Friday, April 13, 2012

Internship Diary... continued

Visit to Wani Block of Yavatmal District

I have never been to a village like Borgaon before. This was the first time for me. Borgaon is a small village near Wani with about 260 families living here. I got the opportunity to spend time in this village to observe the Gram Panchayat Micro Planning process which was being done an enthusiastic team of young resource persons and field coordinators. This was the first time village experience since the gram panchayats in Kerala where I come from are very different from those in the rest of India. The household survey was being carried out and I accompanied the resource persons while they conducted household surveys. This was an enriching experience in terms of the understanding of the kind of living situation of the households, their education levels, livelihood issues etc. Also I could draw parallels from the survey we had conducted in the koliwadas in Mumbai and understand the contrast and compare with kind of input that was obtained.

What struck me while roaming around the village was the lack of sewage lined and the way the waste water was just let out into the common galis and not even a dug and directed outside. This reflected the utter lack of awareness regarding the health problems that could result out of this neglect. Water scarcity was another issue here. There was also no provision of toilets and the villagers all were used to open defecation which is again an critical health hazard. There was some input from the villagers that when there is no water for daily needs then there is no point in building toilets which would increase consumption of water! Even those household which had toilets.

One of the most memorable events was the Kishori Baithak which was attended by about 30 teenage girls. An ice breaker called Bhasmasur was a runaway success with the girls. This was followed by a story told by the field coordinator which spoke about child marriage and lack of education and the consequences of the same. The Kishori Baithak was a very interesting session with lots of fun and information being parted to the girls about everything ranging from importance of education in the life of a girl, career, marriage and health. In addition we were able to get information about problems of school dropout, lack of uniforms, improper midday meals.

Another interesting event during this process was the Mahila Gram Sabha. Through various sources in the village we had come to know that this was the first gram sabha in last ten years. We were initially apprehensive about the participation of the women, we felt that many wouldn't turn up. But it was heartening to see more than 40 women turn up. In addition there were many young and old men who were curious to know what was happening. The presence of the gram sewak and sarpanch also made the people realise that this was a serious harbinger of change. This process went quite smoothly with discussion of village development and action plan. Also various concerns and issues were brought to the forefront.

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