I know, I know. The idea of me doing any kind of manual labor is funny to you. Heck, it’s funny to me! I’ll be honest; the idea of coming to Sadhana Forest was all Carrie’s. She did the research, put in the time and decided that it was the best place in India to volunteer. It just didn’t seem like my thing, but I figured I would give it a shot anywhere. If it was terrible, I could always leave.
My love affair with Sadhana Forest began during the very first work when I discovered bunding. The concept is simple: take soil and create dams to divert the flow of rainwater (or monsoon water, as is the case in Sadhana) into dug out holes. Once in the holes, the water can not damage the communal area and can seep into the ground and refill the underground reservoir that flows under the land.
While many of these bunds are in fields somewhere, others double as the main walking paths in Sadhana Forest. My job was to take the dirt from people digging in a hole, spread it out across paths and compact it down by foot or with a heavy pounding tool. It was a good workout and, surprisingly, tons of fun. I quickly adopted bunding as my permanent first work activity and even found myself missing it over the weekend when there was no first work.
I realized the reason I liked it so much was because at the end of every two hour period I could see defined progress. A path being built is much easier to guide from start to finish than the growth of a tree. In fact, I became so attached to the project that I was even put in charge of managing it after the previous leader left Sadhana.
While I spent all of my first works doing bunding, my activities varied a lot during second work. A complete list is as follows: I cooked lunch multiple times, sprayed nicotine on leaves to kill mold, transported baby trees across the compound to a new tree nursery, cleaned the main hut, poked holes in bottles for use in irrigation, rode a stationary bike during a rain storm to create electricity, washed bed sheets, painted signs, rotated solar panels and used mud to create walls around trees to stop rainwater from damaging them.