I win the silly hat competition
It all happened during my trip to rural India. It took about a 3 hour drive north of Mumbai by bus towards our hotel. The next day we went for another one hour drive. We were transferred in a four wheel drive, half an hour of which was spent on a steep dirty track. After a grueling journey we arrived at a small square building. It seem to be located in the middle of nowhere.
However this trip to the tribal village school, would later on become the highlight of my trip to India. Although at that time it seemed like a tiresome errand. The experience that awaited me proved to be life changing.
The room with the view
The school occupied around 5 to 6 meters squares of space. It was a simple concrete building. Inside they had erected a beautifully decorated marquee. A group of children awaited our arrival. It was the elders who first came and gave a brief introduction to our B1G1 group. The presented us with turban headwear and a coconut. I was deeply honored to receive this head dress. It made me feel like royalty.
We were shown where the computer was placed and how the children were slowly building confidence to use it. Our group then started painting Disney cartoons on the walls outside the school room. We were later called to attend the official opening ceremony of the school.
The actual story
Initially the tribal communities lived in the productive lower lands. However they were slowly forced to retreat into the barren mountains where it was almost impossible to survive. Malnourishment was a daily issue and the pressure was simply to survive on a day-to-day basis. Education for the children was considered a luxury and something which they could only dream about. The people live in extreme poverty and the cycle continues
The simple act of a group of Westerners visiting their school building and painting Disney characters on the walls was enough to stimulate the interest of the children. They were excited to see these outsiders with their strange clothes. They were imply happy that we had given our time to come and visit the community.
During the ceremony, the women sang a song in their own language. This was followed by a great deal of cheeky laughter and banter. Dr. Satay explained to us the lyrics of the song. Since these women did not know how to read they didn’t understand which destination the bus was leaving for. This would confuse them and they would often get lost. This women wanted the tribal community to become more involved with the school and help educate them as well. This would then enable them to easily read and find their way about town.
After lunch we were given a tour of the village. It comprised of a small range along which a handful of small homes are located. These homes were made from mud. This was where the entire community lived.
Since I’ve been an avid farmer for quite a number of years, I had some ideas of helping the people grow organically. However I found it difficult too. I was amazed at their ability for survival in such a desert like terrain. They lead a simple life with their few farm animals and simple grain crops. I found it a privilege to meet this dignified crowd of people and sincerely hoped that the next generation would take a step forward to help them.
The next day we again visited a similar tribal School. The B1G1 group had visited it last year and installed the computer. It was a proud moment for us to see the children proudly standing up in the front and reciting their ABC’s.
The basis of strategic philanthropy
According to Dr Satya even the small amount of resources when correctly used for communities would make a great deal of difference. It would help the communities make a large amount of progress. The B1G1 team had simply founded the first dominos to start a chain reaction and make a whole lot of difference.
It was awe inspiring to see the amount of work being done by different organizations to help boost the community to achieve their aims. Being able to help people with what they wanted and delivering it to them was quiet satisfying.
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