The Border Tour – Day 3: Bhuj, Kachchh

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Bhuj and Ludiya

Matruchhaya Girls, Bhuj

Anjali Desai, a former IndiCorps Fellow currently working in Ahmedabad, arrived early this morning to join us for the rest of our Kachchh trip. Anup Patel, another former IndiCorps Fellow and Pankaj, currently working on different projects in Bhuj, joined us at Matruchhaya (shade of the mother) Kanya Vidyalaya, a school for approximately 3,000 girls, at 9am. The school was immaculate, and the girls exemplary. The principal, Jyoti Chandwani, proudly showed us their national prize-winning poster on environmentalism. The art teacher, a two-time national prize winner, will take on a similar project on friendship.

While John tried to get the school’s audio visual system to work, the girls entertained us with song:

When a bird flies, nothing blocks its way
The rain and the winds give it strength.

This moment, whether tomorrow comes or not
This moment, join me
Remember how short this life is and make the most of this moment.

Everything in this life is a miracle.
The smell of the flower
The sound of the flute
The rains, the river, this life
It’s all a miracle.

We never got to play our public service announcement, but had a nice interaction with the girls. These girls, and the girls at the next school, Shri Indrabai Girls High School, will deliver their letters to us when we return to Bhuj in two days after visits to some of the border villages in Kachchh.

Indrabai Girls High School, Bhuj

At Matruchhaya, we also met with the District Education Commissioner in charge of 264 schools in Kachchh, who promised to work on a school-to-school propagation of the letter writing campaign to all the schools in his district.

At 7pm we left for Ludiya, a place where Manav Sadhna has done extensive work post the 2001 earthquake, at times building entire new settlements like Gandhi Nu Gao, where we spent the night.

There are 16 families living in this small hamlet, one of 14 in Ludiya; a total population of about 2,300 people. “Why are you working there?” People asked of Jayeshbhai and Anarben. “It is 400 kilometers from Ahmedabad, there’s no electricity, no waterв…” Because one woman served them a plate of food with love.

Now, the village is electrified. (For three years, the outdoor solar lights that Manav Sadhna installed outside each house worked. Now, they merely buzz, nonfunctional from lack of maintenance.) There are four wells and check dams so the women and girls don’t have far to go to fetch water, and most of the women make a living selling their embroidery.

Going to the Well, Gandhi Nu Gao, Ludiya

As soon as we arrived in the village, we were ushered to dinner at Ravabhai and Coraben’s. Then, the men and the women split up to celebrate the upcoming marriage of one of the boys in the village. I understand that the men sat around and played cards. The women sat in groups and sang songs, competing with each other for the best song. The singing sounded very much like the Eastern European folk songs that have been made familiar in the San Francisco Bay Area by all-women groups like Kitka. Anjali, Maria, Jocelyn and I didn’t know the words to any songs all the way through (except Row, Row, Row Your Boat, which we had practiced on the bus in four parts), so after singing the chorus to “Going to the Chapel”, we resorted to singing Christmas songs. “Jingle Bells” did not go over very well (I guess we should have left out the “ha ha ha” part after “laughing all the way”), but the women loved “Silent Night.” We sang it twice, to include the name of the bride and groom in the song.

We all split up to sleep in separate households. Jayeshbhai, Pankaj, John, and Anup slept outside on string beds at Coraben’s compound. Maria and Jocelyn slept in the bhunga with Ravabhai’s mother, Anjali slept with another family, and Loveleen and I slept outside in the compound built for Manav Sadhna volunteers, under a million billion stars.


1 Response to “The Border Tour – Day 3: Bhuj, Kachchh”

  1. 1 jpjayshree9 July 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

    bahu j saru lagyu. pahela ni yad taza thai gai indirabai girls highschool ma hu abhyash kari chuki chhau atyare videsh ma raheva chhata pan maro desh maru bhuj mane yad apavva mate many many thanks. great job.

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