India Yankee 10 – Naganapura Colony

18th November 2014

We started week three with Diwali festival! Which was very interesting as the two tribes in our village celebrated differently, but we are working to bring the two communities together. We had fire crackers and mini rockets which we set off in celebration for the festival of light! Lots of the village children gathered around our porch of the Kindergarten where we sleep. The villagers hung decorations from lampposts which were like garlands made out of leaves and flowers, they also stuffed a shirt and trousers to represent the villain in which Diwali is all about, and had the head as a coconut which they attached to one of the lamp posts.

Hannah, Ginah, Jennifer and our Team Leader Ruth joined the Women’s Self Help Group with biscuits and a tarpaulin (a big blue waterproof sheet) to sit on for the meeting. The women were very friendly and we were quickly underway with us dancing the Macarena in exchange for a Kannada dance and song that they did for us! We showed them pictures of our families and friends and they were very interested in us, we learned about their money loan service which they all put 25 rupees in each, every week and if any of the women need money or help financially they all help each other out. There are two different groups for each side of the village, we haven’t had the opportunity to meet the other group yet. We have made arrangements to have a Cross Culture exchange with the women, and we will make them English tea in exchange for Chai, and they are going to dress us up in Saris and we are going to sing and teach them a dance of our own! Very exciting!

We are very lucky to have organised 3, 3 hour sessions in the school every week, Monday’s, Wednesdays and Fridays. So we kicked off our first session with Chair & Co Chair of Infrastructure, Hannah and Ginah with a Tippy Tap and handwashing session. It was very daunting to walk into a class of around 30-40 children all mixed ages, who don’t speak English, to teach, however with the help of our in country volunteer Basavraj who speaks Kannada and English, it went smoothly! They loved it... we introduced the importance of washing hands and the steps of doing it properly. We then showed them a video on how to build a tippy tap followed by a poster that Hannah & Ginah made...we then hid the materials needed for a Tippy Tap around the school and they had to find them, like a treasure hunt! We then built the Tippy Tap all together in the school field and showed them how to use it! It’s been very popular demand since which is amazing!

We then did an activity with the villagers called ‘Social Map’ where we get them to come along and draw out their village on the floor, Hannah collected/borrowed some sand from the school playground and mixed in Holi Powder to make different colours to represent the houses, shops, toilets, showers, school etc. The night before we did this we went round to every house in the village, there are only 80 so it didn’t take too long, and invited them to meet us at 8:30am, unfortunately the men got called to work so we didn’t have many show up, but that didn’t stop us...we found a drum in the school and Basavaj, followed by John, Hannah and some village children and we went around every street banging the drum shouting and telling the women and remaining men that didn’t go to work to come and join us, so we eventually had a really good turnout. It was a success!

Our second session in the school was delivered as part of the Awareness Raising committee Chair John & Co-Chair Jennie, which we did ‘The Importance of Brushing Teeth and Dental Hygiene!’ We started with the importance and benefits of brushing teeth, and all of the children brought along their toothbrushes, thanks to the help of teacher Umesh, and any of the children that didn’t have toothbrushes, don’t worry, we provided! This was followed by an activity outside the classroom where we selected a 3 minute song that they had to keep brushing until the song had finished! Very inventive I must say – the children loved it and I think they learnt a lot from the session, we have started a Tooth Brushing club every morning at 8:30am outside our accommodation!

We joined along to the self help group session for women organised by the members. When we got there we were told that the whole village would come and watch us perform our dance and nerves quickly kicked in. It was a pleasure to be part of the whole ensemble. An Exchange of dance, food and clothes took place and the ladies quickly rushed the girls Hannah, Ginah, Jennie and Ruth to get into traditional dresses that all the women at the session were wearing. They seemed too pleased with us wearing the traditional dresses as we seemed to get many compliments and smiles from them. Members of the village started congregating and before you knew it there was about 100 people all awaiting the performances of the members and us. The self help group ladies started the show with a traditional dance which originated from ancestors when they once lived in the jungle. It was a very special dance as none of us had seen anything like that before and all the ladies seemed so happy and beamed with passion when it came to them teaching us that dance. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience. After the show finished we started off the Venn diagram which is an analysis of the institutions in the village and their importance and finished off with the village timeline which gave us the true history of the village and some of the locals had some amazing stories of the village way before it was established as Naganapura Colony. Just as we were thanking the locals and self-help group for attending and helping us with our work. Some of the self help ladies informed us they prepared a special meal for us consisting of local delicacies and insisted we stayed for it. Which we did and thoroughly enjoyed that some of us went for seconds, thirds and even fifths.

At the end of the week we began lifting hundreds of bricks and constructing toilets to help the masons. All of the team Hannah, Ginah, Jennie, Ruth John, Guruswamy, Naveen and Mohnish worked really hard to make sure all set tasks were completed. We then had our Friday session in the school in which we taught the children about Halloween, we began with a Kannada/English lesson on colours and animals, followed by mask making, where we assisted the children in designing their own animal. Another real success!

We are looking forward to our last week in the village before Mid Phase review, where we go back to Field Base for 4 nights.