Best day of my trip to India

Well, I just can't believe last night...it was like a fairy tale in a formerly dirtier slum community.

At 7:30pm last night we presented our parting gift to the community: a slide show / movie of the community members over the past three weeks, so that the community could see through our eyes the love and unity possible in the community. The pictures were often of children, or older community members with children and it was magical...the whole market area in front of the temple filled up with over 200 community members and families perched on balconies and roofs to get a good view. However, the whole day was pretty amazing, so let me back up to the beginning.

After a morning of writing up documents in English and Hindi to make sure all the project stakeholders agree on their respective responsibilities, Musheer and I headed over to YWCA to confirm their attendance at the second big sustainability meeting on Saturday and get their feeback and advice on current challenges. On the right is Vardi Devi (the leader of the community mobilizers for this YWCA branch) and Shanti Devi (office director). I am so impressed with both of these women - they are sharp, strong, connected, and they know what they are capable of. Any community problem we explain to them, they are able to see through all the fog and tell everything as it is - bluntly. They don't speak english but I greatly enjoy every meeting with them.

After the meeting, Musheer, Dharnani and I had a few hours to hang around the community before the others came at 6pm to set up for the show. Here are some local girls we know.

Later on, I decided I would start drawing animals to see if the kids could identify them. Seven animals, two insects and ten minutes later I was being pressed on all sides by small bodies pointing and yelling out names in Bengali, Hindi, and English (from two of the older girls).

I was sitting near the temple writing in my project notebook when this little guy pulled up a stool and sat down right next to me.
At 6:30pm - an hour before the show the crowd has already begun to form. We learned the lesson about crowd control already...

Yamilee and Dharani make sure the sound and projector are working before the show. We have learned that this process must be begun at least an hour in advance because every time we set things up with a new set of borrowed speakers and amp there are always some cables that are missing or wires that are crossed. The community is pretty awesome though and usually an electrician comes out of the woodworks to help out if we appear to be struggling.

Children were told to sit down in front, mostly because they are less likely to run under the rope and knock over the projector this way.

Mansi entertains the nearby crowd as we try to rally as many community members as possible for the show.

Jessica and I accompany Dharani on rounds through our residential pilot project area to make sure everyone is attending...it is good news to see that most of the houses are empty of people :)

The show starts and the people are captivated. Big cheers erupt from the crowd for images of the most popular neighborhood children, well-known shop keepers and friendly community leaders appear on the screen....I nearly cried...but I have also been short on sleep for three weeks now.

As we were packing up, the children's ecitement could no longer be controlled. We protected the equiptment, but Julie who was attempting to take a picture with some children was knocked to the growd by the mob of excited half-pints. Never in my life have I felt like as much of a celebrity - little children popped up all over with their hands stretched out waiting to shake mine and as we walked to the main road and waited for an auto, our 1 m tall entourage was all around us. As the auto pulled away last minute handshakes were exchanged and everyone waved and said good bye.

We were all glowing.

The MIT team decided to treat the RF team to dinner so we went to Le Chef in Sector 37 and had a tasty feast. Despite the exhaustion (several team members hadn't slept at all the night before) - we laughed all through dinner at our inside jokes and impersonations of particularly eccentric (or difficult) people we have met (or people who will surely get fired when their government contract is over...).

All hands in the middle...1,2,3..."INDIA!"


P L said...

That ltl guy is so cute. How did u feel in india? what attract u the most and what u want to change in India?

David said...

I think you have enjoyed very much with these little cute child.

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