Friday, November 27, 2009
Final report on Setrawa and the Sambhali project
After five weeks working with the beautiful girls and women of Setrawa village I am filled with so many emotions. Our time in village has been so special and slightly challenging. The girls and women, though especially the girls were so welcoming and by our second week there we were being lavished the hugs and kind words. From 11 to 1 each day we would go to the school and work on handicrafts with the women and girls who did not attend school. During this time I feel that they taught me more than I taught them. I learned to embroider and made a beautiful skirt, and more importantly I learned the beauty of sitting and enjoying some good company and music over simple creative work. There is no need to rush about or be concerned with what is happening tomorrow or in a week or month, it is time to just be present. Rajasthani and I am sure all Indian women are innately creative and it is remarkable the stuff that they can come up with, with the greatest ease. Unfortunately there are very few women coming to these sessions and it would be wonderful if there was a proper class or project that they could work on together to draw more in.
In the evenings we would return to the school and teach the school going girls English. Ever eager and excited to learn this was a very interesting experience for me after teaching in South Korea for a year. Unlike in Korea the children here have ample time to play and actually don’t often get a proper education when they are at school. So the girls were ever so happy to sit and read, write and do a very different style of lessons than I taught in Korea. But as little girls they do still love to play games and we definitely did play many, though their attention was much hard to maintain and they were not as well mannered when not seated and writing. We chose to teach a different topic each week, as we had a short time in Setrawa. Our first week was spent getting to know them and doing introduction games and activities, our second week focused around team work and unity, our third week focused on health and the body, our fourth week dealt with dreams and our final week was spent wrapping things up creating a photo collage and having a goodbye party.
The rest of our time was spent mainly at Usha’s home or going to neighbour’s homes for meals. The food in Setrawa is amazing, all vegetarian and super healthy and basic and if you like spicy like I do it is heaven. As it is very hot and sunny in the afternoon usually we would stay inside and read, write, play with the little kids or rest. The end of our second week and our third week Usha went to visit her pregnant sister and we were left to our own devices more or less as Usha’s family doesn’t speak a lot of English which made things a little more challenging and interesting.
Our time in Setrawa was amazing and I will remember it forever, but some things could be improved. It became evident to me while Usha was away and in trying to prepare lessons and determine what the girls already knew, that the project is in need of a proper teacher or administrator. Usha is a great asset and has the trust and respect of the girls and women but as she will be married off one of these days and will leave the village, I think it would be useful to have a full time permanent teacher to administrate and make sure lessons grow on each other and expand the girl’s knowledge. Also in our last week there was a serious problem with Usha’s father who after returning to the village on the weekend began drinking heavily and refusing to allow Usha to return to the school. This problem continued to grow throughout the week and turned into some very angry and painful screaming matches between Usha’s father and the family. There was a great deal of pain and grief in the house and my heart goes out to her family. I would say that I still enjoyed staying with Usha’s family a great deal and think it is very unfortunate that this had to happen in our last week. I do not mean to write this to discourage any volunteers from coming to Setrawa it is an amazing place and anyone will be greatly rewarded for going, but something should be done to prevent continued incidents.
My love and thanks go out to all involved at Sambhali; Govind and Mokta, Usha and her family, Ramu and Mulsingh and all the beautiful girls and women of Setrawa and all the awesome staff at Durag Niwas.