Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sambhali, June Ending!

Some reports and introduction from our current volunteers and some news!

Ahsan Dharani

Sambhali Trust


First Impression Report

June 5th to July 31st

I came to India two weeks ago as a Non-Resident Indian from Singapore, with the hope of reconnecting myself with the culture of my forefathers. My first experience at the Guest House was dinner with Govind and some other volunteers. I must say that the food that night was rather excellent and Govind and his family's hospitality had only increased my excitement to work in Sambhali Trust. The first day of work involved meeting the girls and an overview of what was expected of me during my tenure at the organization. I was told that I would be required to work on the proposal for a microfinance project in Setrawa, a village some 100 kilometers away from Jodhpur. Since that day, I have routinely met up with the girls at the school up stairs and helped out with classes, along with having my lunch with them, and have worked on the proposal with two other volunteers.

I has been an interesting first week, having met many people in the microfinance industry, and also the other guests and volunteers staying at the guest house. The weather has been crazy; the heat, the sandstorms, and the rain following the sandstorms have made this trip all the more riveting. I look forward to conducting a class of my own with the girls, and finishing this proposal to the best of my ability.

Ms. Ibtissam
arrival 7th June
Departure 22 June

First Impression:

I was in Uttarakhand, volunteering for an organization when I found out about the Sambhali Trust organization. I was immediately very interested in knowing more about the work made by Sambhali.

I called Govinder Singh Rathore and we talked a little bit about Sambhali and about the way I could take part to this wonderful project. Govinder sounded so passionate and so lovely, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to reach Jodhpur and get started.

When I arrived, my first impression was beyond any expectation I had. The work performed by Sambhali is really impressive. And the girls are absolutely fantastic. They are lively, sweet, curious and smart : working with them is a real pleasure, and actually lots of funs. We speak, laugh, eat, and learn together, I really feel that there is an exchange between me and them. Through our English classes or our improvised dancing sessions, I feel that they learn from me just as much as I learn from them, and that makes me happy. I wish I could spend even more time with them.

Final Impression:

After two wonderful yet too short weeks with Sambhali, I am on my way to Delhi before flying back to Paris in a week.I have loved every single moment I spent with the girls, chatting away, sharing lunch, teaching English or even dancing during their “play time”.It is actually difficult to leave them now, as I started to get very close to them.When coming I wasn’t sure my presence will be very helpful as I was staying for a very short time, but I received good feedback from the girls who after just a couple of weeks managed to learn some things, clarify some issues they had with the English tenses for instance, or just felt more comfortable speaking the language. So I feel now that even if it is not much, it actually helped some of these girls.They appreciated the efforts I have put in my classes and they even learned some things: I couldn’t ask for more.Therefore, I would encourage anyone to contribute in their own way, even though it seems to be just a little, all these initiatives put together can make a difference

I also had a great time with Govind’s family and crew at Durag Niwas. Everyone has been so lovely and helpful, and made my stay and my whole experience even better. Through them, I discovered the beauty of the Rajput culture and their hospitality.When I planned my trip to India, I had no clue I would end up in Jodhpur, Rajasthan to spend some time with Sambhali. I feel really grateful that I found out about this organization and that Govind gave me the opportunity to be part of it for some time. I will never forget what I have experienced here with Mukta, Govind and The Sambhali girls, and I really hope I can come back someday.

Surabhi Agrawal

June 5- July 31


Having always lived in the city, I was excited to work with the Sambhali Trust on the Setrawa Project and experience village life. The organization aims to work with issues concerning women’s empowerment and education for the young girls. However, no amount of prior reading prepared me for my first visit to the village. Before arriving, I was told that the girls were looking forward to meeting me, especially because I spoke Hindi. When I first arrived at the school with six other interns from the Foundation for Sustainable Development, I saw the girls peeking through the gaps in the fence and the women watching me from their veils. They looked around shyly as they greeted us with a Marwari song concerning the importance of education.

Soon they were asked to show us around the village and then I was overwhelmed as all the girls crowded around me, thrilled at the opportunity. They held my hands, told me their names, pointed their homes along the way, took me to the local temple and broadly grinned as we took pictures. As I talked to them that afternoon, I started learning about the beauty, innocence and eagerness that filled these girls. As I returned to Jodhpur that day, I became nervous as I realized I would be teaching these forty girls for the next two months even though I had no previous experience in teaching.

Three days later, I left with Govindji, the founder of Sambhali, to Setrawa and spend my first week there. I was very excited about sleeping on the roof, as the rooms are not friendly to the hot summer months. Each morning I was awaken by the sound of the peacocks as the sun gradually reached my side on the roof. The week started with Usha, the current teacher, and I shifting the school to a new location. All the girls helped with the setting of the new school and in just two days we were ready to begin our first lesson. After some review of what they knew, the girls were ready for me to give them a test. I was awed by their willingness and determination to learn and the sincerity with which they came to class.

As I stayed in the village for the week, I started learning from the other families about the situations in the village. Sambhali wants to begin a microfinance project in Setrawa and I am looking forward to conducting interviews for the women who want to be part of this effort. Additionally, I am looking towards developing a more sustainable project in the village dealing with smokeless stoves and solar energy. The ideas for these projects came as I visited families for dinner and watched them cook in kitchens that filled with smoke as the wood burned in open air. Also, often times the power in the school would go out during the day and it would be difficult teaching a classroom full of girls without a working fan in the desert heat. I am excited about further researching these projects, assessing their need and capacity to function in the village, and most of all working with the girls in the upcoming months.

Ms. Karen Fan
13th of June- 13th of August

First Impression:

It’s been almost a week since I have arrived in India, and I am still in astonishment and disbelief to actually be here. While India was almost everything I expected it to be – the colorful markets, the beautiful forts and temples, the busy streets, the archaic buildings – being here is almost surreal. I don’t think I fully grasped the fact that I was in India until I saw cows roaming the streets and rickshaw drivers were calling at me every few minutes for a ride. While arriving here was indeed a culture shock for me, I am slowly adjusting and nevertheless curious to learn more about this country.

My two-month visit here in India will entail volunteer work with Sambhali Trust, which has made a wonderful impression on me so far. When I arrived at the Durag Niwas guesthouse where Sambhali Trust conducts its work, Govind and his wife, Mukta, warmly welcomed me. Mukta marked my head with a traditional bindi and adorned my neck with flowers. Afterwards, Govind showed me to his office, where we discussed the details of what Sambhali Trust does and what I could contribute. Hearing him passionately talk about his organization and what they do for the Harijan women reminded me what attracted me to this organization. At the end of the meeting, we decided that I would be working on a microfinance proposal for the Sherni Project and teaching English to the girls – a plan that I am excited to be a part of.

The last few days, I have already begun to develop a daily work routine. In the mornings, I work on the microfinance proposal for the Sherni Project. Another volunteer and I are now are currently finishing up a needs assessment survey for the prospective Sherni Project candidates. In the afternoons, I eat lunch with the girls and spend time with them. They are all friendly and amiable girls as I have spoken, laughed, and danced with them. Next week, I will begin teaching them English, which I am looking forward to.

Few days ago a cat with two kittens made our home their home, one night i could not sleep and it was about 4.00am and i saw them in the little garden outside our home, I took some nice pictures( well not as good as national geography ;) but i hope you like them.

Due to sickness of Mumy and grand ma, and less tourist we made a little prayer ceremony for 5 days, the last day of the prayer the whole family sat together and thanked god for everything that we have been given.
one Stormy night ,after the sand storms crossed our city, proceeding toward Udaipur, i came out with the camera to catch it going, it was beautiful.

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