Origins of Uncovering a World of Opportunity
Adopting Our Villages
In the summer of 2014, Project RISHI Pomona members, Pooja Kumar, Meagan Mendez, and Galu Prajapati visited rural areas within northern India to observe several different villages. Through participant interaction, scheduled meetings, and detailed observations, our members were able to understand the everyday lives of villagers and evaluate the presence of certain disparities (i.e. health, education, energy, income generation, access to clean water) within the village. After exploring the many different perspectives of the villages and surrounding areas, our chapter officially adopted three villages: Jhundpur, Tanda, and Jagdishpur in the Sonepat District of Haryana in northern India.
During the trip, several disparities were observed, specifically those regarding health, education, and energy. We reached out to villagers to obtain a survey of basic needs; this survey helped them identify the main health and education issues that were concerning the villagers themselves. In order to understand the many different perspectives of the village, we met with each village sarpanch (city leader), teachers and headmasters, the chief medical officer, civil and assistant surgeon, ASHA healthcare workers, and many of the welcoming villagers themselves. Based on the views and opinions expressed by each of these individuals that our members met, we concluded that our first two goals should be focused on increasing access to healthcare and facilitating a basic education for the children.
The total population of our three villages combined is 6,000 people with one sarpanch in the Tanda village. 90% of the population is considered to be of the labor class with work mainly consisting of farming and construction. The ASHA workers, who are community health workers instituted by the government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, go weekly to each household in the area and check up on the health (mainly of the women) and ask questions to monitor their health. The main health issues present in these villages include anemia, diarrhea, and malaria, which are addressed primarily in the dispensary located in Jhundpur. The nearest hospital, a secondary health facility, was roughly 10 km away from the villages and often hard for the villagers to get to due to the lack of transportation.
Access to educational opportunities is found less in rural villages compared to the better-served urban areas. The lack of teachers was one of the reasons that the school was not an adequate environment for learning. The highest level of education is up to the 8thgrade in the school in Jhundpur, while the other villages only have a primary school (1st– 5th) available for children. Children are prone to lose their literacy and mathematical skills due to the short nature of their education. In addition to this, only about 60% of children further their education following 8th grade, which also decreases their ability to advance their career path and overall future. Therefore, we hope to analyze methods of providing a viable education system that will include sustainable learning resources and extracurricular equipment to keep the children exposed and motivated to learn.
Members of our chapter arrived to India with the keen ability to shelve preconceived notions. Before arrival, members were cautious that villagers may be hesitant to our visit. Effortlessly, villagers were hospitable and eager to welcome Project RISHI members into their offices, homes, and their community overall. Local female villagers were amused at the visitors that struggled to make the perfect circles of rotis while the school children cheerfully gathered to play fun Spanish lessons taught by RISHI members. Authorization was anticipated before visiting India and remains our top priority, since our chapter wants nothing more to respect their social customs. Specifically, the chapter hopes to carry out health and educational projects including a health camp, exposing school children to extracurricular activities, and advance the school libraries between October 2014 and the next summer India trip of 2015. As our members remain grateful for the generous hospitality of the villagers within Jhundpur, Tanda, and Jagdishpur, we only hope to work with them to contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable community in the future.
Author(s): Angel Garcia, Abneet Gill, and Pooja Kumar
Originally published at www.projectrishi.org.