Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Few Days

I finally made it to Jodhpur! Internet connection is not very reliable, I finally found a little plug USB that I can use, its in one of the classrooms and I won't have steady access to it, but that's almost nice. It has only been 3 days, and I already feel very comfortable and at home here. This is all because of the amazing host family. Technically I am staying at the Durag Niwas Guest House, but Govind Rathore and his wife Mookta, run the Guest House and the Sambhali Trust, which is also located here. They also live here with Govind’s brothers and the rest of his family, so I'm just going to consider them my host family.
The guest house has blue interiors and everyone gathers is this central outdoor living room area, and the rest of the guest house circles it. There are many beautifully colored curtains that align the guest house. I’m pretty lucky, I get my one room (bubble gum pink-no joke), and delicious food.
Yesterday was my first full day in Jodhpur, and one other volunteer, Corinne from England, showed me around the city and helped me get a SIM card and phone. Everyone here has cell phones-Rickshaw drivers, street corner sellers, storeowners, its actually quiet amazing. The city is amazing, there is so much activity, so many motorcycles and rickshaws and cars winding in and out of each other’s way. I even saw the Jodhpur elephant! Jodhpur has a lot of historical places that I hope I can visit on my days off, there is a fort, an old palace, and the market.
In the afternoon I finally met the girls! It was very exciting; they were all so curious and smiling. We sat down and I introduced myself to them, and got to know them a bit. The level of English is very varied, some girls are very fluent and others barely speak a word. They all thought that I was Indian, and they kept on saying they expected me to speak in Hindi. Sharzy was hard for them to pronounce, so they gave me a new name: Shogoon. It was very nice, and I learned a couple of Hindi phrases and words. They showed me their sewing and some of their work. The Trust provides a number of services, but the main ones are math, Hindi, English, sewing, and a number of workshops based on the volunteer’s capacity and experience. I will mostly be working with three girls who have a hard time with English. I want to interact with the girls a bit more and see what kind of self-esteem workshops/activities I can provide them with. I really want to organize something where they can learn a bit more about their rights as women and Dalits.
I have already learned so much, and I’m excited to get to know the girls more. They smile so much, and they are so sharp and keen. I’m nervous about what I can do, I’m jotting down ideas and reading a bit, Govind’s aim for the organization is sustainability, self-sufficiency, and stability. I think I just need to interact with the girls a bit more to get ideas, and let them inspire me.
Hopefully I can load pictures soon, it all relies on the Internet connection, which I’m hoping I can access more often, now that I found it.