Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22nd of 2009

Katy Glentworth from England


Katy’s First Weeks Impression of Setrawa

On my way to Setrawa I was a bag of nerves. Would my host family be kind to me? Would the girls I would soon be teaching like me? I was also anxious to understand what my exact role as a volunteer in the village would be, what would it entail? Would my presence here actually be beneficial to the lives of the women in Setrawa? As we pulled up next to my host family’s house my nerves were soon settled at the sight of Usha and her mother who where waiting outside there home to welcome me with beaming smiles.

Because I arrived on Independence Day there was big celebrations in the village and I felt the vibe of Setrawa immediately. Sambhali had put on a show at the school and it soon filled up with playful children, dancing girls, giggly boys and proud mothers. It was hectic to say the least. The girls were naturally curious to meet the strange white face in the crowd and eagerly bounced up to introduce themselves to me. I was taken back by their charming and enthusiastic manner. Their jolly energy distracted me from the heavy heat of the day, which at the time didn’t seem like a big issue until the next day when I stupidly decided to go for an explore in the afternoon sun. This was a big mistake as the heat sent my head spinning and I got completely lost. Since then I have spent my afternoons hiding from the sun with Usher and the others. The heat is so strong it restricts your every move. I love spending this lazy time with the women and small children. There is this unbreakable bond between the women in the village that keeps the community alive. Their lives are so intertwined it seems that everyone is everyone else’s ‘diddy’ or aunt. The doors are left open for people to come and go, food is shared and offered and babies are passed. I find this ‘what’s mine is yours’ attitude wonderful where everyone is treated like a family member and where nobody is an inconvenience. It makes me think of my street in Edinburgh and the strangers who are my neighbors. How different my life is.

Observing the friendships in Setrawa I have come to see that there is no bond stronger than the one shared by mother daughter, sister, sister. Living here has made me miss my own mum. I was shamelessly drawn to tears the other day when Usher and her mother showed me a video of her sister’s wedding. I am glad I wasn’t there in the flesh as I would have been a complete embarrassment. As they curled up to watch their girl in all her beauty being handed over to her husband’s family and driven off to her future home it became obvious that they desperately missed their sister/daughter. Suddenly I realized that time was approaching for Usha to marry a man of equal caste status. I couldn’t help but think how devastated her mother will be when this time arrives.

A few of the adventurous women have talked about how they look forward to their wedding day, the dress they will wear and the gifts they will receive, many long to be married to men in far away cities saying it would give them a chance to see the world. I wonder how they see me… do they see my independence, my choice to work, freedom to stay out of my home after 7 o clock and eat when I please without being frowned upon?

I started looking at the married women of the village and noticing the set of laws that govern their behavior: if ones in-laws are present she must cover her face, and if she wants to sit down it must be on the floor. A mother eats after her family has eaten. Often Usha’s brother would get home very late and her mother would wait for hours before eating anything. I find myself longing to speak to Usha’s mother but as we share no common language it is impossible to go beyond smiles and Namastes.

I am trying my hand at Hindi which is hard when you have a memory like a goldfish. I even have my own little teacher, Goody who is six and shows up at three o clock sharp everyday with her little red book. She is a very strict teacher.

Communication in Setrawa is hard because of its social nature, but its fun if you’re willing to make a fool out of yourself. In the evenings I am being whisked off to a new house and spoilt with splendid food and games. I haven’t seen so much dancing in my lifetime as I have in a week in Setrawa.

Sleeping under the stars is another perk of village life. And I have never really been a mornings person, but in the village this is not a time to be wasted- it’s the only real time where there is a light breeze and you can be really productive. So after an hour of yoga with Usha on the rooftop I do all my work.

Working on the Sambhali project is both challenging and fun. I am teaching the girls English in the afternoons and helping out with the sewing class in the mornings. At the moment only about eight women come to the sewing session, a few of whom are incredibly dedicated and are passionate about learning new crafty skills working with these women has been a privilege their talent is mind blowing. They work together as a team to discuss different strategies and techniques for the best outcome and they are so practical. I think they could sew a house out of leaves if they put their minds to it. The environment is wonderfully jolly as the class gives the women a chance to gather in a neutral setting away from home and gossip while embarking on a creative task. At the moment we are making jewelry out of recycled material. In the coming week I am hoping to have a meeting with the local sheperd who can sell us some raw fleece so the women can try their hand at felting cloth hats and jewelry out of wool, a local resource.

My evening class with the girls is brilliant the girls are so enthusiastic to learn English and the class beams with energy. However because the girls are of mixed age and ability it makes it hard to plan a lesson that challenges the older ones and is simple enough for the younger ones. On Friday I gave the older one a test on what we had learnt throughout the week and spent time going though some simple structures with the younger shy ones grouping the class in this way worked well and it something that needs to be incorporated into my lessons. Also after a hard days work at school the girls are tired and their minds are restless so I try to include energetic language games into the lessons this lifts their spirits and energizes them.

