Day 4: Ludiya, Khavada, and Tuga, Kachchh

March 2, 2006

Ludiya, Khavada and Tuga

John’s Birthday

Nikhil Pandya wrote a very nice article about our project and our visit to Nilpur in today’s Kachchh Mitra after interviewing John and me yesterday afternoon in Bhuj. After reading the article, the principal of S.S. Khavada High School, Binaben Arya, thought to herself: “Our school is on the border, why aren’t they coming here?” Then she received a phone call from S.K. Naker, one of 10 Additional District Inspectors in the District Education Office, telling her that our group was in fact, going to visit her school. It made her day!

S.S. Khavada High School is the only high school in the area, serving 4 primary schools up to the 10th standard. They have 96 students in the 8th to 10 standard and 7 staff members, but only 64 came to school today. Of the 64 students, 11 were girls.

99% of the population here is Muslim. The drop-out rate is very high, and students who attend madrassas are not allowed to go to the public schools. The census in 2000 recorded only 5% attendance in school. Part of the problem is that the students do not speak Gujarati, and the teachers sent to teach here do not speak Kachchhi. There is a high attrition rate among the teachers as well.

But the situation is improving. In the 2001 census, 32% attended primary school up to the 7th standard. Binaben (who is from Banares) and her husband, who runs Gandhi Seva Sangh, are both committed to social service in the area. Her father-in-law was a freedom fighter who also heeded Gandhiji’s call to return to the villages.

Khavada Primary Schools

We had intended to lead the high school students in a trash pickup procession to the primary schools, but ran out of time. We made a short visit to the Khavada Kumar (boys) Primary School and Khavada Kanya (girls) Primary School before heading to Tuga village and the Tuga Primary School. Manav Sadhna rebuilt one of the first schools here in honor of the President’s Award winning teacher, Ismail Master. 95% of the children in this village are educated, thanks to the efforts of the late Ismail Master.

There are four villages between Tuga and the border of Pakistan. Every house in this village has a relative in Pakistan.

Tuga Primary School

We had a special dinner at Kasimchacha’s in honor of John’s birthday. Jayeshbhai played a whole game of volleyball with a group of teachers in their residential compound in order to distract John and to give the rest of our group time to set and light the diyas that Anjali had prepared. (Jayeshbhai is a great volleyball player!) This is the first time that diyas have ever been lit in Kasimchacha’s. The “Happy B’day” in the picture below looks as though it has been written with rose petals, but Pankaj admitted that they used onion and potato peels.
Happy Bday

After dinner, we drove to Dhordo village, to spend some time with Mahemood and Hoorbai Mutwa, both award-winning artisans.

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