(This blog post does not show representative picture of whole state, it’s just whatever I have seen in a small village)
I am living in a small village near Ajmer (State- Rajasthan, India) as a part of India phase of Global Xchange Program. We are volunteering for Barefoot College (or S.W.R.C.) and working across their different field centers. Our village has 120 houses and population of not more than 700. All kind of things we were used to in UK are scarce here but still people are very lovely.
We get electricity for not more than 5-6 hours a day and there is NO source of water nearby. Everywhere you will get to see only Babul tree! Almost every family has big rain water harvesting tanks. In other than rainy season people get water from a water supplier who brings it from some well few kms away! Most of them use sand to clean utensils!
We tried to talk to villagers and we came to know some of really bad things. Percentage of school dropout is very much. Most of the kids of my village don’t go to school after 8th because students don’t go to school after they fail or/and they need to go to another village to continue education because ‘schooling’ is of no use unless you study something good(there is difference between schooling and education). Many of them choose to earn some money rather than struggling with books. Also when I tried to ask them what you want to become? What you want to do after studying? Most of them had no answer because they are not getting proper exposure and guidance. School has less number of teachers than necessary; students also show poor interest in school because of other work they have at home and overall environment. Almost every girl/women I have seen has stopped going to school after (Child) marriage!
NREGA has given employment to lot of people specially women but workers are facing lot of problems due to lack of awareness and corruption. Workers don’t get the right wage is one of the biggest concern. We raised corruption in NREGA and JSS schemes and as a result the corrupt person looking after NREGA wage distribution got transferred! Because of water problem it’s difficult to grow crops even if they have land. That’s why most of the people end up in working as a worker on nearby construction site or marble factories. Because very few youngsters study after 10th -12th some families have generations who worked as a labor only!
Sometimes they take personal loan on very high interests for marriage, some superstition or some cultural ceremony and work hard for next few years to repay it or lose their land at the end!
Though everything above sounds very negative but Barefoot College (also known as SWRC) is working very hard on some of these issues. You get confused when you see so many problems and you think from where to start? What to do and which problem to solve? But when you see lot of problems, you get lot of opportunities to work! And in such cases better you start from anywhere but take some action! Before starting to work we need to unlearn ‘our concept’ of development and understand what development means to them..
Electricity goes off at 10pm and I go deep in thoughts with millions of star in the sky and every night I come to the same conclusion- India needs hundreds of Bunker Roy, Baba Amte, Anshu Gupta, Anna Hazare and many more such role models… Why not to become one of them? Are you ready??