Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lost Hope

Word gets around quickly. People we haven't spoken to are approaching us about the Sarpanch meeting tomorrow. Everyone says they will come. But I've learned not to believe what they say, especially when it comes to meetings.

Let's start with the event that kickstarted it all. The women promised to attend Women's Day celebrations at the Kalyanpura school. In the end, very few attendees came from the Kheda. Every time we attempted to bring people together it resulted in moderate or extreme failure. Today, or example, we wanted to speak with everyone about the Sarpanch meeting. Those resting under the tent were busy feeding their babies/chatting/gossiping. Those laboring in the dug-up lake were not in a position to stop. The NREGA-in-charge told us he would bring everyone under the tent in half an hour. Before we knew it he was gone. Seeing the boss leave many women got up to go home. Getting them all in one place was futile. High attendance at the meeting tomorrow will be nothing short of a miracle. The women speaking up in the presence of men - well maybe that's too much to hope for. I'm growing accustomed to the culture of false commitment.

There are still things I haven't gotten used to. Like the upper wooden panel on our door. Even after a month I keep hitting my head on it. In the beginning I found it funny that I constantly forgot how low it is. Now it's just obnoxious. Repeating the same mistake seven times in a day - not cool.

Our day was winding to a close when Asha showed up with her two month old girl, Krishna. Earlier in the day, she asked me to teach her. Despite her declarations of not knowing much I discovered she know a great deal. This young next-door-neighbor of mine could read, write, add, subtract, and multliply. Asha had studied along with Ratni at a government-run program refered to as the Bridge Course. In this program, the women stayed at a certain facility in Kalyanpura. They ate and lived there, studying for 1 or 2 years. Asha stayed for two. I don't know much about this Bridge Course, but if it produces semi-fluent readers like Ratni and Asha the government must be doing something right.

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