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Hilary, who is the translator in our team, gave a talk about Akshy Association last week to a group of british ladies during the monthly reunión in Torre del Mar, Málaga.
Hilary has all our admiration for her commitment to spread the work of Akshy and for her most valuable collaboration as translator since the beginning of the Association.
These are her words:
“I first introduced Raquel and AKSHY from the start of the Association, then went on to describe the overall social and caste situtation of the dalits in India, especially in rural areas: the dwellings, the lack of work, the food, the lack of clean water, of sanitation, of health care, education, etc, especially noting the dalits own personal lack of self-esteem and human dignity, a consec¡quence of the treatment imposed upon them by higher castes. Afterwards I described how Raquel, with thte help of generous benefactors and friends, has, over the past ten years, worked very hard to improve their standard of living in 3 main areas:
- Education of the children: by building our Akshay Educational Centre and also by opening 2 other primary schools in dalit villages. I explained that Akshy now has students, their expenses still covered by the Association, who continue their studies at higher levels. Many of the primary school children have sponsors who exchange letters, photos, etc. with them; the children are delighted when letters arrive and share this pleasure with their classmates. I mentioned also the emphasis that Akshy gives to the education of girls, tomorrow’s mothers who if they have had schooling will most probably send their children to school too.
- Empowerment of Women; classes for mothers and young girls such as sewing, henna dyening, learning to sign their names for important documents, etc. Akshy grants microcredits in certain cases so these women can earn a little money to help in the meagre familiy economies. Talks are also held on vital subjects such as infant hygiene, mesntruation, the disadvantages of child marriages, etc.
- Special Attention is given to the elderly, especially lonely widows and the disabled: their housing is repaired where necessary, food provided regularly, as well as help being given with regard to applications for pensions and other benefits, since these people are completely and utterly illiterate.
I then described briefly how the Association depends on its benefactors and the different manners of donating- a monthly amount, a one-time donation, a group amount, etc, as well as the cooperation of its memebers in publicising Akshy and helping to find new members.
I completed the talk by saying that Akshy Association is small but works hard and is grateful to its helpers for all their assistance. AKSHY agrees with Mother Theresas’s words, “We are a drop in the ocean, but what would the ocean be without its drops?”
The ladies applauded and thanked her for making them more aware of the terrible situtation lived and suffered by these people.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH HILARY!
Last March from the 5th to the 7th, the University of Santiago de Compostela held a series of talks on “The Poor Countries and the Countries Causing Their Poverty”, organized by the students of the Medical Faculty, Meiga U.S.C.
These sessions were at the same time entertaining and informative for students although any other person interested in the subject could attend by purchasing a ticket for a small sum, the proceeds being donated to AKSHY.
Videos of Akshy´s work were shown and leaflets distributed so our Association could be made known.
With this post on our blog, we wish to THANK all members of Meiga USC for organizing these sessions and helping our Association, as well as congratulating them for the interesting talks and events held in their Faculty. A special THANK YOU goes to Paula for becoming interested in our project and making it known among her fellow students.
With the funds collected during this event we were able to buy text books for Class III for the new academic year 2018/2019 which commences in India in the month of April, as well as school materials for the Akshay School.
AGAIN, VERY MANY THANKS!
This month of April Roger came to lend a hand as a volunteer in our Akshay Educational Centre. He stayed for 4 weeks during which there was an interesting cultural exchange between him, our pupils and the teachers.
Roger was very keen to help in spite of the heat and difficult conditions. He gave a computer course to a group of pupils of from 10 to 17 years of age. The children appreciated it very much as they don´t have an opportunity to learn computer practice anywhere else.
He also helped in the office with computer data for the staff. Besides this he did some correcting for teachers and even had time to hold two workshops for the little ones – one making postcards and the other showing them how to paint ladybirds on stones they collected. The children loved these workshops!
Here in our blog we wish to show Roger how grateful we are for offering his time to the children of our Association. They are now missing him so much!
THANK YOU ROGER
We hope you have a happy trip home and that your experience in our Centre has been a positive one.
27 New boys and girls with ages between 4 and 5 have happily started classes in our Akshay School.
Admission to the school was accepted on only one day as there were too many applications. In just a few hours, more than 120 Mums and Dads with their children came to apply.
The selection was difficult as almost all the the applicants were from very poor families. We didn´t have many vacancies but they all wanted their children to come to our school. We decided to accept 50% boys and 50% girls and take in those who didn´t already have children in our school. In this way we gave them an opportunity to have at least one child in the family who can read and write. Besides giving them schooling, the children have many other benefits such as clothes, blankets, medical care, vaccinations, etc.
The children are from three of the villages where we work: Amwan, Amwan Colony and Nautapur. All of them live in houses made of mud and straw with only one room or two. Their parents work in the fields but in all cases on land belonging to others as they have no land of their own.
We urgently need sponsors for these children so we can provide uniforms, school materials, teachers´ salaries, etc. If you could please pass on this note among your friends and families, we would be very grateful.
