Post Written by Anna Martin and Colton Sy, intro by Kim Fillion.
We completed our volunteer work at Sambhali Trust and celebrated Diwali with our host family. We are being challenged to understand the world beyond our individual perspectives and are learning ways to give back to the community.
David Wang, Eve Mansfield, Anna Martin, Kate Majewski, and Colton Sy at the Rao Jodha Park
These past two days in Jodpur have been mainly focused on working in the service centers of Sambhali Trust that we were assigned to. I was able to work with my classmate Daisy and my teacher Sally at the Shakti Empowerment Center, which consisted of girls starting at age 12. These girls who were at the center came either from abusive relationships, poor families, or from lower castes. Because these girls are from the target group, with little or no access, they rarely see respect and kindness from individuals in positions in power. Here at these centers they are able to learn to read and write, learn English and learn how to sew. We as volunteers were able to teach them English, as well as share with them some stories of home and our friends. It was really eye opening talking with some of the girls. Even though some where only 16 or so were married, and we were often asked who our husbands were, which seemed outrageous for me coming from America, but is a cultural difference we need to understand. For these girls marrying young is the only option, and in fact and really showed its prevalence in some of the English work the girls were learning. When I was going through the notebook of a student one of the questions after how old are you, was are you married. In addition to teaching the girls English we sang and danced with them to interact in a way that was less language based because of the barrier we were trying to overcome. We taught them the song and dance of head shoulders knees and toes, not only for the song but the anatomy was helpful too. In return one of the girls turned on the radio and showed us amazing dances that she had learned and performed for us. All of the girls seemed really happy to be learning, and were all so kind that it was hard to remember the environment that they come from. Later in the second day of service learning we spoke with Govind Singh Rathore, who founded the Sambhali Trust, and he educated us on women in India today, specially the ones who come to their centers. He spoke of all the hardships these women endure specifically regarding marriages and their rights as human beings to make decisions on their own. Hearing the horrible stories of mistreatment in contrast to the happy and clever girls we were interacting with earlier was mind blowing, and I think a very eye opening experience for everyone involved.
The group celebrating Diwali!
For the past two days our group has been working with the Sambhali Trust organization. The organization works for the empowerment of Indian women. We divided into many small groups of 2 or 3 students. My group headed to the Sambhali Trust boarding house, one of Sambhali's many projects. The girls at this house were ages 5-15, and there were about 20 living there. We told them stories about our Christmas and holiday traditions, in exchange they told us about their Diwali traditions, which is the holiday on November 11th. We taught them how to sing jingle bells, dance the Macarena, and sing Jerusalem, our school song. They sung us Hindi songs and danced Indian dances. We came back the next day on Diwalii and all the kids remembered our names. On the second day we walked to the park with them and played games like cricket, freeze tag, and jump rope. Overall this was an amazing experience for us to truly see the everyday life of locals, but also for the kids to get some new visitors to their home. We finished off the day with a loud and colorful local Diwalii celebration and an energetic dance party led by our teacher Kim.
The Lakshmi Puja at Diwali!