Wednesday, August 19, 2009

19th of August 2009

Sambhali Trust:
Sadly the graduates left finally, i am happy and sad at the same time, happy that they are having their own sewing centers, where they can make some living and help like Ms. Corinne has come to help us with giving some business to the sewing centers and keep an eye on the quality control and above all to manage and run the Sambhali India Shop.
Graduates have their own sewing centers, I hope you like the pictures from them at work for their new life.The Sambhali Graduates 2006-2009
Prithvipura branch of the Sewing center of the graduates
Raikabagh Branch of the sewing center of the graduates
Graduates for their last day at Sambhali, writting messages on the white boards from their time with us.
Ms.Tammana, our Jodhpur project teacher, inaugurating the sewing center,
Ms.Corinne Rose, Ms.Tammana and the Graduates

Ms.Nirmala with her certificate
Ms.Soniya with her certificate
Ms.Saraswati with her certificate
Ms.Savita with her certificate of Sambhali Trust
Happy Graduates! 2006-2009Two Street Actors!


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First Impression Report from Ms.Jessica Robinson:

The Duras Niwag guest house is by far the most peaceful place I have encountered in India so far. I enquired about volunteering with Sambhali Trust mere days before arriving in India as a young solo traveler and was not expecting to have any kind of structured experience – helping out with English teaching was all I had imagined to be doing. I was just in time, however, to assist with a Service Learning Trip with the Foundation for Sustainable Development, documenting their development project in Setrawa. For the next month I will be spending time between Jodhpur and Setrawa, preparing reports on the proceedings so that Sambhali Trust has a record of the outcomes of the trip. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of hands-on development work and I anticipate that it will spark a life-long passion.

Having never been to an Indian village, I am looking forward to visiting and learning about culture in rural Rajasthan, including the chance to sleep on a roof and be a part of traditional daily life. The language barrier will also be an interesting challenge as I develop my skills of non-verbal communication and try to absorb as much Hindi as I can.

My time spent with the Sambhali Trust girls has been brief as yet, but I have felt the buzz in the air of excitement tinged with sadness as a group of them graduate and move on from the program. It is instantly noticeable that this place is a real haven to many people; even the furnishings, with their bright, happy colours, intricately embroidered curtains and soft cushions adorning every resting place create a real sense of home to all who pass through.

I can see that the work being carried out here by Sambhali Trust is the practical realization of the dreams of many – to work towards a fairer world where caste discrimination, the oppression of women and illiteracy are things of the past and every individual may have the chance to become whatever they desire, with nothing holding them back. I can foresee that I will be taking so much wisdom and new knowledge home from this beautiful place, and I can only hope that I leave behind an impact that is just as positive.


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Report about the Service Learning Trip (SLT) from Standford University , USA

SLT Participants

Practising Bollywood dance for the Independence day

SLT Participants performing a bollywood dance on Independence day at our Setrawa project center

Setrawa participants helping SLT participants distribute leaflets for the need assessment of the village.Trying camel ride
Meeting with the local police
Meeting with the local Doctor
Setrawa participants
A small report on SLT program by Ms.Jessica Robinson, Detailed report as PDF available after the3rd of September 09 on the website.

On Monday 10/8/09 the SLT students arrived at the Durag Niwas Guest House for an official Sambhali Trust welcome of refreshments and a rooftop presentation. Mr Govind Rathore spoke about the work of Sambhali Trust and how it began before screening a 10 minute film explaining the plight of Dalit women in Jodhpur and how Sambhali Trust is working to better the situation through its three programs. The student responded with a number of questions, such as what kinds of methods the organization employs to increase the attendance/retention rates at the Jodhpur project, the ways in which the girls’ responsibilities are affected by attending the program and what the main differences are between government and private schools in Jodhpur. Five of the Sambhali Trust graduates also came up to speak about their favourite activities and how their families responded to their becoming involved in the project. As a continuation of their orientation, on Tuesday 11/8 the SLT students participated in several workshops to introduce them to life and culture in India, and also had an opportunity to go shopping for Indian clothes.

On Wednesday 12/8 the students, Mr Govind Rathore, the FSD directors and three Sambhali Trust volunteers, Michelle, Leo and myself, ventured out to Setrawa and met the villagers for the first time. We split into small groups and walked around the entire village to distribute 400 leaflets explaining the project and inviting people to community meetings scheduled for the following two afternoons. The children of the village trailed behind us excitedly as we met with people in their homes to introduce ourselves and acquaint ourselves with the community. That evening, the group was accommodated in Mr Govind Rathore’s spacious and peaceful ancestral home nearby.

On Thursday 14/8 we returned to the village to continue community outreach activities. We met with a friendly sweets vendor who was pleased to speak with us and inform us of some of the issues his family faced in the village, such as poverty and the drought. We were also welcomed into a family home and given chai and snacks, where the students bravely utilized their Hindi with a “Khana acha ka!” and the women informed us of their problems with water and disease such as malaria. The young men of the house then accompanied us to the local hospital/relief centre, where the nurse generously took the time to explain that the centre’s doctor had not been available for a month and there were two other nurses like him. He noted that he saw 2-3 malaria patients per day, and that malnourishment was the biggest cause of unnatural death, despite the government’s provision of vitamins. He also mentioned that around 60-70 people come through the centre each day and must travel to Jodhpur for dental and gynecological services.

We also met with the manager of the local police station who explained that the heat and busy times such as the pilgrimage made effective management a challenge and also put further strain on many other ailing systems within the village.

In each afternoon for two days we then held community meetings in the Sambhali Centre. The attendance was excellent; whilst mainly women and children, many people had also taken the time to voice their concerns in written form on the backs of the leaflets we had distributed to them. The women were very open and helpful when discussing the issues that faced them: accountability and funding issues in schools, government grants/aid money not reaching the village, sewerage problems, water sanitation, illiteracy and a lack of rights awareness amongst people in the village came up many times as major problems. One gentleman explained that a lot of people accept that hardships are simply God’s will and are not aware of ways that they can seek assistance for their problems.

The children in the meeting told us how they wished to continue studying so as to become professionals and contribute to the prosperity of India, but that it was difficult for the girls because many parents did not approve of their daughter attending male-dominated higher education. We learnt that many girls do not remain in school past 8th standard; they begin work in the household after this time.

The SLT students asked whether people were able to prepare for droughts somehow and the villagers explained that this was not financially possible. Around 10 of the people attending the meeting admitted that somebody in their family was forced to leave Setrawa to find work, which usually involved difficult commutes or extra money for alternative living arrangements.

The SLT students were consistently mindful of the notions that people in the village could have about foreigners and development work, and regularly discussed in de-briefing sessions the need to be respectful and objective when gathering information.

On Independence Day the SLT students took a break to attend ceremonies at the local government school and the Setrawa school. We witnessed beautiful performances of marching, prayer, dancing and singing and gave our own Bollywood-style dance show at the Sambhali school, much to the amusement of the children. At the government school 6 of us gave small speeches introducing ourselves and the project and thanking the community for their hospitality.

In discussion sessions following these few days in Setrawa, the SLT students considered the interconnectedness of the problems in the village and what the root issues might be. FSD director Garret Wong guided the group to think about how their projects could inform, empower and mobilize the community to find solutions that are congruent with culture, acceptable to the people and can be continued and committed to.

Whilst considering these points and preparing for their projects, the students will spend the coming week meeting with various local organizations to build a picture of the other issues people face in India, including the Mine Labour Protection Campaign, People Living with HIV/AIDs Swansthan, the Department of Water & Sanitation and the Department of Women & Child Development.


Please read soon for more interesting pictures and reports.

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