Thursday, November 19, 2015

One night in Setrawa

Setrawa is a village in the desert in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is around 100 km away from Jodhpur where the main office of Sambhali is based.

Four German volunteers started working in the village in August 2015. They teach Math and English in the Setrawa Empowerment Centre and also in private and public schools.
I , one of the volunteer in Jodhpur, got the opportunity to visit them and to see what their lives in the village are like.

Here you see 3 of the German volunteers: Anna-Lena, Hanna und Linda.

My first impression of Setrawa was: quietness. No traffic, no polluted air, no noises. 

After arriving at the centre I got to know the local teachers and the students. It is one of the centres in which boys are taught as well. Everyone was very friendly and open, we played games with the children and laughed a lot.

The local teachers and the four volunteers are getting along very well. Since the volunteers stay with a guest family, their relation to locals seemed to be closer and more familiar. They experience Indian tradition first hand; they see how family life works in the village.

Because I had the chance to spend the night in Setrawa at one of the volunteers’ guest family I now see the difference between their daily life and ours at the guest house in Jodhpur.

They became a part of the family. They learn to deal with the fact that resources are limited in Setrawa. And they are still learning how to live in such a different culture.
I was impressed by the fact that they get along very well, that they love living in the desert and with their host family. Having the fact that the living standard is much simpler to the one we are used to.

Indian "Grandpa" of Hanna and Linda at their house in Setrawa

Host grandmas

Now I know that you really need to be ready for such an experience. It is not easy to accept the tradition, which includes a behavior towards women that we don’t know from western culture. It means to accept their culture and that peoples’ minds can’t be changed easily- or maybe not at all. And it might not be the duty of a young volunteer. 

I enjoyed staying in Setrawa for one night, seeing the differences to the city life in Jodhpur. I recommend to every volunteer to visit Setrawa. But don’t stay just for a few hours, stay for night. Then you will have an inside view of the traditionel Indian culture in a village. Even if it’s just a short one.

text and photos by Sarah Peinelt
intern at Sambhali Trust

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