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Our Women’s Soul Trip to DILASA’s centre in Ghatanji in Yavatmal district comprised of Preeti, Bharatiben, Sonia from GIVE India Foundation and Moumita, with Nimeshbhai as our trip leader. We left on 19th March,Thursday evening by Vidarbha Express and reached Dhamangaon station next day.


Day 1, 20th March

 Our first meeting was with Dr. Anil Patel, ENT. His personality speaks a lot about him. He is a man of principle, Gandhian, dedicated to serve people around Yavatmal. His son Dr. Gautam Patel is also ENT & joined his father in Humanitariun Journey.Between both of them, they serve patients at their clinic & 16 villages of Yavatmal. Their system is so good that you can get every patient’s history since 1980 from them. Meeting both of them was very satisfying! His slogan is M.D.M.S.-Minimum Drugs, Minimum Surgery. They are creating lot of awareness among people about the problems of ENT & their solutions


We then reached the very beautiful Dilasa Centre where we were welcomed by Mr. Madhukar Das (Director of Dilasa), his wife Vijaya, son Sujal and Mr. Mansoor Bhai along with the other staff of Dilasa.

As you enter DILASA you feel happy with freshness in the atmosphere! Kilbil Dinner Place is under big Peepal tree, with birds welcoming you. It's so pleasant that you feel like sitting there only.


Dilasa has a nice place. They have Kitchen space for cooking,  storage and dining . One one side they have dormitory and common toilets. There is a cowshed with 4-5 cows.An Office room, a hall and very nice guest rooms. There is a small kitchen garden & khas grass, fruit trees, Bamboo trees. There is greenery all around.


Next we left for Shiratekdi village to see the Caring Friends sponsored NREGA project which has been running since December 2014. The villagers greeted us with a musical welcome with drum-beats from a gigantic drum and lively tunes from flutes. A community kitchen had been setup under some trees and CF has been sponsoring the community lunch for the workers and their families, so that the women don’t have to worry about preparing a midday meal on top of labouring away in the fields. Nearly 100 men and women from the Adivasi Kolam tribes were involved in digging bunds all along their fields, to prevent the rainwater from being washed away during the monsoons, thus allowing penetration of rainwater to create a good water-table. 200 villagers would be employed till June, with a guaranteed work of 20 days a month and given wages of Rs 200 per day through Caring Friends. Thus a healthy earning of Rs 4000 per month would help each family survive through this drought-infested countryside and have enough savings to buy seeds and equipment to prepare their fields and plant new crops before the monsoons.

We served lunch to the men, women and children first, before joining them for a simple but delicious lunch of nutritious Dal

with Palak and other vegetables, rice, Kairee (raw mango) pickle and Tomato curry. The weather was quite pleasant with a good breeze blowing and we enjoyed sitting in the fields directly under the sun even at 3:30pm and enjoyed our meal with the villagers.

Later the five of us ladies sat down with the women-folk to understand more about their families and their day-to-day life and asked them a number of questions about health and hygiene, family planning, education and nutrition. Vijaya’s inputs were very helpful as she gave real-life examples of how a simple intervention of growing Palak in front of their houses had led to

improvement in haemoglobin levels within a year. Bharatiben also gave some easy tips on controlling diarrhoea through simple home remedies and Preeti spoke about other aspects of women’s health and how they should burn their litter and not dump it near streams, which could be harmful to others.

Nimeshbhai was discussing problems with men. We came to know that over there money lenders charge exorbitant interest which goes up to 50% or even 100%.They were very pleased that they could pay back the loan including interest because of earnings from CF NREGA work.They promised not to take money from these money lenders. They have decided to start their own SHG Group.

The result was so good because of the hard work of Team Dilasa. When we left everyone was full of positive energy & praises for the Vision of Caring Friends & Dilasa. These efforts will give much better crop in the year to come.


Next we visited one of DILASA’s sites where DILASA had undertaken desilting of a stream and revived the Dohas or natural pits in the river beds. There was a Bund built by DILASA team every 500 mtrs along the 2Km stream stretch which was again a cheaper method to break the flow of water as compared to cement check dams. We also saw a recharge well they had built next to the stream which was filled with quite a lot of ground-water even in this season. Next stop was seeing the innovative way devised by Mansoorbhai to bring water to the fields by tapping into the underground seepage water near a stream and channelling the water through pipes and brought to the farms. This simple technique which needs no electricity to divert the water and was simply ‘powered’ by gravity is known as the Phad Irrigation System. A farmer who was working in his field demonstrated to us how he could open the water outlet in his field to irrigate a vast area around the outlet. Several farmers share this Phad pipeline and have such outlets in their own adjoining fields and they take turns to open their outlet and irrigate their own field once a week.

