Connecting local responses around the world
As part of the Global Learning Festival in Chennai, India we were invited to a field trip to visit a community that has been exposed to the SALT process. I was intrigued by the openness of a small village far far away from civilization. When working with the business sector I rarely get exposed to a community so up close and personal. The business sector talks on CSR (corporate social responsibility) and it seems some organizations take it seriously and for others it is a nice to have. Sometimes you wonder if what is written on the colorful business websites on giving back to communities is really true.
The visit to the village made me truly aware of how much more we have to contribute in the very near future. The village was informed that a group of stranger would visit. We, the strangers were probably equally excited and curios to see what would be happening during our short visit. We were warmly greeted by a community leader who brought our group to a daycare center (crèche). The center was for babies up to three years of age. Their little hands were waving and big eyes were looking at us through small window openings in the wall. How many times have they seen people from different countries? Probably never. So there was a high level of noise and excitement from all of them. After a heartfelt welcome we went outside and were listening to a smaller group of the village population.
Susanne from Switzerland, Maartje from Holland and Vic as the greatest, local translator were surrounded by many many cute children of all ages. Some of the girls were very curious to look at my little bracelets and ring. They showed off their own precious necklaces and earrings. After a while they lost all of their initial fear and touched my white nose and cheeks. We all appreciated the moment and became friends in no time without being able to speak a common language. Spoken language was not necessary.
The girl sitting next to me was very clever. She was in second grade showing a booklet with English questions to start a conversation with me. The questions were translated into her own local language; this was a very cool and effective way to communicate. She called me "my friend."
The mothers were there to share their stories on how hard they would work in the fields, send the children to school and make sure all was well coordinated. While the children went to school to fulfill their dreams after school there was not much offered in terms of job opportunities. The women were urging us to provide work for their young adults. They are willing to work but there is nothing to do for them in the small village. We came to listen to their stories and could certainly not provide them with any solutions to their problems at this point.
They were hopeful that one day they could utilize all of their strengths and knowledge to make their dreams to become true. Sometimes a transformation is not immediately followed by a dream. I wish for them on many more empowering experiences where a transformation into greener pastures is possible. Nandri