Three days ago I went to Setrawa to see the empowerment center and school that Sambhali runs in the village. It was my first time driving in the highways of India-and that was an experience. Cars are constantly getting into the opposite lane to pass slower cars, trucks, busses, or rickshaw (which happen to be full of people). The scenery was beautiful; the Thar Desert dotted with trees. You could not go more than 10 minutes without seeing an awesome animal, just walking around minding its own business. I saw camels (one hump-if you are curious), gazelles, goats and baby goats, cows, and PEACOCKS!! I felt like the most ridiculous tourist trying to take pictures of the peacock, I’m good at embarrassing myself.
Setrawa is a village of 3000 and it was amazing to be able to be there and experience the atmosphere and people. During the day, Sambhali runs a school for young children there who are not enrolled in school. These kids are such a joy to watch. They get bathed once they get to school at around 11am, and once all of them are clean and fresh, they have prayer and singing. I got to see them pray and sing their English and Hindi songs. They close their eyes and sing with such conviction, all of them are so excited and well behaved. After they stood up one at a time to introduce themselves, in such perfect English! I just wanted to take them all with me-they were absolutely adorable.
In the afternoon, girls who are already enrolled in school come for extra tutoring and practice. It’s incredible that they are putting an extra effort to come and practice even more. Their time at Sambhali is also usually the only time these girls get to have fun and play. The age range is between 9-15, and all of them usually help out at home doing chores when they are not at school. Their English is amazing, and when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, the most common answer is “police woman.”
I also got to see Govind, the founder of the organization, and Sambhali Trust give out a few loans to older women in the community. Sambhali has started micro-finance in the village, and most women take out loans to buy cows, goats, sewing machines, or grinding machines. An American that came with us to Setrawa is doing research on women’s empowerment and micro-finance, and it was interesting to watch what happened and get her insight on how Sambhali differs compared to other organizations.
We ended our day at the home of Govind’s cousin, on the outskirts of the village. Their home consisted of four stone rooms. There were 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, and room where the goats were kept. It was incredible to see this type of life-style, which is considered comfortable for the desert. To see people being able to utilize everything and waste so little (or basically nothing), really puts life into perspective. It’s overstated and completely cliché, but seeing this family and the simple life they lead made me think about what happiness, satisfaction, and the concept of “enough.” I know the feeling is common and stereotypical, but I don’t think its significance and what it means should be downplayed.
My Friend Raj looking great before a family party!
Govind's Cousin's wife making masala chai for us in her kitchen.
The Micro-finance group!