From Dabar 14th July 2014
Today we would like to report on how things are going with the women’s group and the tailoring classes we run at the school.
But first I would like to tell you some news about the village. July should mark the start of monsoon, the rainy season. It is an important time for everybody here because it is vital to us having a successful harvest. In addition, the underground water supply and the ponds have to be replenished because it is from there we get our main water supply for the rest of the year.
Unfortunately we are still waiting for some significant rainfall and so all agriculture work has been stalled. We had distributed seed among ourselves and planted it so that now green shoots have begun to appear. Indeed, at the moment the landscape certainly looks very green. But without any substantial rainfall very soon, in the next three or four days, the young plants will begin to wither and die. This will have very serious consequences for this, our main harvest. We are all still very much hoping for rain
A few days ago in our village, in Upper Dabar, the people arranged a Kirtan performance [Kirtan are local traditional spiritual songs whose roots go back to ancient times]. And a few days later the people in Lower Dabar arranged their own Kirtan performance. Both performances ran continuously over three days.
We perform this type of spiritual ritual in the hope of a successful harvest and a good rainy season. Many people will sacrifice a goat and mark the occasion with a celebratory Puja in honour of the village god [Ours is the god of the tree], again hoping for plenty of rain and a productive harvest.
Traditionally it is this time of year that many marriage ceremonies take place. This year in our village we celebrated at six marriages
Our school is quietly going on as normal. Yet this is for us the most significant project in terms of numbers of staff involved and the number of people (the children) who benefit directly. Today we held a meeting at the school with all the teaching staff to discuss our work schedules and other school related matters. We also discussed what improvements we could make and how we could further develop the school.
Today, as we do twice each month, we distributed two copybooks and a pencil to each child. We are also carrying out a survey of the parents to get their feedback and find out about what problems they may be having.
Women’s Group Business Venture and Tailoring Class
Cherie from Australia started this business with a few women from the village and it is now running well. The women are making women’s personal items such as pads and panty liners. They also make flags intended to used at festivals, fairs and Puja. Although this business is not related to Prabhatalloi, it does indirectly help some of those women who have trained at the PA Foundation sewing and tailoring classes.
The women earn wages and we receive income from selling the goods wholesale, to be sold on retail in Australia, We are also receiving a percentage of the profits made from these sales. Cherie also pays us rent for using workshop space at the school.
In local villages most of the women use cloths for their period time. Too often they do not use clean cloths or they wash them in dirty water. Because of this they run a high risk of infection. They are also shy about discussing personal health problems. So in addition to the pads we send to Australia, our female staff speak with the village women to make them aware of the issue and distribute these pads among them for free.
We are very thankful to Cherie for her initiative and encouragement. This project really contribute here to people’s confidence and their hopes of making a better.
Sometimes after class or work the girls relax and enjoy the school area before they go off home. They sit about chatting for a while and here we see some of them giving poses for photographs.
Sewing and Tailoring
Our Sewing and Tailoring classes have been running since the beginning of PA Foundation. It was Shivanii Di from Australia who started them. At first there were only four or five students taking part, who met up every week at Chaina’s house. We had no sewing machines, only needles, thread and waste cloth. But now, we have about seventy or eighty children and young women learning about sewing and tailoring. It’s been a long journey but, if you considered where we began four years ago, you can appreciate what a great success this project is turning out to be.
Here are a few photos from both the past and present to refresh the memory.