Saturday, July 29, 2006

Quick Update

Blogspot for the last two weeks has been banned in India post Mumbai train blasts. (the govt wanted a few sites taken down, blogspot couldnt take down a few, so they took down all of them). So the posts have been put up by my sis (yay sej).

Pictures coming soon.

What I'm up to now
Currently I am in Ahmedabad, one of the two largest cities in Gujarat. Presently, I'm sitting in on Indicorps Final Retreat for departing 05-06 Fellows, which has been an interesting experience given that these people have just wrapped up their year of service. Today, we learned how to make thread from cotton in an activity they set up at Vidyapeeth! I've also gotten the chance to meet and hang out with Sameer and Raj, which has been awesome. It's def interesting to meet them after "meeting them" through their blogs.

I am working at the Environmental Sanitation Institute (ESI) learning more about the state of sanitation in India, what is being done, how its being done and what needs to be done. ESI is an organization, based on Gandhian principles, that has been working to improve sanitation in India for over 30 years. The director, Shri Ishwarbhai Patel has been working in this field for over 4 decades and used to be called Mr. Toilet.

The campus of the institute and people are incredible. There is so much knowledge and expertise and every minute is a learning experience. Being at the institute has solidified my decision to focus on sanitation versus drinking water during my time in India. Countless are working on drinking water, which is incredibly important, but very few are doing sanitation work. There are countless social and cultural barriers that one faces in the field of sanitation that do not exist when talking about drinking water, after all we are talking about defecation.

There are already a variety of projects/tasks that I am working on and soon I'll begin to get some field experience in villages and visit different organization doing watsan (water/sanitation work). In addition to working at ESI, I'll be doing some work at Manav Sadhna (an NGO based out of the Gandhi Ashram- sister institution to ESI) that works in the slums of Ahmedabad, so I'll be getting exposure to village and slum conditions.

Every day, I'm meeting incredible people doing incredible work. I'm truly blessed to be able to work with such people. The stuff I learned in school is definetely coming in handy (especially microbio). Currently, I'm living with family friends, but at the end of this week, I'll be moving into residential quarters they have available for international volunteers.

I'm learning and living. There is much to be done, but that done in haste can lead to waste. I'm fortunate to come here without the constraint of time and I'm working to make the most of each moment to learn and experience as much as possible.

1 comment:

Guri said...

Hey Heena,

It's great to hear that you're at ESI and met Raj and Sameer. They're both awesome! Tell 'em I send my Hellos. :-)