Serve an Hour!

What is Serve an Hour?

Serve an Hour (SaH) is an initiative taken by our college at Amritapuri, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham to devote at least an hour of service to the ones in need and to understand and to try solve the problems they face. It is a part of our curriculum, and this year’s (2018-19) theme is Water. The main aim of this initiative is to give exposure to students to actual problem solving at the ground level. It starts with identifying a main problem (could be water, or waste management, etc.) , discussing it with the villagers and then coming up or implementing a solution.

In my personal opinion, this is no more than a golden opportunity for students to actually contribute to the society by helping solve their problems. Our college education is not just completing assignments or writing tests or writing some code, it is also gaining the skills required to understand the basic problems that people face and that is exactly what Amrita is providing us with, which personally, I cannot be thankful enough for.

What do we do in SaH?

Today, we, in a group of 6 were taken to a nearby village, Pandarathurtu, Allapad (Ward No. 14) [on map] where a Jivamritam filtration system had been set up .

What is Jivamritam?

“Jivamritam” , is a charitable initiative taken up by the MAM (Mata Amritanandamayi Math) which aims to provide filtration for clean drinking water to one crore villagers across India. The project was inaugurated by the Hon. President, Ram Nath Kovind in 2017 in Amma’s presence.

At a projected cost of Rs.100 crores, the initial phase of the project aims to install 5,000 Jivamritam Filtration Systems throughout the nation. The filtration system is completely designed by the students and faculty of the Amrita University.

“The Jivamritam System avails of a dual sand-and-activated-carbon filter to remove suspended particles and turbidity, followed by micron filters of five-micron and one-micron filtration.

Each system also includes an ultraviolet water-purifier to remove pathogenic contamination, and two storage tanks — 2,000-litre-inlet and a 1,000-litre outlet — to keep treated and untreated water separate. The filtered-water tanks are integrated with taps to provide drinking water at the location of the system itself.”

– Dr. Maneesha Sudheer, Project Head, Amrita University

At the village we visited, the Jivamritam system looked like this :

The tank on the right is the inlet tank and the one on the left is the outlet one with the filtration system in the middle.

As you might observe the facility hasn’t been used for a long time and that is exactly what we have to deal with. People were not using the filter where the water they get is known to be turbid and unclean. Weird.

The next stop was a house in one of the neighborhood, where people, mostly women, for had gathered from the nearby houses in Pandarathurthu for the meeting.

The meeting went well, in brief, we talked about:

  • The Jivamritam facility and about the one installed in their vicinity. It looked like the people didn’t fully know about it, the awareness simply wasn’t there. They had assumed the facility to be part of the temple (which was okay to think since the facility had been installed within temple grounds due to land-permission problems) in which the facility was housed in.
  • The problems they faced during floods. Water was scarcely available and polluted.
  • The distance factor. The facility was installed a not-so-convenient distance but was yet not too far off.

The experience was great, to know that we had something to do in a project as big and ambitious and impactful as Jivamritam, is a great feeling. Keenly looking forward to grab another such opportunity in the near future.

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© 2021, Akhil