Thursday, September 12, 2013

CRY UW Team in India - Latur Day 2

Saturday, September 7th - Latur, Day 2

Today’s focus was more on urban poverty projects (slums) that KMVAGVS supports.  The primary purpose of visiting the first slum was to focus on the poor conditions of the “anganwadi.” An anganwadi is a mid-day program meant to provide nourishment to children ages 0-6. Basic nutrients are given through bananas, lapsa (porridge), and occasionally eggs. This anganwadi was less than 50 square feet but was meant to hold over 20 children. Built with clay, cow dung, and bricks, this anganwadi was in poor condition due to seasonal rains (monsoons). Thanks to the intervention of KMVAGVS, the people of the slum have been empowered to stand up for their rights and have been sanctioned to build a new, more functional anganwadi.

At the next slum we visited, we were invited into the home of a member of the women’s empowerment group. The women explained to us the empty promises that political leaders make to them every year in hopes of securing their votes for the elections. Fortunately, this community was able to stand together to fight for its rights. So far they attained a block of toilets, some up-to-code housing units, and a water drainage system. They are fighting for much more so that their community can thrive, not just survive.
CRY UW with children of an anganwadi

We were then taken to meet the children’s group as they returned home from school. We learned that their strategies were tailored to their unique urban situation. A people forced to move here due to flooding in their village, they illegally occupy prime real estate that the government can whimsically take away from them at any moment. The children have rallied in the busy streets not only to spread awareness of their destitution to political leaders but also to gain visibility to other denizens of urban Latur, breaking down social barriers.

The day concluded with a surprise visit to a collective farming unit called Arnjkheda. This farming unit is a testament to the success of KMVAGVS’s interventions. We were welcomed to the village with a homegrown lunch from the people’s farm, as they were proud to share their accomplishments with us. After a yummy meal, the villagers described their struggle against the upper caste, who wanted to maintain their superiority over the farmers. The villagers, backed by KMVAGV, wanted to end this fight that had been going on for many generations so that their children would not have to continue facing the same struggles and instead focus on education. In fact, while the elders of the village remained in the farm to work for a living, their children were sent to a boarding school where their education can continue. KMVAGV has since stopped directly supporting Arnjkheda because of the farm’s self-reliance and sustainability as well as the fulfillment of the promise to their children.

All six of us had our own words to say about the visit to KMVAGVS and its projects. Tomorrow, we will share some of our quotes with you!

To learn more about KMVAGVS, visit the following links:

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