One month down, two more to go! Any thoughts I’ve had about this wonderfully, diverse country have all been challenged, changed, redirected and shattered. I knew the western perspective had some misconceptions about India but I’m now realizing just how many. This week I had the chance to get to know two girls who came from Mumbai who just joined as part of the communications team. We spoke on many things together regarding Indian traditions, customs and the not so simple ways of life. From an outsider’s view women staying at home and working; cooking and cleaning and watching after the children is simple. Yes, the acts in and of itself may be simple but take a deeper look and there are many rules and customs to abide by. For example, when there are two bothers the oldest brother and the youngest brother’s wife aren’t allowed to have a relationship, at all. They can’t talk or see each other. When he enters the house he either coughs or calls to someone in order to warn her of his entrance so she’ll leave the room. In family pictures he’ll stand in the back and she’ll be brought in at the end, veiled and be ushered out first thing. The reason for this is to keep order in the joint family. If they don’t have a relationship it’s easier to give and take orders.
I have learned so incredibly much through these wonderful ladies and through conducting interviews with Team Balika members. This week I got to visit a couple more schools where the students adorably sang and danced for us and went to a temple opening festival. At the festival, was mass amounts of food for the whole village to be fed but still there were dividers set up for the division of the different castes to eat behind. In some ways there is so much progress and in other areas the old traditions have such a tight hold still. Traditions are great in order to not lose the base culture but some traditions are very harsh in discrimination and dividing the people.
The more people I meet, the more my mind is filled with knowledge and history. Watching the young girls in the hostel sing and dance, with an extra shimmer in their eyes because they don’t have to go back to a home where they may have to work lots or abuse takes place was remarkable. Hearing them giggle and call after me “Didi, Didi,” (Big Sister) is why I’m here; to help make this whole world attainable to them. If Educate Girls can enroll just one more girl or convince one more father to let his daughter study past the age of 15 then our work here is done. Fighting for the cause. ~Anna
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson