Thursday, July 26, 2007
Priya (in blue) acting as disgruntled community housewife who wants to know why we are here and what our project benefits are. Musheer (holding poster) advertises our project and slogan.
With space being extremely tight in the slum alleys, Meenu (red) and Priya (blue) gave one of their short skits on the steep stairs!
Catherine observing the skits. Women in the background are either watching or preoccuptied with household tasks.
Our beautiful red dust bin. We will be buying 10 of these for our bin implementation phase of our project on Monday. For now, the bin is empty of trash and is just holding Julie :). This is what happens when we are bored in our room and there is a tempting red dust bin stored with us...
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
With the project in full swing, our team felt a need to educate all members of the community about the details of our project and how to make their involvement positive so that our project could be carried out as we envisioned it. Julie and I volunteered to be the Community Education coordinators. Without community knowledge of the project, the project’s benefits, how to use the bins, and how to view this project with the right attitude, a majority of the community would not be likely able to accept and support this project and the project would not be successful in its implementation. Everyone we have spoken to has told us one our biggest obstacles will be changing people's mindsets and habits, but we are up to the challenge!
Our first day of community education was a launch of bright colorful posters with our slogan "Saaf Sehai Say Het Lai!" meaning "Be clean...Be healthy!" and our iconic trashbin man. Our posters advertised when we would be introducing the trashbins in the community (Monday) and were to generate hype and knowledge about our project launch.
Sammy, Priya, Meenu and Julie creating our posters and writing the Hindi slogan.
Our pretty posters. To protect them from monsoon rains we "laminated" them. Lamination is an option here, but the cheap way to do it is to get "plastic cover" from the local stationary store (~$0.25 a meter) and create your own plastic covering. It's basically an akward stiff plastic bag for posters that you need to cut and secure yourself. But nonetheless, we grew fond of this new type of lamination.
In addition to our posters, our entire team did a series of short skits in places around the community educating them about the benefits of our project. Above, the team is acting in the marketplace.
A captivated audience of school children. Getting them to chant the slogan was a great idea by Yamilee and really got the message spread across the community since not many adults (especially the working males) attended our midday plays.
So you must be wondering...what are the benefits of a sanitation project aimed at reducing trash in the waterways and ground?
1. less bugs/mosquitos which breed in the stagnant trash clogged waters
2. less disease spread
3. less water cloggage
4. a nicer/clean community to live in
5. community unity around a single cause
Regular trash collection is a luxury to these people who often deal with overflowing government dumpsters and spotty/inconsistent trash bin and sewage cleaners. We sure do have it made in the U.S.
Local women fetching water. Many housewives viewed our skit!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The RF media personel came with us into the slum today and interviewed several members of the community about their opinions of sanitation and how they felt about the current trash situation. The presence of cameras, mikes, etc. caused a lot of curiousity and excitement :).
Musheer speaking to Krishna, one of our future community committee members, we hope!
Yuck, we want to help the community solve this problem ! Water barely flows and you can find ANYTHING in the water from eggplants and coke bottles to human feces.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Later in the day we got to explore more of India and start our "weekend". With Sony, 3 of us girls (Yamilee, Julie, and I) went to Sarojini Nagar (a huge market specializing in clothes). I bought a beautiful sari which I hope to put to use at some point!
A sari is just the fabric that wraps around one's body. They can range from $5 to $100 depending on the material and the quality/amount of embellishment. But that's not all, apparently you need a "fall" or piece of fabric sewn to inside of the front of the sari so your legs (after long-term walking) won't fray the bottom. You also need a "petticoat" or skirt to wear under the sari. Lastly, you must be fitted for a "blouse", the small top that is worn with the sari.
After our $3 trims/layers we kind of look like twins ...
Sony and her nephew, Shanu!With Sony's family! Such great hospitality and a delicious dinner :)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Dr. Miraj on the back of a bicycle rickshaw. We went to a Fardibad market for supplies.
Crowded market sells anything you could think of: shoelaces to porcelain toilets.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
1. It has to be dirrrrty, lots of trash on the ground and in the waterways.
2. The people have to show an enthusiasm for changing their community for the better.
Woman sewing on her window. The waterways surrounding her house were narrow and congested with trash.Yamilee, Musheer, Meenu, Dharani and Cat disucssing the possibility of working with the community they are in.
This area looks very dirty. This is the end of the waterway. All the waste that flows down this eventually clogs up and someone who's fed up will generally pull it out for the MCD (gov employee) to pick up and dispose of.