With 20 euros per month in this part of the world we can educate boys and girls, so giving them the opportunity to live their childhood without having to work, a fact which changes their life entirely. With education as their tool, they can in time work to leave behind the misery in which they live and also become aware of their own rights.
Thanks you very much for reading this and helping us to circulate it.
On 6th March a workshop of Awareness Personal Hygiene for Girls sponsored by Rotary Club Uruvella took place in Akshay Educational Centre (Amwan, Bodhgaya).
Women of our sewing school prepared a “menstruation hygiene kit” which contained, the sanitary napkins made out of cloth, panties, soap, all in and an attractive bag for each of the 50 girls who came to the talk.
The workshop was runned by Guriya Devi and Mala Devi but also the ladies of Rotary Club kindly participated in the talk. The talk was accompanied by a video and later different issues arouse and discussion took place of the different problems the girls have to face.
These are the facts about Menstruation in rural India which you can read about in the following lines and the reason why this workshop has taken place to create awareness among the girls.
We are very grateful to all rotarians of Rotary Club Uruvella for sponsoring the workshop and for participating in this event.
Menstruation in rural India:
When it comes to menstruation the gulf between rural and urban women broadens considerably. Menstruation is a subject which is not discussed freely by teachers and mothers, but in urban area the internet and more awareness and education conversations around menstruation have become less inhibited. However, when it comes to rural areas we see a complete contrast. With the lack of resources, education and awareness about personal hygiene, women don’t have any conversation around menstruation.
Given the taboos surrounding it, it is often seen as dirty and unpleasant and it never gets the attention it needs.
According to the latest National Family Health Survey (2015/2016) report the usage of sanitary napkins among indian women is 48,5 % in rural areas. Although there has been an increase in the number of rural women using sanitary napkins the number of girls missing school due to menstrual pain has not gone down.
Most of the women in rural areas are using unhygienic products. There is a lot of silence on the subject. There are many women who have never seen or touched a sanitary napkin in their lives. This is due to:
Lack of awareness of hygiene, most women are not aware of the concept of menstrual hygiene. There is so much stigma around periods being dirty that women choose to use dirty cloth repeatedly.
Lack of availability, in most rural areas sanitary napkins are not available for several kilometres or the shops are guarded by men which makes the transaction very difficult for rural women
Lack of affordability, in some areas there is a lack of good quality affordable products.
Menstruation for most women is accompanied with pain and discomfort and with the lack of awareness and access to santitary napkins it becomes very difficult for grils to go to school and many tend to drop out.
23% grils drop out of school when they start menstruating due lack of affordability of menstrual hygiene products. This drives to early child marriage and makes them lose the opportunity to be educated.
We hope to have contributed to the awareness in hygiene for girls and hope to be able to conduct some more workshops for more girls.
Thank you Rotary Club
THE “CONTRASTS OF INDIA” VISIT
A group of 18 men and women sponsors and others from different parts of Spain interested in our AKSHY projects joined our trip entitled “Contrasts of India”.
The first part of the journey was devoted to visiting those parts of the country which all travel agents include – the Monumental India – so that through India´s history and people, their idiosyncrasies and contradictions can be understood.
Visits were made to cities such as the capital, Delhi, the city of Jaipur so full of history, the Amber fort and the holy city of Benarés on the banks of the River Ganges, in this way covering some of the best known and most representative parts of the country.
The second part of the tour was devoted to learning more about the “other India”, the parts never included in travel brochures, rural India where most people live, the India where AKSHY works via its projects in Bodhgaya, the city of Buddha´s illumination only visited by Buddhist pilgrims.
This second part was perhaps the most eagerly awaited by the group as they were to have the opportunity to meet their own “godchildren”, all the schoolchildren and also see the AKSHY projects at first hand, see how the funds collected are used and how so much can be done with the help of us all.
The arrival of the group at our AKSHAY EDUCATIONAL CENTRE was excitedly awaited and hoped for; the children and the teachers had been looking forward to this moment for a long time. There were hugs, tears, smiles and laughter when they all came together, so much emotion. There was time enough too for interaction with the children in their classes, with songs, dances and games. They were also offered help in tinting with henna thanks to some past pupils who had done our course on henna in our programme for women. They were able to visit 3 villages where we work on different projects and in all of them were welcomed with great affection. The group also visited the houses of the children and met their families.
On the last day in the AKSHAY EDUCATIONAL CENTRE a cultural performance was offered for our guests – through the dances and songs we wished to thank them for their visit, for having come from so far to learn about our AKSHY projects. During this event to which parents were also invited, we made it an opportunity for the women to speak on their experience in our programmes such as the microcredit project, workshops, talks on the importance of education, etc., at the same time sending out a message to the rest of the population on the importance of empowerment of the woman and the abolition of child marriages.
We are grateful to every single one of those who took part in this trip for giving us the chance to show you our projects, to draw you all nearer to the reality lived by many children and their families in Bihar and in this way place great importance on your help in passing a first hand message as witnesses to the work being done here.
We will remember you always with much affection and hope to see you here again sometime!
From Amwan we send you big hugs from all of us. Until next time!
Dhanyavaad (Thank you)
Here are a few of the thousands of photos you all took……