Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Social Mapping

Back to Salaiya today. Mankiji is ridiculously patient. He takes the time to explain the purpose of each activity, answers everyone's questions, and pays attention to the little details. For example, we numbered each of the 112 households on the social map of Salaiya and asked the villagers about each home, who was the head of the house, whether they had BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards, if there were any widows, disabled, or elderly people in the home, who was landless, etc. This particular task took a long time, and naturally a great deal of patience. I doubt I'll ever be able to exercise such lack of frustration, but then again, practice is what leads to improvement. The social map was created based on a few other indicators, such as caste, availability of water resources, the presence of an anganwadi or other health facilities, and schools. The village was divided into 'tolas' which were largely caste-based.

At the end of the social mapping process, Mankiji told the villagers that we would come after a few days and discuss what the village needed as far as government services are concerned. At that point itself, suggestions starting coming forth - a road, a handpump...the people who gave these suggestions were generally the same people who had been the most vocal in the social mapping. The women, though few, had been largely silent. One of the women started to speak. She was in the back of the crowd. Some of the men told her to stop talking nonsense. When we were getting up to leave, another woman approached me. It seemed she had asked a question, so I explained to her what we were doing and what was expected from the villagers. She replied through dramatic hand gestures and forceful thumping of one hand with another. From what I understood, she spoke about how people always talk, but nothing gets done. Promises are made, but not kept. She was communicating her reality, sharing it with me, and all I could do was hope - that the village plan created by the community gets approved at the Gram Sabha, and that it gets implemented.

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