Thursday, June 14, 2007

Starting Work!

Every morning I've taken the time to read Delhi's major newspapers (Delhi Times, The Hindustan) and have discovered that the INTENSE heat we encountered upon arriving in Delhi is part of a heat wave. The weekend heat reached up to 44C and killed many who weren't prepared or could not protect themselves against the heat. I, myself, felt extremely faint and weak during the heat wave peak. A few liters of water a day and plenty of nourishment are so important in this weather!

Our daily 5 liters as Cat likes to call them

However, we braved the heat to start our first day of work- getting an introduction to NGO's (Deepalaya and UDAAN) we would be working the next 4 weeks with. To my delight, we take autorickshaws to work everyday, for it is the cheapest and most convenient form of transportation here. It's nice and breezy, though a bit slow, and the fare is about $2 for a 30 minute ride!

Piling into the auto-rickshaw: often 4 girls squeeze in the back. There are no doors or windows.

At a major Deepalaya school, we were able to learn about how the NGO Deepalaya schools are run and how they cater to the needs of the people. Deepalaya has many schools, some better than others, located within or near many slums in the New Delhi area. They provide schooling up to grade 12 which can be subsidized depending on need and also vocational training for a small sum. Vocational training seems the key to a better life for the sewing, AC/electrical engineering and the computer software/hardware technical classes can almost vault a person's salary to something 5-10X what they would earn if trying to work out of the slums without training.

Men learning electrical circuits and theory in a small vocational class at Deepalaya.

We then visited UDAAN, a center for disabled and mentally handicapped children. The story behind the center is amazing, started almost entirely from the goodwill of two parents of ABLED children who were willing to donate their resources and medical expertise to the job. They now see hundreds of patients and are currently trying to make a clinical study of their treatments on their patients so that a standard of care can be made for this segment of the population.

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