So there has been a lot to take in in my first week in Setrawa. And I am looking forward to seeing what next week has to offer.

Melanie Schuster from Magdeburg, Germany
17/08/09 – 21/09/09

First impression from Sambhali Trust, Jodhpur

I love power cuts!
Not generally – only since I’m here in Jodhpur as a Volunteer for Sambhali Trust.
That means, only since I arrived here on 17th August.
On that day itself the foundations for my love were laid, even though there wasn’t a single power cut.
It’s because on that day I found out how lovely the place is at which I was supposed to stay for the coming five weeks. Seeing the streets of Jodhpur at night, entering the most wonderful house I’ve ever seen, meeting so many interesting people… Everything just seemed like a dream to me. And then finally the best thing: I met the big boss Govind, who was so nice and sweet that I was totally relieved and knew this would be a very pleasant and memorable stay.

”So what about the power cuts?”, you might be wondering.
Let me explain why electricity is that important to me first. It’s not because I’m just a stupid western girl who always has to use three electronic devices at the same time.
But as I’m working behind the scenes in Sambhali, editing and writing letters and reports, my work depends on a computer.
No electricity – no computer – no work!

That doesn’t mean I don’t like my work. It’s the opposite!
It’s exactly what I always wanted to do: To see what it means to run an NGO.

Finally I can get an impression of how everything is organized and what it really takes to do such a good work as Sambhali does.
I really admire all these people working here, doing such a good job. Everything is so well-structured and I’m very proud to be a part of this for at least a few days.

But working on the computer also means missing some other activities I really enjoyed during the last few days.
Meeting Sambhali’s girls, for example. They are so sweet and lovable that once you went upstairs to their room, you don’t want to leave them anymore. Even though we can hardly understand each other by talking, looking into their eyes I felt really easy and welcome.

That’s why it hit me even harder when I heard the stories about their lives. That really touched my heart. But after having visited the graduated batch in their two sewing centers I know that their participation in the project will make them be happy, self-confident and independent women.

Another thing I couldn’t have done while sitting in front of the computer, was meeting the most important officials together with twelve real Stanford (!) students. That was a really memorable experience as well.
Who would have preferred the computer then?

Apart from that I just really enjoy the beautiful city and the lovely guesthouse with all its people.
That’s why I love power cuts. Because there’s so much to experience right here and I simply don’t want to miss anything as I feel it really enriches my life.
But don’t feel too pity for me! Next week it’s my task to know the girls better. So finally I’m independent and don’t have to take care about power cuts at all…

Moderator:(power cut is a bis issue in Rajasthan, the drought has hit very bad this year, the government can not produce enough electricity and cuts power for 4 hours everyday, this will provide villagers some electricity that government save from power cuts in the cities.)


Khamaghani Dear all who have stayed with me in this battle, today we won our battle but lost it for the love Dakhu had agreed to for her Husband!!!!Khamaghani Dear all who have stayed with me in this battle, today we won our battle but lost it for the love Dakhu had agreed to for her Husband!!!!

Dakhu, her parents, grand parents, cousins and her Husband and his cousins came home and wanted if I would permit Dakhu's Husband Papu to take her away to his home, he apologized , he begged if he could take her, I said the decision was in hands of Dakhu and the ladies from her family, they agreed upon sending Dakhu to her husband, who refused her because of the mental situation, today Dakhu came to Jodhpur to take her 2 months medicine and the regular checkup she had with the doctor and looked happy and healthy, I made her husband write me a promise note that he will look after her, pay for her medicine and make sure she takes them on time and if he neglects her again , we have all the rights to take him behind bars for the violence against Dakhu.
Thank you all once again, all the best and please pray for her good future with Papu.


Recently made two good friends from Germany on my right Franciska and her sister Veronika.
SLT Meeting with the Honorable District Megistrate Mr. Naveen Mahajan of Jodhpur
SLT Meeting with the Honorable CEO Mr.Rajeev Jain of Jodhpur.
SLT meeting with the Women and child welfare department Honorable Deputy Director of Jodhpur Mr.Shakti Singh Ji

With all of your support, Sambhali Trust -Jodhpur Project- (Helping to Empower underpriviledge women and girls) have started with a new batch for year 2009-2011 from the 15th of August 2009

New participants Average age is 14 years old
Mumy is doing very much better, this evening we sat outside on the banch in our little garden, Mumy has changed a lot, has become chatty, lots of fun!, thanks for all your blessings.

Durag Niwas Ready for the Tourists season,we hope our guest would like the new decor.

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