Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 2008 - Wedding in the family and Setrawa report

Dear Readers,
Recently the sand storms have become stronger, clouds everyday. Little or no rain some times. Succeeded in making some pictures that i would like to share with you.
Grand ma is back from hospital, she has no cancer, we are soo thankful to god, she has some fungal breathing problem, with the time and medicine it shall be Okay or a little operation for lungs. Mumy is doing well, very lazy due to heat, mukta is busy looking after the older ladies of the family, ayush is enjoying his summer vacations, as you can see below that Shakti is doing all right.
My first cousin next door to us (my father's elder brother's son) got engaged few days back some pics after the ceremony.(my cousine in yellow turban)
Shakti and Myself

My cousine's name is Bhanu Pratap singh, he will get married on the 17th of June, we (as grooms party) will go to 450 kilometer, some where near Jaipur to bring the bride.

My Aunty and Myself on the way back from Udaipur few weeks backGuest House:
All the rooms have coolers this year but no tourists at all. i have removed all the trimmings etc (decorations) it looks empty but who ever has come has liked it the way it is. In July i will redecorate the house.

MS. Hajin has left for America; the annual report will be attached to this post. Girls are enjoying the karate class; the graduates are working hard learning the stitching. The newer batch is learning embroideries and adjusting with the older and semi older batches. Just few weeks before the elections of Member of Parliament (M.P), Jodhpur His Highness’s sister Baijilal CHandresh Kumari Ji was fighting for MP, she came to our street for addressing the shepherd community people, on this occasion, our sambhali girls went and garlanded her and His Highness Jodhpur, presented her some Sambhali Documents and wished her luck for winning, she won with maximum votes and is representing western Rajasthan in Parliament of India. This June we have some new interns coming through FSD organization. One of the interns Ms.Saurabhi Agarwal for Setrawa project and Mr.Dharani for the Jodhpur project.

Narega Femine Relief program by government on the way to Setrawa in a village

Setrawa Project participants poster on the wall at the school

Final Impression from Ms. Hajin Jun

It is hard to believe that my three weeks at Sambhali Trust have drawn to a close. It has been an incredible journey, challenging many times, but transformative all the same.
I can see very clearly the trajectory of change both for me and my students. My first lesson was not exactly the epitome of pedagogical finesse, with my over-ambitious, unrealistic lesson plan, my lack of preparation for the difficulties posed by teaching with a language barrier, and my sense of frustration and anxiety when things didn’t go as I planned. I think I’ve come a long way since then. I have learned to take things as they come and realized that rarely anything goes exactly to plan. In fact, the lessons that didn’t go as planned became opportunities to interact with my students, learn bits of Hindi (I still cause fits of giggles with my Hindi) and of Indian culture. I have also realized that it was wrong of me to recreate my experience learning art to here. It was really quite ignorant and pretentious of me to think that I could introduce Western style of art in the Western way in which it is taught. I am indeed in India, and it is I who should adapt, not the other way around. Most of all, I wrongly underestimated my students’ desire to learn to draw as well as their potential to develop their skills in such a short amount of time. Some students came and went, but for those who stayed in the class, I can see definitive growth in their skills. Even if they are not yet at the level of accurately translating what they see to paper (which requires much time, practice and patience), they have begun to critically analyze what they see. Moreover, the lessons which were able to be translated into Hindi have greatly improved the girls’ drawing skills (ex. self-portraits and perspective). In addition, what brings me most joy as a novice teacher is when the girls work on pieces at their homes on their own initiatives and bring them excitedly to class to show me. The drawings in colored pencil that Roshni has done are very promising, and the designs the girls draw are really quite exquisite. I would not be able to do what they do with designs. As for my lofty initial goals of helping girls produce beauty and see beauty in themselves, they are perhaps too personal and subtle of changes for me to evaluate over so short a span of time. I do, however, see small victories. For instance, there is one student in my class named Reika who is painfully shy. According to Tamanna, the sewing teacher, she had never heard Reika speak. In the beginning, Reika also had the habit of erasing many of her drawings and waiting for me to come over and help. Now, she leaves her work unerased, calls me over to show me her work, and I am sometimes even successful in persuading her to smile for the camera. One of my goals for volunteering for Sambhali Trust had been to learn how a grass-roots NGO operates day-to-day and meets the needs facing its community. The most important thing I have realized is the importance of working within the local context and having a deep cultural awareness and understanding. For instance, in the beginning of my volunteering experience, I found myself getting frustrated with the sporadic and unpredictable internet access, the lack of an office or a desk to work on and what is affectionately (or exasperatedly) referred to as Indian time. I look back and reflect how silly those frustrations were, and that Sambhali functions and thrives even in spite of those things. What I consider necessary for my optimal productivity doesn’t necessarily translate here, nor does it have to. If I ever work for an international NGO I will keep this lesson in mind. In addition, while working on the report for the Sherni Project, I had to modify many of the principles of microfinance I learned to work in a setting like Setrawa. It is so important to keep projects local, and develop close local contacts. While there are areas in which Sambhali Trust can grow and improve, I continue to be impressed with its passion and commitment to change the lives of marginalized girls. Because of Sambhali’s work helping girls develop self-esteem and confidence, one would never imagine just how far they’ve come, what kind of pain and challenges they’ve had to overcome. Every student here has a story, a story becoming more hopeful and triumphant with the support of this organization. Perhaps what is so bold about what the Trust does is its staunch refusal to define the girls as society does. One isn’t merely a Dalit, an unwanted daughter, a child of a sex worker. Each student here is an individual endowed with unbounded potential and a right to a full and happy life.

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