After a long tiring day we went back to DILASA’s centre late evening and enjoyed a sumptuous meal of Bhakri with tasty vegetables and Shrikhand.

The day was not yet done; we had a performance in store for us where a trio of village musicians called Gondhalis belted out their rustic folk songs. This was a performance by an old grandfather, his son and grandson and it was impressive to note their stamina and vocal prowess as they simultaneously played their drums and sang their songs.

Day 2: 21st March 2015

It was Gudi Padwa and thanks to Madhukar ji and Mansoor Bhai, our day began with a tree plantation. The five of us together planted a Banyan tree, and each one of us planted one tree individually. I planted an Umber tree and this tree is used as fodder for cattle and birds love fruits of this tree. Me being an animal lover, they wanted me to plant this tree. With trees all around, cows, calves & rabbits; there was nothing more I could ask for. I was completely in love with Dilasa Centre. But then it was time to leave the Centre and move towards our next destination.    

On our way, we had breakfast at Madhukarji’s house where we met Mr. Ranjit Bobade of Vikas Ganga. He shared his personal life story, his struggles, his fight for the farmer’s rights, their upliftment and so on. Truly inspiring!

We then proceeded to other village where SHG is manufacturing Sulabh Sanitary Napkins made from biodegradable material. They had different machines to complete the process. They were given special training to operate these machines. The cost of these machines are Rs.2,50,000+raw material Rs.50,000+training cost Rs.13,000=Rs.3,13,000.Their cost for 1 packet of 8 napkins is Rs.30.They sell to villagers at Rs.20.This is a very useful project as women get work, they can understand business  & they can have better hygiene.

Then we saw Mansoorbhai’s work of water management again. They are working hard to conserve water, distribute water properly

by different methods. People around looks very happy with these facilities.

Then we had a Gaon ka khana under the big tree. Lunch was very tasty. We had baigan bharta, bhakhari, salad, palakh dal & rice. Very satisfying lunch which was served with love.

Then with heavy heart we had to leave the company of Madhukar & Vijaya. While travelling we heard their life journey, Mansoorbhai’s story. We learnt a lot about everyone’s work, daring, helping nature & love towards people.

At Amravati, we met Dr. Avinash Saoji of Prayas. We visited his newly built around 10000 sq. Ft. 3 storied Prayas Centre which has a library, huge halls and rooms for hostel facilities .


He conducts varied kind of training programs for students. In his new building he can accommodate 1000 students at a time. For residential workshops also he can have 100 students. Dr.Saoji believes in nutritious diet, exercise & yoga.

Dr. Avinash Saoji too shared his life-story with us. “In the beginning, I did not know what I wanted, but I knew what I did not want”, he said.  He knew he would never live in big cities, he knew he would never work for money. Knowing what he did not want, led him to understand what he truly wanted; which was reaching out to the most marginalized communities. Like Dr. Anil Patel, he too has been working for the poor and under-privileged. It was amazing to hear him say that “this huge Prayas centre just happened effortlessly”. It just reassured the belief that when you are on the right path, everything just falls in place somehow. At Prayas Centre, we also met one of his visitors who was advised for an immediate bypass surgery 6 years back. However after consulting Dr. Saoji, he chose to not go for the surgery and instead religiously follow Dr. Saoji’s recommended diet plan. Today he is fit and fine without having to undergo the surgery. It was wonderful to meet Dr. Saoji and see the amazing impact he has left on the lives of so many.

 That was the end of our enriching and activity-packed trip and we boarded the train that evening for our overnight journey to Mumbai. We would like to go to many more trips like this in future. Commendable work done and very touched to see that we have to reach out to people for basic necessities. Trip's one part l would like to share was the meeting we ladies had with the village women discussing hygiene..birth control.. Education. Though shy in interacting at the beginning, they opened up and we had good conversation with Madhukar' s wife Vijaya being our mediator.Many thanks to Madhukar, Vijaya, Sujal, Mansoorbhai and ofcourse to Nimeshbhai for planning this trip so well, showing us so many projects and introducing us to so many good people!

 Truly a memorable soul trip or I’d rather say a soulful trip!  

 -      Bharatiben, Sonia, Preeti, Moumita