Wednesday, February 2, 2011

India Republic Day...and Australia Day

Wednesday, 26 January was both India Republic Day, which commemorates the birth if the Indian Constitution after getting rid of the British and gaining independence and Australia day, which commemorates the European invasion of Australia. In our honour, Jamkhed celebrated both, though thankfully more emphasis was put on the former. Dr. Arole told us that they purposefully don’t invite government officials or powerful businessmen to their India celebration but prefer to have HIV positive patients or Leprosy patients, to demonstrate that those people are as much a part of the fabric of India as the “important” people.

The celebration included a performance by the children from the Jamkhed compound preschool, which services the slum across the road. The school was started by Jamkhed to help the immediate community and while its been operational for a number of years, ahs only been in a formalised setting for one year. There was also a poem and a group of our students sang the Australian National Anthem (I did not). Then, we all helped out giving out snacks of grain and bananas to the children. I can’t imagine Western kids getting this excited over a banana. At the end, the kids asked for “just one photo”. They see westerners all the time at the institute but still want “just one photo.”

Our class-time was much more like regular class, with lectures and PowerPoint’s by both Dr. Arole and others on various issues, such as the Caste system in India, Tribal Groups in India and Social Factors (aka determinants) in health. It was good to hear this and put it in context. The Caste lecture was especially enlightening and interesting to hear how the Jamkhed model worked to deal with Casteism. For example, when they were deciding where to dig a well, they would put it in the Dalit or “untouchable” area, to ensure that these marginalised people would have access to the water and force the higher castes to come to that area and mix with them. They also sought out low-caste women to become Village Health Workers…but I’ll save that for the VHW story, which is coming up next!

Here are just a few photos from the celebration:

The whole pre-school sings

A few girls had a solo

These women recite a poem (in Marathi so I don't know what about...)

"one photo, one photo"


chippy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chippy said...

Increible discrepancy btw wedding for 1000+ guests and sleeping with your goats! Enjoying your posts and adventure very much! xx

Stanzel said...

Hi Sheryl,
I love your blog and I enjoy reading about your Indian adventure. So far I read all about your arrival in Pune, the trip to Jamhked and accomodation and room assignments to the elder (btw I am Karin's husband), the wedding and your first visit to the village. I know you are all very busy during the remainder of the course, and Karin keeps me up-to-date as well, nevertheless I am looking forward to your next blog.
Thanks and Regards