Monday, May 17, 2010

Its hot out there, it is mid May!!

Khamaghani Dear Friends,

Greetings from 45 Degrees Celsius plus temperature Jodhpur. This time I have become little late in updating the blog, there is a lot going on around here at the moment, new people have joined in and lots of new ideas and projects.

Family :- Grand ma is doing well and Mumy is recovering, Mukta is happy to be back home with the family and her father and sister with her two children are here for summer vacations. We are still looking for a suitable girl for Shakti. Ayush is having lots of fun with his two cousins and school holidays for summer, I am doing fine and relaxed since I have shared my work with our staff from Sambhali Trust. Preparing to go to Austria, Switzerland and Germany for few days with Virendra(my friend) to represent Sambhali Trust in few presentations, meeting friends and knowing lots of new and interesting people from different experiences in their life.

Durag Niwas Guest House :- Very well foreign guest due to heat and offseason, hopefully this year we will have a good tourist season from July onwards with European students and teachers and especially the Sans Frontier groups. All the plants are in shade due to heat, furniture has been put in basement, looks very simple, sand storms are a normal thing in this time of the year.

Sambhali Trust :- The Organization has been running good, with vision, curriculum, structure and regular team meetings. We have had a interesting few weeks since last update.

Sheerni Project Setrawa village- First internal loaning took place, women bought grinding machines for grain, imitation jewelry, training from professional tutor going from Jodhpur and she will bring business of stitching for the participants. Sarpanch(the elected leader of the village) is newly elected young man in his late thirties I think, he is very kind man and participated in the Sheerni project meeting, he is a very good spokesperson and motivates these women to do better, he has given advices on how to apply for Below poverty level cards, ration cards, NAREGA Scheme(employment for villagers by government) cards and how to fight for the rights.One of the ladies from Sheerni wanted a grain grinding electric machine but she has no electricity in hamlet, she spoke to sarpanch about this problem and he just in 4 days had the electric poles fixed, wires stretched through the desert and helped. Women of sheerni has also pledged that they will never participate in a child marriage nor will ever allow child marriage. Ms. Bhagwati and Ms. Leela had left their jobs as field workers, they could not join in the meetings and the leadership was very difficult for them.

Ms. Imrat Kanwar has joined in as a new field worker with us expanding the work of our Setrawa project tuition tutor Mr. Mool singh as second field worker.

Priyadarshini Adarsh SHG(government program):- Income generating program is going on at the moment for these ladies, there are sewing centers operated for 20 days in each area of these groups, we have paid local tutors who go on daily basis in these areas and train there women to learn techniques which can help them in future to earn some living.

Women of these 10 self help groups also pledged in their groups that they will never participate in child marriage nor will let it happen in their knowledge.

Literacy project:- Students will need to be sent to schools again this year, I have sent some of their report cards(unfortunately in Hindi) to the sponsored with their messages and pictures. Hopefully they will bless these kids for the third year with their generosity.

Jodhpur women empowerment project and Payal Sewing center :- both the projects are doing fine, the teachers and volunteer Mr. Joe Tipler and for few days Ms. Susannah page work very hard with the participants.

Mr. Tipler did a very interesting report on Maternal and Infant Mortality issue in Setrawa from data we collected from our Ayurveda(herbal) Medical camp we conducted with Dr. Dheeraj Gehlot.

It was a very successful day, we manage to gave medicine to almost 60 women and interviewed them on maternal and infant mortality issue in their life. Interesting facts and figures came out. If you are interested in this report, kindly feel free and let me know so that I can email it to yourself. Participants of both the project are making beautiful little bags and table covers so that we can present these personalized gifts to our dear friends and hosts on our trip to Europe to represent Sambhali Trust.

We were invited to join in a conference hosted by Women and child development of the district in collaboration with Unicef. It was very interesting and we go to learn a lot from the experts on the issue of child marriage prevention.

Rajput Cultural Adventures :- No promised group or guest for this year :(

Will try to keep yourselves updated on regular basis, thank you for taking your time in reading this blog. We are open to new ideas and advices, please feel free to email me at

Volunteer Report - Joe Tipler

Brighton, South-East England

First Impressions

Projects so far: Jodhpur Project, Payal Sewing Centre, Setrawa Village Project

Proposed stay: 6 months- April2010- September 2010

Durag Niwas

I feel very much at home in this beautiful guest house. I feel that if I were to open up more myself, I could be accepted as part of the family. Everybody here is very genuine, welcoming and warm.

The food is simply fantastic, and my room provides all the simple comforts that I need. On top of that, I make use of the roof space and the various other little cubby-holes if I ever feel the need.

