Woodpecking our way to social change in Champawat | Milaap
Woodpecking our way to social change in Champawat
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    from Champawat, Uttarakhand

Preparing the next Grassroot Leaders

RukhThokko has now been live for 40 days. Our fellows have been learning and practicing English and Computer. They have also been learning how to do primary and secondary research, practice working in an organization and are ready to do field work. The funds we have raised so far are almost used up. We need to raise the remaining funds soon in order to keep running the programme.

We are raising a fund of INR2,60,000 to train twelve rural young adults (ages 18+), in skills that youth from the city have easy access to like working with computers, conversational English, Communication, Collaboration, Research, Teamwork and more by engaging in activities dealing with social issues.  ‘Rukh Thokko’ (meaning woodpecker in kumaoni language) is an in-person 3 month programme that aims to help participants evolve a personal work ethic and facilitate a deeper understanding of social issues affecting society in Champawat. The program is led by HaiJalo, a community organization that has worked in the Champawat district for the past year towards promoting community service and local action for local issues.

At the completion of our program, all sponsors will receive a detailed report of the program with outcomes and testimonials from the youth participating in the program. For details, you can email us at haijalo.bal@gmail.com  .

Budget Breakdown for the 3 month programme                Total : Rs.260,000

Stipend for Participants                                     Rs. 144,000
Computer & English Classes    
Social Activities                                                   Rs. 36,000
External Facilitator costs                                   Rs. 42,000
Mobilisation                                                         Rs. 20,000
Contingency                                                        Rs. 18,000



Growing up in a metropolitan city, I have had access to academic and educational exposure that I didn't even know was a luxury. It was on arriving to Champawat for my internship at a community group called HaiJalo that I realised the unfair advantage this basic training gives me over youth in a small Himalayan town. The corporate world is not going to consider this difference in our upbringings while conducting interviews and giving us jobs. I want to help transform the career prospects of 12 young people from Champawat through a programme that teaches key work skills through social internships. We’re calling it ‘RukhThokko’, which is the Kumaoni word for ‘woodpecker’ [since community development can feel like knocking your head against a tree at times, but the strong persevere :)]

A student’s all round development is not given importance in the education system here. Schools follow a very ‘marks oriented’ way of teaching. Neither parents nor teachers, who are also from the same background, care if the student is actually learning and understanding the curriculum, becoming an active and aware citizen, or a compassionate human being. In our city schools, we also play sports, learn art and craft, team- building, problem solving, skills like elocution, critical thinking through debates, external reading and writing,. These increase our confidence and help us express ourselves. Curiosity is a quality that is cultivated and encouraged in us. Most city schools are very strict about teachers not raising their hands on children. We see action being taken against teachers for any physical or verbal mistreatment of students. I grew up with the ability to question things around me and hold authorities responsible for their actions. And my friends and I grew up speaking and learning English because of our teachers and peers. We all know that English is an essential career skill.

Things are not like this in Champawat. By example of parents, the kids learn to take what is given to them and not question the loopholes in the quality of education, or any other thing for that matter. Questioning authority is seen as disrespectful. And all of these problems are intensified for female students or those from  underprivileged backgrounds.

With RukhThokko, participants will take a 3 month social internship by the horns. They will dissect social issues, study them in the local context and plan activities to address them, raise awareness and interact with important authorities. We will also provide them with essential english and computer lessons. I helped draw up this list of work skills and attributes of a healthy work ethic. Imagine the transformation you can bring to this town by donating towards our project!! RukhThokkos will be those aware, well- rounded citizens who can take their learnings forward to their own villages and communities.


Sr No





Total Amount


Stipend for interns

12 interns


3 months



Computer Classes

12 Interns


3 months



English Classes

12 Interns


3 months



Social Activities (Travel, Material, Miscellaneous)

6 activities


3 months



Coordinator fees

1 Coordinator


3 months



Asst. Coordinators

2 Asst. Coordinators


3 months



Mobilisation Expenses (Travel & Materials for Mobilisation sessions)

20 Panchayats






3 months


Grand total


Read more about my experiences in Champawat:

About HaiJalo

HaiJalo is a volunteer and community action group in Champawat. HaiJalo is a Pahadi phrase meaning ‘It shall happen’. We are taking steps to resolve local societal and environmental issues while shaping the world around us through kindness, understanding, and the power of volunteering. Our other projects include Pahadi Khiladi which will be a community sports centre, awareness and action on waste management and menstrual health and hygiene. 
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