Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nov 28: Weekend trip to Udaipur, outreach work, village visits and finishing up our project

Days 8 & 9

The last two days before the weekend were spent mostly at our village construction site, we got most of the brickwork done and began plastering the walls. There was a tour of the village school and lots of Chai:) On Friday afternoon we had lunch with our translators and drivers where we planned out the next week before leaving for Udaipur. When we arrived in Udaipur we checked into the hotel and some of us went to a traditional Indian dance show while others hung out at the hotel and shopped. We all met for dinner on the rooftop patio which was amazing with beautiful views of the lake.

Our weekend in Udaipur

Over the weekend we all split up and did our own things for the most part. Saturday morning a group of us woke up early and went on a tour of the City Palace. It was a huge palace complete with an old elephant fighting arena (pretty much like tug of war only with the elephant's trunks instead of rope) The City Palace can be rented out for weddings for the super rich, the outside courtyard alone is 30,000 CDN for the night before decorations!!
After the City Palace we went to the Jagdish Temple, which was completely packed so we only did a short lap and got some pictures. On our journey back towards the hotel our walk was interrupted by a rude pigeon that decided to crap on my head:( After some wet naps and a hot shower, we hit the market for some shopping! We slowly learned how to haggle and shopped until the stores closed down for the night.
All day Sunday was spent shopping by everyone before a big Muslim festival shut down the city. Then it was time to Journey back to our temporary home in Rajsamand.

Day 11 (Monday)

Monday morning our group went to the Rajsamand Jatan office where we sat in on a Legal Day. They have a program to help laborers with issues such as abuse on the job site, non-payment, or any other workplace related issues. We met some people with issues with non-payment from their employer. One guy was owed 3500 rupees from 1.5 years ago, and and another hadn't been paid in 2 years!
They have 2 Jatan workers and 3 lawyers who meet monthly to address issues employees have. They try to arrange a meeting with the employer and employee together to mediate and try to come up with a solution. Each are given three chances to show up to these meetings before they are issued a notice for court, where the courts will make the final decisions.
After lunch we returned to the job site to do some cement mixing and bricklaying in the last leech pit. After finishing all the bricklaying we returned to our hotel.


Tuesday we were all together as a group to do some touring. We were told we had to be at the jail by 10AM sharp. We arrived at 9:50AM and sat around waiting patiently until 11:15AM when they told us we would not be allowed in for a tour:( Some say it was because something happened inside while others say that they thought we were from the village "Kanaka" and not the country Canada! We were brought to the women's holding cells/resource center instead. Jatan has 2 workers who will work with female offenders or ladies fleeing from or reporting abuse. It was a very cool multipurpose centre that combats violence against women and gives them a safe place to report abuse. Next we were off to the village of Piplantri ( Piplantri is the model village. It has a population of 5000 people and every home has a toilet, electricity and internet access, there are no diseases and no crime.  It's been a long project from a rich marble mine owner who is the village's mayor. They have planted 25 million trees and 250,000 aloe vera plants around the town. It was refreshing to see that a cleaner more disease free India is possible.

Day 13

In the morning we went back to our village and did the finishing touches on our child friendly toilets.We installed the slate roof, covered the leech pits with slate slabs and cement and put the door on:) In the afternoon we went to a village where Jatan is doing a campaign trying to stop violence against women. We got to put up posters and paint slogans on the walls all over the village. We attended the bi-monthly meeting of women and men who wanted to show support for the campaign. Over 100 people showed up and after a short speech in Hindi we grabbed posters and did a march of the village while everyone chanted. It was powerful to see so many women hungry for equality. We said our goodbyes (repeatedly to the children who didn't want us to leave) and made the 2 hour trek back to our hotel. Tomorrow we will be doing a couple more tours in the morning and the afternoon will be sad goodbyes to our villages, and to the Jatan workers who have been so wonderful and welcoming to us.

Talk to you soon!

Kyra Demski
DWC Participant
India, November 2012

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