At the end of the day, it looks as if we had found the perfect community/small neighborhood to work with. It consists of approx. 180 families or about 8,000 people who live in a crowded area that still has room for local trashbin placement. They had some of the most trash we've seen as one of their streets is a small vendor/market place with eggplants and feces floating by in the waterways. I'm excited to work here, the area has great potential!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
After about 3-4 hours of deliberation over several projects we had come up with and dealing with the possible threats to each project's success we decided that our project would concern a community waste disposal scheme.
Basics of our project:
Problem- Community members throw garbage into open waterways within community and other public spaces, which negatively impacts the sanitation level - and thereby the health (insects breed in stagnant water and water-borne illnesses are common) - of the community (from report courtesy of Cat). This contamination of waterways occurs because the dumpsters are usually quite far and people find putting trash into the water a fast and easy way to get trash away from their homes.
Some seriously disgusting trash/waste congested open waterways (flank all the alleyways).
Solution- place local trashbins, funded in part by the community. The community will be educated to place all their trash in these local bins rather than their waterways. These local bins will be emptied 1-2 times a day (into the government dumpster, often overfilled and neglected) by a community employed individual who is paid by the community.
In order for us to carry out this project and encourage its sustainability within 10 days we know we have a lot of obstacles to overcome and I hope we have a lot of luck our side. Lots of our project depends on community attitude, a not-so-simple community payment scheme for the removal of the trash, and the need for backing by local NGOs (ASHA, YWCA) for us to keep this project going after we leave. But I firmly believe its a project that if implemented will bring about great change in the community we choose to work with and has the potential to become a working role-model for nearby slums.
Just for fun: After work, we were craving some American pizza so after a 2 hour hunt for a Dominoe's/Pizza Hut that would deliver we finally got our pizza. So delicious, we miss our greasy pizzas :).
Cat, Julie, and Yamilee in my room enjoying our Dominoe's!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We met up with a local NGO, the YWCA (like the YMCA in the U.S. but targeted towards women). They provide vocational training for older women and academic schooling for younger children.L-R: Our superivor Dr. Miraj, woman who helps run YWCA, and a Jamia Milia Islamia (university) social work student named Mafoos who seems just a little older than us. Mafoos has dedicated his career towards improving life for the underpriviledged and engaging in social work which is a sacrfice not many make who are as well off as he is.
The RF girls :)- Mansi, Meenu, and Samridthi in the community.
Monday, July 16, 2007
The bath house, I really like the arches in mughal architecture. The trough seen in the middle would be filled with water and ran from building to building.
Catherine in front of the markets surrounding Red Fort, you can see the oncoming monsoon rain clouds in the distance. Here you can find anything from tea kettles to elaborate saris. Also found in Old Delhi is the National Gandhi Museum and a park commemorating where he was cremated. Gandhi's face is found on every single Indian monetary bill quite different from the variety of faces on our American bills!
A dessert store with some of my favorites- gulab jamen (brown friend dough ball in syrup), barfi (almond bar with decorative and edible tin foil).
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The main walkway in Meadows. Lots of greenery and the buildings are pretty simple and sparse.
Later that night we ventured into Faridabad, neighboring region to Delhi and found a movie theater! A 25 minute rickshaw ride only costs us about $0.15, since Faridabad's autorickshaws operate like minibuses. We were able to get tickets to the new Harry Potter movie (not in Hindi! and only about $3.00) and since I'm one of the biggest Harry Potter fans ever I was beaming through the entire movie, which I loved! Personally, I had imagined the Department of Mysteries to be a bit different but I thought Bellatrix Lestrange was perfectly cast.
So for about $5 I got a relaxing back massage and saw a Harry Potter movie! Not bad for a Saturday of western luxury :).
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
However! I recovered from nauseu and stomach pains to enjoy a huge dinner with Julie's family on our last night in Mumbai. Her relatives were incredibly friendly, loud, and loved introducing us to dish after dish of delicious indian specialties. We truly felt a part of her family and without them Mumbai wouldn't have been the same!Julie's younger cousins pointed us in the direction of a local club and bar and we enjoyed a quiet Sunday night in the place which was on the empty side. But the music was great and we recognized almost every bollywood song the dj put on! We had a blast and felt right at home even with lots of Indian guys around us singing Hindi lyrics.
Fittingly, we encountered a small downpour before leaving. Pictured here is a Mumbai taxi, very different from our Delhi rickshaws!