Wednesday, 29 July 2015

To Leave Gajner

Child from the community playing with a kite

Five months ago I arrived in India to start my internship with EduCARE and yet it is the end: I have to go back home in France. But, full of that experience, I am sure that my relationship with people will be different and I will reduce as much as can my impact on the environment.

I worked in Gajner, a small village in Rajasthan. There it is the desert and with our little team we had to face electricity power cuts, live without water for few days, undergo sand storms… Many events that locals have to face all their lives. Actually, what could seem really uncomfortable back in our western countries, is not so awful: we get use to everything and we learn to live with it.

In Gajner, the cast system is still running and while some young people go to college, other children can’t go to school and run with no shoes in the street.

In that environment, the cluster, that is to say, few young interns, tried to implement projects to help with the development of the community. We worked on After school Program, Women Empowerment, Environmental issues, etc. I started to implement a solid waste management system, which this village, as others in India, needs badly. Indeed, there, trash is on the ground, in the water and polluting everything. It involves one local trash-picker, several shopkeepers and the population, especially the kids from our different clubs. The purpose is to develop awareness little by little within the community.

To be honest, I learned more than I taught. But I believe that in some way I helped to start a change. The population here is ready to move forward and open to any suggestions, much more than in my country. They listen and take time to understand, they are hungry for knowledge and love to share theirs.

By dealing with trash, I also realized how difficult it is to get rid of it, even in western countries, and how much we just throw in the nature. In France it is hidden so we don’t notice it, but we can’t get rid of too much of our waste... and we produce so much.

I faced lots of challenges: working in a different culture with different codes and languages is not easy. But I also discovered how welcoming these people are and how happy they are to give. I spent so much time with families drinking a chai, playing with kids: to build relationship here is the most important thing. In Gajner, they don’t believe in ideas, projects or money, they believe in people. When they give their trust and love, it is true and forever. It is difficult to describe how they would do everything they could to help us and to bring you what we need.

So I leave and my project stays without monitoring. I tried to do my best every day to build a sustainable system but it is difficult to give up something so young and so unfinished, something where I put my heart and my energy for 5 months. I hope someone will come soon to take my place and keep working on this. Because people I worked with believed in that project, they are sick of the waste everywhere and they care about their health. They may just need a little help to find resources and ideas. I believe in Gajner’s cluster and I am very exciting about the other interns’ projects so I leave Gajner but I am full of hope for the future of this village and for all his kids.

Lea Monin - France
SWASH project manager, Gajner

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