India 2012Posted: December 27, 2012
Post by David Keifert
Never have I received such a warm welcome then when our 2 vehicle, 9 passenger caravan turned the corner to the charming village named Saraiya. The Muslims first performed their welcome ritual by placing fresh flower leis around our necks. The Hindus burned a substance, then the smoke traveled across us. Then they placed a dark red powder clay bindi dot on our foreheads as a blessing.
After reaching the community center the crowd had increased, with so many questions and concerns in their minds. One woman requested that we freshen up before they bombard us. However, no one left the community center.
Many people came to us throughout the week, some having traveled from very far, because they had heard we were going to be at the community center. Most came with health related questions, some had been lied to by doctors in the big cities and had been prescribed quasi-medications. On the train we rode past some slums that had heaps of garbage with smoke coming out of a makeshift chimney.
The people in Saraiya are mostly farmers and can live off of the land, the men bring their product to market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The women primarily care for their family and perform other domestic duties. I don’t know at what point, but I realized my handwashing campaign was severely inadequate to address the current health issues the people were bringing to our attention, but I remind myself it’s just a start and handwashing with soap will prevent many illnesses and diseases.
The children were very receptive to my message, eager for the knowledge and Glogerm experience. We covered the different types of bad-germs and how they enter our bodies and disrupt homeostasis. We played life-skill related games to encourage and educate children, so that the children can support each other we applauded after everyone’s turn. On the day I did laundry behind the community center, it gathered such a crowd of kids that we had to play some more games.
Flies are very prevalent here so we attempted to rig a one liter bottle into a fly trap, which wasn’t very successful. We explained that flies can land in animal/human feces and then land on us or our food and can transfer bad germs. I asked for some local help in putting up some tippy taps around the village in key locations to encourage hand washing with soap.
Upon returning SUM1 has been meeting regularly to discuss our next move in India, things that went well and still need to be done in Saraiya also where we want to start future projects. We learned quite a lot from this trip and have adaptations to implement for our next trip.