Eva, an amateur photographer and true Indiaphile, visited our Child-rights for Change programme in Viramgam, rural Ahmedabad. She photo-documentated the child-rights programme and, between the clicking, interacted with the children and development activists. Read her story below. Her pictures will follow shortly after!
Escaping from my busy Dutch life, I tried and found some peace and relaxation in vibrant India. A visit to the rural area around Ahmedabad really helped putting things into perspective. It provided me with the colorful and happy feeling that I was hoping for.
Starting out in Ahmedabad and leaving the urban life filled with malls, markets and many, many people and vehicles, we slowly got into the surprisingly green fields of the Viramgam district.
At Saath’s rural office we enjoyed a freshly prepared lunch and Ashraf starts explaining the Child Rights for Change* program that we are about to visit. After this lunch, we were welcomed in a primary school class. Twenty children were sitting in a semi circle and greeted us as we walked in. We took our seats and four girls performed a dance, telling us a story of their daily activities. As soon as they were finished dancing, a well organized conversation started, informing us how the program was working out. Four of the students have been picked to look after the presence of the others. Apparently, that seems to be a very effective way of keeping children in school in stead of working in the fields. Later that day, we learnt that the drop out percentage is under 1%. The program really works.
As soon as we were trying to leave, it was very difficult to find our way through the crowd of very enthusiastic children. Then, one of the children tells us how he really would like to see and touch American dollars – being the symbol of all foreign currencies. I did not have dollars, but I handed him a 2 Euro coin. The coin goes from one hand into another and the children awed when hearing the equivalent of this one coin in Rupees (being approx Rs. 120). I wonder what they are thinking. Is this western money and the world it represents something they are dreaming of? Or not? I hope their dreams are about improving their lives by little steps, starting by joining classes.
The most spectacular thing – for me – were the people living in the villages. Taking their portraits, I was stunned by the pride and honesty in their eyes. I am convinced that SAATH adds extra meaning to the existence of these people and reconfirms their natural pride. These people – in turn, are passing these values to their children. Experiencing a day like this made me feel humble and hopeful for future development of rural areas in India.
* Child-rights for Change is a programme implemented by Saath and funded by Save the Children. The programme aims to create awareness about child-labour in 120 villages in the blocks of Viramgam and Dholka, rural Ahmedabad.