Sambhali Trust

Jodhpur Project

Well, where to start...

Every single one of the participants at this project has been warm and welcoming from the start. Every girl and young women here has a strong character and personality, and I am enjoying getting to know them.

I think it is very important, for future volunteers, that you should not feel sad for the participants. Although some of them have terrible stories to tell, they are all very positive and happy to be at the Sambhali project. Indeed, that fact that they are out of their homes and at this project is one of the biggest steps in the development process. Stay positive!

One of the main things that I like about working here is that the participants are willing and enthusiastic. Unlike other projects that I have worked with, Sambhali trust is generally not taken for granted. This, to me, is a sign of a positive organisation providing the very things that the participants need and want.

The pace of life here is very different to anything that I had experienced before. This is my first time in India, and I love it. I would seriously recommend that future volunteers learn Hindi. I don't mean just a few phrases, actually try and learn the language. Not only will this help you and the participants in the learning process, it will make your time in India more enjoyable and fun. The main reason for learning though, is to help you empathise with the participants who are learning English. It is easy to criticise, or to suggest that the learning here is too slow, but when you actually try to learn a very different language yourself, then you will realise how much of a challenge it is, and just how well the participants here are doing. There is a huge difference in the two languages - The subject of a sentence is in a completely different place, there are a remarkably different number of sounds, phonemes and letters, and then of course there are the scripts. Although arguably Roman script is easier than Devanagari, the English language has many odd and obscure rules to help confuse matters.

Saying that, Hindi has it's fair share of irregular verbs, but nothing quite as confusing (to a neophyte) as 'rough' and 'bough' and 'cough'.

There is a range of abilities here, with one girl presenting me with a handmade text book of Hindi and English, all the way down to some younger girls who are still learning the alphabet. This is a very rewarding job, and I am very happy to be a small part of this process.

Payal Sewing Centre

The Payal Sewing Centre is actually a couple of rooms underneath a large house in Jodhpur. It differs from the main Jodhpur project, but mainly only because the participants are from a slightly more conservative area. For example, they have never had a male volunteer before. However, they warmed up to me pretty quickly and we have been having fun ever since.

My teaching style is very different to that which I am encountering in India. I am keeping an open mind and learning every day. The teachers here are strict and authoritarian when needed, but also very well respected by the girls. As the teachers are so good, it allows me to have a little more fun; besides I only see the girls for an hour or two each day. I believe in positive encouragement, and the girls respond well. Sometimes, when one young lady is struggling with a test on the board, I will encourage the others in the class to help her. This is all about working together after all... But sometimes they need to be quite and let someone work something out for themselves and therefore grow in confidence.

My main problem at this sewing centre has been the division between those who understand, and those who don't. Keeping the 'advanced' ones interested, while not losing the ones who are struggling is a challenge every day. I tend to encourage the ones who have finished to help the others, and often get them to teach as well.


I was fortunate enough to be invited to take part in a Sambhali run medical camp in the village of Setrawa. I still don't know what to say about Setrawa, it really must be experienced. I look forward to working and exploring the area more in the near future. The people are wonderful, welcoming and friendly.

Even the journey from Jodhpur to Setrawa was an adventure, and the food along the way was unbelievably good.


Although I am enjoying India very much, I am finding it physically challenging. I have caught some sort of fever, and find it hard to drink enough water each day to keep properly hydrated. This in turn leads to lack of sleep (3 hours at a time), which is detrimental to everything: my health, my teaching abilities, my enthusiasm Etc.

I recommend for future volunteers that they bring Re-hydration Salts - (Basically a sachet containing various sugars and salts) as these have been particularly useful. Although they are meant to combat dehydration through diarrhoea, they are very good to help replace water lost through excess sweating. And you will sweat here. The coldest temperature experienced so far has been 30 C, and the hottest nearly 50 C. Nothing will compare to drinking lots and lots of water though, I currently aim for 6 litres a day.

I have only had a few bad experiences so far, and these have been far outweighed by the huge number of positive ones. I really love this place and the people. Many many people are impressed and happy that I speak a little Hindi, and in turn they like to teach more. And everybody wants to talk, especially if you head into the non-tourist areas of town.

In fact, when people stop staring at you, you have found a tourist spot! Don't be afraid to explore Jodhpur, it is full of wonderful people. And when people stare at you, there is no malice, just curiosity. Get used to it, and smile back, and a whole new India opens up in front of you.

I hope this '1st impressions' report is of use to potential volunteers. PLEASE CONTACT ME if you wish to know more, or have any questions.

Joe Tipler (this email address will also work for facebook)

+91 9929918769

No comments: