Ever since NREGA work begain taking up more time we couldn't teach in the afternoon. So we shifted literacy classes to the evening again. Just like before, the only people that showed interest during the evening were children. Hence, we moved the classes back to the afternoon, now in Bhuri Bai's shaded veranda. During this time, Shantaji teaches her sewing classes.
A well-oiled routine has shaped up our day. Breakfast, bath, and some time to read. At noon, Shantaji holds a Kishore Balika class. Targetted toward preteen girls the class aims to educate the young on issues such as personal hygiene, food and water sanitation, body image, and biological changes. For the past two days Shantaji has spoken on safe topics such as 'cleaning the veranda' and 'the kitchen'. Slowly, she hopes to discuss the female body and menstruation.
Around 1:30 in the afternoon NREGA workers return home. Shantaji heads to Laaduji's to teach stitch blouses and skirts, while Nikhil and I head to Bhuri Bai's. At 3 pm we head home and devour a hearty lunch. From 6 pm to bedtime our veranda is flooded with children of all ages. Sopme read, some draw, others do math. A group of kids fill their slates with whatever they can confidently show-off. Most of the time its counting.
I see our presence as having one significant impact - it's giving people a chance to think about education. Jasodha comes straight upstairs after her 6 am - 8 pm factory shift, pushing yawns aside as her exhaused eyes struggle to recognize letters. When I get milk Sahri Bai's daughter-in-law asks why I haven't been coming to the 'famine' anymore. I stand up at 3 pm, dismissing literacy class - Paanchi and Bhuri continue writing two-letter words into their newly acquired copies; they don't want to leave. At every opportunity literate boys and girls voraciously read the picture books we brought from Bhilwara. The impact isn't huge, but it's there. Imagine a pebble thrown into a lake. Almost two months into the Kheda, this is the first ripple.