Early morning and a 2 and a half hour drive deep into the Himalayan mountain range. The roads are treacherous and hug the mountainside, often with drops of thousands of feet merely a few inches away. Myself and the MGVS field team arrive at our destination and from here we set off on foot to find the most remote and forgotten communities in the Uttarakhand province. Our first stop is with an inspirational 12 year–old girl named Saru, who unfortunately suffers terribly with Polio. She is bedridden and has never made it beyond the confines of her small dwelling. Thankfully MGVS have built a toilet at her home, a luxury that over 70% of these families do not enjoy. The very kind Anita (disability officer) has taught Saru to knit and sew and she is making garments for other villagers as a source of income. I was further overwhelmed when I met Kiran, a 13 year–old girl who suffers both a mental and physical disability and is unable to move herself nor communicate with anyone. She cannot speak nor eat and is covered in flies. With insufficient income to afford hospital treatment, her father gratefully accepts our offer of help.
Our foray into the villages then brought us to Gair High School, where I witnessed the Adolescent Programme taking place. This programme (mainly co–ordinated by Rama) has several strands including Girls Empowerment, which is facilitated by two 20 year old girls who provide guidance and are a shining example to the younger girls as to what they can achieve in life. I observed a lesson on personal hygiene before a gender equality class took place. The girls then took part in computer classes as the boys can access this outside of school. After a very interesting day in the field, we arrived at the most rural of locations, where we rested up for the night. Deep in the agriculturally dominated valley was the sound of silence, broken by the crackling of the camp–fire. A wonderful aroma of Indian spices filled the air as I enjoyed a delicious home–cooked meal with the team (using only my hands of course). As night fell, the “chan” and “satarai” (“moon” and “stars”–my Hindi is improving!) lit up the clear sky. Really enjoying life in rural Northern India.Posted in Paul’s blog
on Tuesday 28 October 2014