Monday, May 19, 2008

End of a chapter

9th - 13th May 2008

As I'd mentioned earlier, Richa had asked me to present my writeup of the organization and the project proposal to the SKMS core committee. The committee members are Richa, Surbala, Reena, Kamala, Shammu, Rambeti, Sunita and Maya with Richa Nagar and Mukesh as advisory members. While Richa, Surbala and Reena are actively involved in all aspects of the organization, the others are newer and have varying levels of involvement in and understanding of the organization. Also, with the varying levels of literacy in the group, most ideas would have to be communicated orally. However, the enthusiasm and motivation of these women and men is very high, so I'm sure they will be equal to the challenge ahead of them.

On the 9th, we gathered in the usual meeting place, the Dak Bungalow in Mishrikh. We started off by discussing what SKMS does and moved on to what it should be doing and how those goals could be achieved. There were a few issues that I needed clarification on and the group did not disappoint. We have often heard that our way of analyzing situations is framed by our socio-economical background, education etc. and therefore we must be very careful not to apply our value system to someone else's life. This meeting gave me a valuable glimpse into this. It allowed me to put a lot of the principles I had reflected upon in a theoretical manner into practice.

The meeting adjourned at 4:30 pm because Rambeti and Maya had to head back to Pisawa before the last jeeps and tempos left. Mukesh, Dwiji and I headed back to Sitapur to brief Richa about it – she had been at another meeting. She had also not planned to attend this meeting to give space for the other committee members to speak.

On another front, a number of stamp papers had been issued in Sitapur dt., presumably to get more false affadavits signed. It was decided that a pre-emptive approach was necessary to stem this. A list of villages where SKMS was vulnerable was drawn up and plans were made for a 'pukka saathi', a seasoned SKMS member, to visit the village in the next few days in order to shore up the confidence of the SKMS members there. A set of 'difficult' villages was given to Richa to handle.

While all this was going on, our current stint in Sitapur was drawing to a close. I had applied for a fellowship at the Community Health Cell and the first 5 weeks of the program would be in Bangalore. Before that, we planned to go on a family vacation with Dwiji's parents and siblings. We found that we could all take time out in the second half of May and plans were made to go to Kerala. Therefore Dwiji and I were leaving on the 13th for Bangalore.

It was hard to believe that only six weeks had passed since we came to Sitapur. We had learnt and experienced so much. We had gained a solid appreciation for the ground realities in Sitapur. The experience also left us brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. This will definitely be the first of many stints with SKMS...

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