An area of India is considered rural when it contains a maximum population of 15,000 and agriculture is the main source of it’s economy. Many rural areas within India resemble the country sides and are commonly referred to as villages. Villages generally have very low populations and large spreads of agricultural planes.
Rural town in Jaipur called Bharatpur
Rural town in Jaipur called Bassi
My school Christ University Bangalore has a department of outreach called the Center for Social Action (CSA). The Center for Social Action’s mission is to help create support networks within marginalized communities. CSA aims to help those who are being affected by various oppressive forces within India. These forces include child rights, socio-economic development of women, youths and farmers, livelihood, community mobilization and environment/climate change issues. CSA is run by the student body, facility, full time developed professionals, local volunteers and community. The Center for Social Action has developed a self-help group, a school and overall funding towards programs that help unite a local village called Hoskote. Hoskote is located on the outskirts of Bangalore, about an hour and a half away from my apartment.
The field visit that we took to Hoskote was organized into three different activities: The school visit, the self help group seminar and the local home visit.
The Self-Help Group
Self Help groups are formed solely in rural villages within India. This self help group in Hoskote works to create jobs, independence, financial resources, and empowerment for women within rural communities. Self help groups are exclusively made up of women and only service the needs of women. Self help groups across India are usually formed by 15-30 women although the group in Hoskote is made up of around 40 women!
Members of Hoskote self-help group voluntarily save small sums of money and mutually agree to contribute these savings to a common fund. This common fund is used to meet emergency needs of self help group members within their village. For example, if a member is experiencing finical difficulty in coming up with money to send her child to school and put food on the table she could plea her case to her local self help group.
Case by case the amount of money lent to an individual varies. Depending on severity and reliability of repayment. Determining amount and eligibility is up to the members of the group as well. This self help group also offers various educational training, finical management programs and budgeting tools to their members within the village.
The School Visit
During our field visit in Hoskote we walked to the local primary school (1st to 4th grade) to spend time with the children during their half day break. We spent around 45 minutes playing various games with the children and getting to know what their life is like in this rural area. It was a blast, we played Kho-Kho, chain, and fire on the mountain.
*Kho-Kho* is played with around 12 players. Players are directed to assemble in a line where each person is facing opposite of one another. A chaser and the runner is chosen. Once the game begins the object is for the chaser to catch the runner. The chaser can tag another chaser who is sitting down in the line to catch the runner. The game goes on switching catchers until the runner is caught.
*Chain* is tag and chain morphed into one. I honestly, can’t quite remember the name of this game. I was confused about the rules and the overall objective! Rules: A runner and a catcher are chosen. Players join hands around runner and catcher forming a circle. The runner then tries to break out of the circle to run away from the catcher.
As team work in the circle goes you have the choice of letting the runner out of the circle or blocking them. Whether you let the runner out or block them you have to hold hands and maintain the circle. The truth is I’m not sure why you would block the runner or let them out. I eventually got the hang of it but this game still remains a mystery to me
*Fire on the Mountain* is played with around 12-18 players. This game is a lot like Simon Says.
A leader is chosen to shout “fire on the mountain” and call out group numbers. The leader then shouts “fire on the mountain” over and over until they decide on a number.
Players will run in a circle until the leaders call out a group number. The number the leader calls out will determine the quantity of people you’ll need in a group to stay in the game. For example, when the leader calls out “fire on the mountain! Six!” You must find a group with six people or you are out of the game! Fire on the Mountain goes on like this until there are two winner left standing!
Playing Fire on the Mountain
I had so much fun during the school visit. The kids only spoke Kannada and we only spoke English but there was a joyful sense of communication with these kids. They were so welcoming and happy that we came to spend time with them. The little girls were in awe over the girls in our group, they wanted to hold our hands and know more about us. They were so adorable!
The Home Visit
This home visit gave me us opportunity to meet with a local member of a self help group in her home. The kids from the school followed us into her home. Standing in her home was somewhat awkward for me and she was very shy about us being there as well. She hesitated to show us around and we hesitated to ask questions about her life. Eventually we walked around the kitchen and the visit came to and end. I don’t blame this women of whom I cannot name. I was weary about intruding on her private space of which she did not owe us a tour. She was weary about outsiders coming into her home. However, this moment brought an opportunity for bridges to be made between cultures and lessons that teach us how to create community.
Once the home visit came to an end we headed back to the school. When we arrived to the school the kids insisted I go down the slide before I left!