Amazing first week in the field

Wednesday, May 20th
Today was absolutely amazing. We were in the office where I was able to continue my research. Then we went to an anganwadi with only 5 children. A Setco staff and the women in charge of the anganwadi started yelling at each other but I had no idea what was going on so Nikita and I played and took pictures of the little girls. I found out from Riya after that the government worker had not been teaching the kids, kept a lot of the food for herself and she would leave early. It was the first time that I had seen a case of a worker not being fully committed and passionate about the work they do. It was sad to see how kids can be disadvantaged because the people in charge of them don’t care.
We left 10 minutes later and went to another anganwadi in Katol. It was the same one that had given us food on Tuesday. All of the workers there were so welcoming and caring towards the children. I don’t know what happened but they said something about getting food for us from one of the girl’s houses. So Nikita and I stood up and walked out with a crowd of girls, all of us holding hands. Some of them showed us their homes and introduced us to their families. Then they all ran back and a health worker showed us her home and served us curry. Later she brought us to two Hindu temples on the roadside. When we got back to the anganwadi there were 4 other plates of food for us and they were all delicious (two types of roti, a vegetable, and raw mango). We finished eating and then joined in the class full of eager girls with huge smiles on their faces.

Thursday, May 21st
Today was a long day. In the morning we went to SETCO’s main anganwadi where Nikita gave her first judo class to the children. It was really hard because there were about 30 kids ages one to six. I saw a lot how the little girls would help their baby siblings when it was time to play games or eat. In that way, I feel like children are a lot more mature here. When you have more responsibilities at such a young age you are forced to mature. We ended up playing games and singing songs and didn’t do any judo since they were too young. But they seemed to enjoy it a lot.
After planning a bit in the office and eating lunch in the factory we went back to the main anganwadi. This week they had implemented their first summer camp where girls and women came for 4 days and learned different things like how to do hair, mehendi and other crafts. Today the president of the foundation came from Mumbai so they got all the girls from the villages and they sang songs and danced. When they got to me I didn’t know what to sing so I just sang Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer! After, each girl got a certificate for completing the camp and certain girls and women said a public thank you to Urja for making it possible for them to learn new skills that week and for everything else SETCO has done for them.
It has been explained to me on various occasions how the girls get married early and then their future is up to the family of the husband. A lot of times the families don’t let the girls continue their studies. One of the activities we do with the girls is for them to come up with hero type figures in their life. One girl who looked about 16 said that she was very happy because she is engaged and the boy told her that after they get married she can continue school. I thought about how lucky that was for her and wondered what it takes for a boy and his family to be okay with this. And will this mentality change soon?

I am writing this on my phone as we drive home and I just looked up to see cows in the street and a huge crowd of motorcycles waiting for them to pass. Once again.. The cow thing here surprises me every time.
Saturday, May 23rd
Yesterday was my last day of visiting the anganwadis and meeting all of the girls. I miss them already! Especially the girls in Katol who had brought us around to all of their houses. Nikita told me they asked for sister Ariana today which made me really happy but also sad because I won’t be attending the sessions as much.
This morning I had my meeting with Urja (the president of the NGO) and the three head local staff here in the office. I am so glad Urja was here so that she could look over my plan and so that the whole team could be on the same page (without having misunderstandings because of the language barrier). Half the time she was speaking to the staff in Hindi so that everyone could understand what was going on and the other half in English. She is such an amazingly smart women. It was very inspiring.
Now I have to get to work! Today I did lit review in the office on how to define indicators for women’s empowerment and how to evaluate empowerment in a rural area. Hopefully my questionnaire and schedule will be finalized by Monday and Wednesday I will start my work in the field conducting interviews!

Monday, May 25th:
Yesterday I did office work all day and I got a lot done. I just got to the office and it looks like I wont be making my schedule or finalizing my questionnaire because some of the staff are not here today. I know things don’t always go as planned so I am just going to keep researching and hopefully Wednesday we can finalize things.

IMG_6239Cows everywhere!Women dancing during workshopDancing with girls IMG_5961IMG_5695 Handicraft made by girls in anganwadis

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About Ariana Paredes-Vincent

Ariana Paredes-Vincent is a Junior majoring in International Studies in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Ariana is interested in pursuing a career working in NGO settings and international development. Ariana is half-Peruvian and has volunteered with a variety of NGOs in Peru and cofounded Project Opportunity, an organization that supports youth transitioning out of institutionalized care.

2 thoughts on “Amazing first week in the field

  1. It sounds like your time spent in the local anganwadis has been extremely rewarding! I am glad that you have had the opportunity to work on your independent research project with SETCO! Congratulations on completing the evaluations – I know how time consuming that can be! I cannot wait to hear more and I love your photos!


  2. What a journey you’re having so far! The realizations around the conditions for the children, must be heartbreaking and frustrating at times. It seems like you’re learning a lot and getting ready to do some interesting work. I’m loving your photos!!


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