Team India updates from the field in Kolkata.
Monday October 24th 2011
Today we start hosting a researcher named Tanya that is here to evaluate the Jewelry Training program and other Income Generation Projects that Made By Survivors help manage to help determine how effective they are and, potentially, how we can make them better. Tanya will be conducting a one on one interview with the local staff and the girls in the program to get an idea of how the program impacts them and if/how it has changed them.
We are excited to get this research going since we’ve seen the changes the girls have went through during their time with Made By Survivors and are confident that we can replicate this success elsewhere. What this research will do is give Made By Survivors some great baseline data to use as comparison and as a guide to ensure we are helping the girls in the most effective way possible. We will be publishing the results in the future but in the meantime we will be giving periodic updates on our blog and Facebook page so please keep checking back.
Tuesday October 25th 2011
Today is errand day. One of the least popular days for Team India since we have to spend most of the day running around getting all the much need small things done that always seem to pile up way too quickly. It can be a very challenging day, especially when it’s hot, but thankfully we don’t have to deal with that this time of the year. It might sound easy when you’re used to one stop shopping in the western world but here in India there really is no such luxury. For things like jewelry supplies, components, bags, tools and materials you usually have to go to 3-4 different places that can be spread out in different parts of the city (or if you’re lucky in a vast, unmanageable and highly chaotic market).
The vendors tend to have an attitude with you (especially if the western guy is with you) and try to drive up the price 5-10 times more than you should be paying. It’s like going to Target and having to constantly fight and haggle for how much to pay for everything you need to buy and then realizing that you just paid way more than the person before you. At first it can be fun to haggle but after a while you just want to be able to walk into a place, pick what you want, pay the same price as everyone else and get out as fast as you can. No such luck here though. Going shopping here can kind of be like going into battle, one which you rarely ever win. Man what I wouldn’t give for a Home Depot right about now.
Wednesday October 26th 2011
Tomorrow is Diwali (Festival of Lights), the biggest festival in all of India. Right now there are homes and businesses all over the country with lights strung up, candles burning and people dancing and celebrating. It’s basically the same as combining Christmas and New Years so I’m sure you can imagine how much fun it can be.
According to Wikipedia:
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship ofLakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala. It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patalaand took the reins of his new kingdom in there. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.
While the story behind Deepavali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).
Here in West Bengal we celebrate Kali Puja which is light-up night for West Bengal and Assam, corresponding to the festival of Diwali where people light candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Kali is worshipped for whole night on one night during this festival. This is also a night of fireworks, with local youth burning sparklers and firecrackers throughout the night.
Pictures and video will be posted on our Facebook page later this week for you to enjoy.