Sunday, May 03, 2009

3rd May 2009 - Sambhali news and new ideas

A few things happened this beginning of May that I would like to share with you as pictures and personal thoughts.
Literacy project:- Children from the Literacy project have to be sent to school again this year, did not find enough sponsors. I must congratulate all who sponsored our kids last year because they have all passed their final examinations with good numbers. We will change Bharati for a better school near her home if possible, most probably in the same school where my son Ayush goes to.
Bharati has come first in her class and has been given a certificate for her achievement from the school.

Jodhpur Project:- Ms. Eliane left after volunteering with us for three months.

Ms. Adriana left from Setrawa project after volunteering with us for a month (our first volunteer to live with a local family [host family] in the village). It is getting hotter day by day, Setrawa village project has one month off and will restart again from the 1st of June.
In Jodhpur we have a new volunteer, Ms. Becky Moyce, who is doing a photography workshop and also taking care of the new workshop related to the Dalit boys and Dalit women sex workers.
Some thoughts I would like to share with you:

Working with Dalit sex workers and idea for LGBT(lesbian,Gay,Bisexual and transgenders) people
Sambhali Trust has wide aims and objectives, but looking at the need of people around us, we are working on 3 projects right now:
1) Empowerment of Dalit women in Jodhpur
2) Setrawa village project
3) Literacy project (both in Jodhpur and Setrawa village)
For more information on AIMS of Sambhali Trust please check our website.
One day Smita, a friend of mine, and I went to a fair in Jodhpur, here we were just walking around, doing some shopping and then Smita remembered of coming in this area before to meet some female sex workers. Smita is working with some organization dealing with sex workers, these people are Dalit and they are the care takers of crematoriums situated in this area (this area is cremation site for many communities). I was horrified with this fact because I am scared of both death and sickness.
But I was pleased to hear that some other NGO is working with them on issues related to sex, health and hygiene. There were condom boxes outside the women’s homes where people could take condoms for free (I have heard of such boxes but have never seen one).

I have been to this area two times before on the cremation ceremony of both my father and grand father. I was not very comfortable emotionally because I was missing them both very much and here I saw my father and grand father for the last time, but I had to visit this fair before it disappears in a few years time.
The Kaga (Sheetla Mata Fair) is one of the very interesting, oriental fairs remaining of developing Jodhpur today (some special ceremonial days of the fair is not friendly towards foreign visitors or women).
I always had one soft corner in my heart to work with the people who are forced into sex working or people related to GLBT, especially in places like Jodhpur (conservative) these communities have very difficult lives and there is no one who wants to hear them, understand them or wants to know them. I always wondered if I could help them create a network where they can speak about themselves, their problems, the difficulties they face in everyday’s life and that they are not alone, there are many who face such problems like them in their daily life and so all with the same problems could stand up together. I had one problem that I don’t want to make our projects bigger which then leads out of control and we are also very limited to resources. Right now we are working on and cannot stop the Literacy project, Jodhpur Empowerment of women from the Dalit community project and Setrawa village project, but I somehow figured out that without much of a problem and spending resources we could still conduct some interesting workshops with the help of our volunteers for the Dalit women sex workers and maybe the GLBT people in Jodhpur related to HIV/AIDS and Self-Esteem.
I have been in a meeting this week on the 30th of April, where Ms. Becky Moyce, Tamannah and I went to the sex workers' home and met with some of the women there and our meeting turned into that we take some of their daughters (Dalit) into the Jodhpur empowerment project. They don’t want their daughters to come into the same trade and some even wanted to send them to boarding schools. I spoke to Veerni project in Jodhpur who take girls for boarding (free), they said they give priority to girls from villages, so we had to cancel the idea of boarding school but I said the Sambhali doors are open for them and they can come for the sewing class and the other workshops we do for the girls in the project. This would help them build up their self-esteem, they can become united and can develop their independence.
The women wanted their sons to come to the photography workshop and therefore some are attending the workshop and are taking much interest in their personality development. I hope I will be able to do something for these women or members of their families.
I will also try and conduct a workshop on HIV/AIDS for the GLBT people sometimes this month and I would like to keep a meeting for them once a month if possible, where they can come and talk about themselves and discuss their problems.
Please wish me luck for the two programs that Sambhali can provide now and then to these people in need at safe, clean and secure workshops.
Working with the Dalit boys
(brothers/sons of the Jodhpur project participants and the sons of the Dalit sex workers
While working with the women and girls from the empowerment project in Jodhpur for some time now, I was always wondering about the men in their families. I thought with a little effort we could do a little difference in their lives and having in my mind that any tiny drop leaves stain, therefore I thought by finding out a way to approach these men by doing a little workshop we could make some change.
Men in the Dalit community should know what we are, what we do and the safe environment that we provide to their mothers, sisters and daughters.

Whenever I came across women with issue, most of it involved their men, whether they were sons, brothers or fathers, and I was always requested to go and speak to the men creating troubles. It was these men who would stop sending the girls to the project, scared of us, thinking of what we were teaching that was making girls strong inside outside. One application came from Ms. Becky Moyce from the UK to volunteer with us, where she wanted to conduct photography lessons for our girls and also by handing out cameras, so that the girls could build their self esteem by making pictures they wanted. I thought this could be something that the family men of our Jodhpur project participants would like to do also. I asked the Jodhpur project participants that from the 27th of April we will conduct a photography workshop for boys related to them from 6.00pm till 7.00pm. We have about 21 boys now, Meera’s sons, Saraswati’s sons, Monica’s brother and so on.
We have in between decided to take workshops related to HIV/AIDS (none of them knew what it was), and Dalit rights (none of them knew some rights for Dalit people existed).
The photography workshop has been quite a success, we have given a lot of other information to these boys on sex/health/basic general knowledge for day to day life. I was told by one of them that most of these boys cannot believe some information, such as we gave, related to life existed or if someone will ever talk to them about it. We were able to bring the boys out of the many myths they had related to health, hygiene and sexual behaviors.
The workshop for the boys will last till 18th of May when we will do an exhibition and display pictures taken by boys and girls who participated in the photography workshop of Ms. Moyce. We will also prize the best male and female photographer of Sambhali.
Our Sambhali workshop boys' age range from 14 to 23 years and none of them go to school, some have a little or no education, all work for living.
I asked them to bring me a letter, one page each, to give me background on their life, it is shocking, sad and unbelievable what they went and go through.

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