Jhali Ji ka Barana, Bundi, Rajasthan Working on field tests the potential of every NGO. This is when one realizes that, of the 100% itinerary, if one could implement and organize above a certain fraction of it efficiently, a feather would have been added in one’s cap.
Jhali Ji ka Barana is a small village situated approximately 60 kms from Kota district. It has a population of over 10,000 with most of the basic facilities required to sustain a village. People here are very responsive and active as they take part in the activities enthusiastically concerning their villages. Its Panchayat demonstrates such level of decentralization of power that it validates the fact how federal our government is. Miitti conducted a 5 days summer camp for the students at primary, intermediate and secondary level. School activities were organized in two shifts a day, from 6:30 am to 12 noon and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Over 130 students attended the camp throughout the 5 days, actively participating in various activities.
Funding plays a crucial role for an event of such a scale. Due to unavoidable circumstances, we could not clear funds from our supporters, however, we were determined to execute our plan on field in any case. The best way thought of arranging these funds was from the village itself. However, it would take a lot of convincing and talking, gaining their trust and making them believe and see what we saw through our eyes. Team members roamed around the village talking to persons in various shops, homes, government houses and eminent persons who generously gave away what they could. There were some who were skeptic about the organization, whom we invited to be a part of the event. A lot of help came from the Panchayat of the village as well. We were all set to work in the village and the event started as planned.
The enthusiasm of the students from the beginning was at its peak, which only kept on growing in the days which followed. The morning session started with school prayer. As planned on introducing new sports in the village, the first day saw the introduction to Kabaddi for boys and Kho-Kho for girls. Kabaddi was organized with the help of two Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) who were from the same village. Initially, Kabaddi was played only by the male and that too school students, but as days passed, it captivated passerby’s interest as well. A few of the donors (of funds) also participated in the matches. Fierce competition in the eyes of the participants was clearly visible and they learnt all the rules and demonstrated good play as well. Further, girls took interest in the game and started their own matches on the Kho-Kho arena. While boys took interest in Kho-Kho and exchanged the gameplay of the two sports in the following days. Every morning, player of the match was announced who was felicitated at the end of the camp.
In the ground that was available, we also introduced Football and Frisbee as new sports. They were taught by the PTIs. But given the limited number of days, rules could only be taught with only a few matches being played.
Under education, students were divided into groups of 6-8 students each with each team allotted projects for each day and an overall project which had to be presented on the concluding day. “Seeds and Leaves collection”, “Shop enlisting in the village”, “Things missing in the village” and “Skit Presentation” are some examples of the projects carried out by students over the 5 days summer camp.
Introduction to computers was also included to give students a glimpse of computer technology and its usage. On day to day account, students were asked to complete different projects enlisted in the NCERT syllabus which are generally excluded from their classroom curriculum. These included various arts and crafts projects and discussions on topics like importance of education. Evening sessions were pleasant, where students sat and were helped with their career choices and counseled for doubts regarding their education. Everybody shared their future plans and how they were going to execute that.
A dance workshop had also been organized by our team member (Aakash Khandelwal, Dance Secretary and Cultural Councilor in IITB) which covered modern dance.
Though the event concluded on the 5th day, with students performing what they had done in the summer camps, it paved our way to tread the development path for the village. Our quest for tackling the bigger problems started. Upon meeting with the Sarpanch and surveying the village four major problems showed up for us to tackle.
1. Poor infrastructure of ‘Choti Puliya on Maze River’ which gets worse in the rainy season (more than three months) and affects 12 to 15 villages’ direct livelihood in terms of zero connectivity forcing the villagers into difficult circumstances. This issue has been tried to overcome with a proposed project with heavy budget sanctioning from PWD forecast estimation. However, it is pending since long.
2. Poor street light facilities cause routine discomfort. Few solar street lamps were installed but the maintenance cost has dropped the interest of the authorities.
3. Government primary school for girls (upto 8th std.) of which basic facilities and needs are lacking in terms of potable-hygienic water, less maintenance of playgrounds, insufficient electric fans and light etc. Additionally, the playground for the students has been allotted around one hectare (six bighas), which is encroached by other different localities and authorities.
4. Local ‘Shamshan Ghat’ is mismanaged, which is intolerable during the cremation process to villagers.
Having met with the ebullient Additional District Magistrate of Bundi, we are in process to push these problems to a higher priority list and also suggest alternatives to counter these problems. As said, well begun is half done, we take up this challenge of overcoming the problems in an efficacious method.