swim. Can you believe they live on an island and they don’t know how to swim! I taught them how to back float... For a moment, I forgot where I was and all that has happened here and was lost in the embrace of the ocean.
I have been a little under the weather the last few days but I feel better today. I think it was the dust created in the cleaning process at the Gurdwara. There is still a lot of politics going on, and no one wants to make a decision as to what they want or need. We have been eating langar at the Gurdwara and it is quite good. The food is from the supplies from UNITED SIKHS. Most of the group will be leaving soon including Navneet. I will miss them all; we have shared some good experiences and some rough ones.
I had felt very frustrated with the progress we’ve made. Although we have helped the people with their immediate needs, such as typing up document to the government and getting them langar (open kitchen) supplies, we had not accomplished our long-term goals. It seems that just as we have an idea to do something, like the houses were going to build, it gets stopped by new developments. But this idea of building the Community Center has given me new hope and energy. I believe it will make a real difference for these children and for generations to come.
We went swimming yesterday. They had been doing but this was the first time I joined them. The water is wonderful. It’s a paradise. The water’s warm and the little kids came out. I began teaching the kids how to swim. Can you believe they live on an island and they don’t know how to swim! I taught them how to back float. For a moment, I forgot where I was. Palm trees swaying, perfect sand. It is warm enough to stay in for hours if you want. I forgot where I was and all that has happened here and was lost in the embrace of the ocean. I loved it so much I would like to make it a daily ritual if I can find time. I hope that some day we can all come here and enjoy the beauty and serenity of this land together.