Monday, August 10, 2009

August the 10th, arrival of SLT and other volunteers

Ms.Surabhi Agarwal Final Impression and some pictures of her work in Setrawa village project.
Pictures of New building of Setrawa project, sports ground in sand behind the project center and the green land is from a private school near by.

MS. Surabhi Agrawal

Sambhali- Final Report

My internship with Sambhali has been eye opening as I have encountered some of the most challenging issues one faces when working in the field of development. My stay in the village, Setrawa, allowed me to delve deeper into the rural areas and learn from what I saw. Between laughing with and teaching the girls to having meetings concerning microfinance, it seems the past two months have passed in the blink of an eye. Now as it comes time for me to say goodbye, I realize how hard it is to leave the beautiful community of which I have become a part. The desert heat had become bearable only because of the smiles of my girls in the school, their welcoming attitudes, my host family’s generosity, the evenings of cricket or badminton and the eagerness with which all the students wanted to learn.

Every day the local teacher Usha and I conducted sewing class in the morning and then English class in the evening. The sewing class had more students come in the last two weeks when we started making some purses and handbags to sell. Therefore, if the production of items continues and the school receives some profession training in sewing, then I know the morning class will continue to flourish. We divided the evening class into two, as Usha taught the smaller students the alphabet while I had more complex lessons prepared for the older girls. We were able to learn the past tense, future tense, prepositions and possessive pronouns. We also had game day of Fridays where the girls learned about teamwork, taking turns, helping one another and building confidence.

Aside from teaching, Usha and I went in the evening to the homes of the women interested in being part of a microfinance project through the formation of SHGs (Self Help Groups). These interviews were conducted to help with the microfinance proposal being written in Jodhpur by two of the other interns. It is my hope that after I leave, another intern will overtake this project as the women in the village are greatly looking forward to the possibilities this savings and loan project can create.

In addition, before I left, I was able to see the installation of solar panels in the Sambhali School in the village. I was motivated to find an alternative sustainable source of energy one afternoon when I was teaching the girls and the electricity had gone out. They girls were patiently learning and not once complaining even though we were all sweating profusely as the classroom had no windows and the noon sun was not showing any mercy. Finally, after about forty minutes of studying in these conditions, one of the older girls asked me, “Didi (sister), it is way too hot to study here. Can we please do this lesson later?” Still having another hour of class left yet knowing there was no way we could study in this heat, I let the girls go home. However, that moment greatly influenced me because here I saw a group of students with the will to learn yet their education was negatively affected because of a lack of basic amenities such as electricity, which should be present in all schools. Thus, after much research, obtaining permission to attain the panels and finding a reliable local individual who will install and maintain them, the official installation of the solar panels was remarkable. Now the school has four lights, a big removable fan, and a VCD/CD player that will operate during the school hours. I felt proud because at least the heat will not be an issue that would prevent the girls from learning anymore.

Overall, the past two months were important as I gathered first-hand experience working at the grassroots level, I learned about myself as I lived in conditions new to me, and I gained further insight about my India roots. Living in the village was a humbling experience and my students were the best that I could have ever asked for. Sambhali is doing a great job in Setrawa by promoting education because that is the greatest asset you can give an individual. I hope to come back to India for a longer time in the future because two months is just not enough in the field of development.

Ms. Joanne Edwards
Swansea University
Reading, UK
19th July - 10th August
Reports to come
Ms. Jessica Robinson
Adelaide, Australia
6th August - 20th September
Reports to come

Mr. Ahsan Dharani's, Karen Fan's, Ms. Joanne Edwards final impression reports to come and the new exciting Sherni project proposal online soon.

Few words about the SLT program (service learning trip): A group of 14 young students and group leaders coming from Standford University to the Setrawa project and learn about India and indian culture in Jodhpur.

A press release prepared by Ms.Jessica Robinson

Under supervision of Sambhali Trust on this Monday 10th of August 14 students (11 women; 3 men) from Stanford University will arrive in Jodhpur as part of a Service Learning Trip (SLT) organized by the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD). They will be staying for approximately one month and will be working between Jodhpur and Setrawa with the focus being on the Setrawa village community.

They will meet with Mr. Govind Singh Rathore, director of the Sambhali Trust, to discuss the SLT project. The Sambhali Trust is an organization focusing on women’s empowerment and development and has been operating for 3 years. It runs three projects: the Jodhpur Project, which focuses on women and empowerment in the Dalit community; the Literacy Project; and the Setrawa Project. The Setrawa Project aims to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on caste. Sambhali Trust also operates a small center in Setrawa where participants are trained in basic academic subjects as well as practical topics such as health and hygiene.

The SLT students will begin by participating in educational workshops to learn about India, Jodhpur, Safety & Health, Development & Issues, Culture & Caste and Society & Behavior.

The group will then travel to Setrawa to conduct a community assessment including observational activities and discuss ongoing data collection & analysis. They will prepare their findings and conduct a community discussion to share these findings and future preparations, and plan projects. The SLT group will cover different area topics and gather different sets of information.

After this first week they will transfer to living with a host family in Jodhpur. Here they will meet with a lot of other Non profit organizations and different government authorities.

The group will also participate in cultural events organized by their SLT program placement agency on time to time.

They will then return to Setrawa to begin outreach activities and prepare for and conduct a community meeting. The outreach activities will continue over several days and the planned activities will be implemented. Education workshops and “Clean Village Campaign” activities will also be carried out. Following this there will be community meetings and evaluations, after which the findings will be shared.

Back in Jodhpur there will be a chance to review and reflect upon the trip as well as meet with Sambhali Trust Director Mr. Govind Singh Rathore one more time. The group will depart on Friday 5th of September.

A lot more information and interesting reports and proposals on its way!
Thanks for reading

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