During a two day visit at Nandurbar, Maharashtra we visited several tribal villages in the mountains of Satpuda Range, one of the mountain chains that separates North from South India.
The people live up in the mountains, their houses are distant from each other. The roads are small and people move mainly with bikes or by walk. For urgent cases there is a motorbike ambulance. However, traveling there requires time. It’s an impressive landscape, and even more impressive and kind are the tribal people living here. Most of the tribal people are “bhil tribes” and “pawara tribes”.
The Bhil are one of the largest tribal groups, living in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. The name is derived from the word ‘billu’, which means bow. The Bhil are known to be excellent archers coupled with deep knowledge about their local geography. Pawara (also spelled as Pavar and Puar) is an Indian surname found among Koli, Maratha or Mahar castes in Maharashtra. Maratha Pawar claim descent from the Parmar clan of Rajput’s.
CInI, one of the NGOs under the Tata trust and one of our NGO partners in the System changer network India is very active here in 10 villages of Dhadgaon block in the Nandurbar district.
The most urgent needs?
Water, income generation and access to existing governmental schemes as also higher education levels.
Our partner NGO CINI – in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim – has invested a lot of efforts in the past months to build wells, drip irrigation and interesting farming programs as well as buck (goats) induction.
Sweet Strawberries from the mountains
Unexpected to me and other visitors, but very delicious are the strawberry fields which grow here very well. Organic growth and good soil produce even a lot of other delicious fruits, such as water melons and mangos…
There is still a lot more to tell, however, let me share a final insight about the houses:
As bamboo is available everywhere, there are a lot of houses with bamboo walls. Inside the houses people live in one big room. The wealthier people do the same. Everyone in the family lives in this one same room where all activities, such as cooking, sleeping, reading, family talks and all other daily life activities take place. When I asked why they do not separate rooms inside, they tell me: “if you start to separate rooms, then families start to separate…”. Well, there might be some truth in it. Privacy and personal preferences to live in specific ways for sure are not part of these tribal cultures. And isn’t it from there , from putting walls and creating private rooms that individual lifestyles and with that also a lot of separations start?
Listen here also to an interview with one of my Indian colleagues, Prahbat, about Accessibility issues in our project areas: