17 December 2012

Bandhwari Village: First Impression by Kiku

The village of Bandhawari is a very peaceful place I feel. It is located outside of Delhi city, and it is surrounded by dry sand and trees, which reminds me of one of South Australia’s villages. People in the village lead a slow life. It is totally different from New Delhi city. The Action Center for Transformation (ACT) is now helping them to create sustainable businesses for an income and educating their children.

ACT is working on two projects in the Bandhawari Village. One of them is a community library, which is still under construction, The library will be a important meeting place where the different castes Harijan and the Gujjars come and learn together. Another program is the empowerment and development of women lives. The women in village are taught the skill of making paper crafts, which they sell to earn some money. I like this project a lot. This project has two main objectives. One of them is that the women can make their money by selling their products and even by teaching their skills to someone. So now they can keep that skills and use that skills to start their own businesses. The second objective is about caring for the earth as they are making products from discarded things such as newspapers. They are recycling the papers. In these days, global warming is one of the biggest problems we are facing. So, to recycle papers is one of good ways to solve this problem. (I don’t know it is solving or not, but I am sure that recycling papers is a much better alternative than to use new pure papers instead because we do not have to cut down more trees).

The women in village can also go on to teach school kids about the problem and how we can live harmoniously with our land without destroying it. Through this, the women in the village are now involved in the solving of global problems and not just confined to their village. That’s so fabulous!

I was very surprised at the village because they had clean water and toilets. Before visiting the village, I heard that people in the village were under poverty line. However, their lives are actually much better than what I expected. They even serve us very nice chai. They were very warm and friendly. They were very happy and enjoyed their lives in the village.

First impression by Lee

First Impression of Bandhwari village

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. This is evident, as seen in the high growth rates of GDP every year, since 1991. While most parts of India may have experienced the effects of globalization and are rapidly modernizing, some parts of India, unfortunately, have yet to experience the benefits of modernization and India’s rapid economic growth. One obvious example to point out the limitations of India’s economic growth in improving the living conditions of all the citizens in India, is seen in the living conditions of Bandwhari village, which will be the main focus of our project.

Other than the obvious relatively poorer living conditions of Bandwhari village, as compared to other more developed parts of India, we also noticed that certain ‘universally accepted’  values, such as human rights and gender equality is still not visible, based on first hand observation of the lifestyles of the villagers. As we interviewed the women in the Bandwhari village, we realized that women perceive themselves as “property of other families”. Consequently, they often do not see the need of pursuing higher education and often has no say about their own marriage.

While caste discrimination may not be prevalent in this village, such traditional Indian beliefs of purity and pollution among different group of varnas have not yet being completely eliminated as seen in the lifestyle of the people in this village. This could be seen, based on how people of different varnas, live separately from each other and almost have no form of interactions with each other. For instance, the Harijans live in one corner of the village, while upper caste people live in other parts of the village. Outright discrimination by the upper caste to the lower caste may not be explicit, but the fact that different varna lives separately and Harijans having less privileges than upper caste (e.g. Harijans do not own much land and are generally poorer compared to upper caste) shows that the Indian traditional beliefs of purity and pollution is still an issue in the lives of the villagers.

Besides some form of discriminations among the people living in the Bandwhari village, some other logistical issues the villagers faced are:

1.) No vet doctors
2.) No proper latrine

On a positive note, the villagers were extremely welcoming to outsiders. Efforts were taken to make us feel at home, as seen in the tea they prepared for us and the great efforts by the villagers to make us feel at home. With that, we definitely have faith in making a social impact in the lives of villagers, in terms of improving their standards of living, as well as reducing some of the negative aspects of discrimination witnessed in this village.

13 December 2012

Bandhwari Village: First Impression by Ivan

"A few miles from Delhi it’s located a wonderful village name Bandhwari, a relaxing, small place, as most of the villages with a slower pace. It’s happening something wonderful, some women and their families, are changing their owns life with the help of a young NGO called ACT, this people has recovered their hopes and settled up new goals for a coming future, where no NGO will be supporting them, just them facing their very own destiny.

It’s surprising the difference between Delhi city and Bandhwari village,that is located few miles away from Delhi, but life conditions for their people its way different.

Act might be seen as an eye-opener for these women, who are producing some handcrafts products and incrementing incomes for their families, and gaining exposure, that eventually will broadness their minds and improve their way of living.

I personally believe that ACT work if conducted properly and women keep their perseverance on their working, it will be a general improvement for the village, and will change many people’s life nevertheless; it’s needed the commitment of all the people that works at the project to achieve their goals.

-Ivan "


Kusom: Economic Empowerment & Upliftment of Women

Picture 1: From left, Kiku (in blue) clarifying some information translated by Pritee, to the left of Kiku, provided by Kusom (lady in black headdress with red spots)

Returned to Bandhwari Village again yesterday and took the opportunity to get to know the women better by interviewing Kusom, one of the Master Trainers of hand-crafts under ACT's Women Livelihood Progam, a program where ACT trains women to create beautiful pieces of work for sale. The main interviewer was Kiku, from Japan, who is doing a case study on the women of Bandhwari Village.

In doing so, we hope to show how the lives of these women has changed -- from the economic(e.g. higher income) to the social aspect (e.g. a greater say in the decisions of the family) and how it has impacted their loved-ones. Watch out for our case study under "ACT Projects"!

We will be doing other case studies on other demographic groups as well! Look out for updates!

We have also embarked on an assignment to map out the facilities, such as wells and roads, of the village. We will post the map soon!

Picture 2: Interns, Florence and Ivan, taking photos of places to help with mapping, with Pritee, our tireless interpreter and friend, in the middle

Picture 3: Asking Sonia, a village community teacher, about some facilities of the place. From left, Pritee, Sonia, Kiku and Ivan

- Ivan, Kiku & Florence

7 December 2012

Bandhwari Village: First Impression by Florence

Picture 1: The women of Bandhwari Village who are under ACT's Women Livelihood Program

" Going to Bandhwari Village was amazing and an eye-opener as to how organizations like Action Center for Transformation (ACT) is changing lives in a sustainable way through community empowerment and transformation.

They are teaching these communities and their many generations to come how to fish and not provide them fish, unlike many other organizations.

The villagers were warm and welcoming. They were really open to ways in which they could improve their lives and their openness is one significant factor in ACT being able to carry out its transformation effectively.

- Florence "