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Archive for May, 2007

Children’s rally

Rallies happen virtually on a daily basis and they invariably involve schoolchildren singing and marching through the village.

This rally is at a tsunami affected village where the problem of child labour and drop-outs is not as bad as other villages because of the influx of NGO’s post-tsunami.

The problem is still there though and the rallies will keep going until it is eradicated…

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barbers.jpgWhat a centre parting! And he’s actually serious about it too. It takes him 20mins every morning to sculpt it!

Indian barbers I have discovered are almost as good as Italian barbers. However, I think mine may have been the first moustache he has shaved.

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The state education officer was present at the meeting and the CRPF members took their turns to complain to her about school facilities, no playgrounds, lack of teachers, introduction of fees and general lack of infrastructure etc etc in the hope she can actually do something about it.

I’m not holding my breath - there appears to be a willingness but then she is a politician and she can hardly say no!

Also handed over a petition with the names of 29 camp children who have passed exams but need hostel accommodation to continue in government schools, hopefully she will be able to secure these places.

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Where my future lies

Subversively visited the temple in Chidambaram with Rajikala and Saritha, a volunteer - who needs written permission to take a day off - hence subversive.

While at the temple I was approached by a woman waving a silver stick at me, it turns out she was a dosi?? and wanted to read my palm. Never being one to turn down this kind of opportunity I gladly obliged.

It turns out I am going to live until I am 85, I’m the bad lad of the family but a good person who is good for society. However, I am also cunning and have a tendency to make people envious and jealous of what I do and what I have. There is also (will be) two women in my life one that I will love and one that I will marry. Great! The thought of a long sad life cheered me up no end.

Bear in mind though the dosi was speaking in Tamil to Saritha who is relaying this in slower more basic Tamil to Rajikala who is thinking in Malyamar and explaining to me in broken English what is being said!

Not sure if Indian Chinese whispers fortune telling has any better kind of future than I have….

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Is there a clash? Caste, class, power, the religious need to maintain a hierarchy. The fact Dalit’s exist at all.

Therefore is exploitation inherent within the culture, if so, then how can child labour ever be overcome?

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Monkey nuts

As we wandered around a couple of villages today, raising awareness about child rights, we came across a still smouldering burnt out thatched mudhut. I spent an hour with some women shelling monkey nuts, they earn 50 rupees per day and I wondered how a burnt out home could be overcome.

I’m not sure if our prayers at the temple later in the day did the trick.

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Lost a singer, gained a dancer

The sombre mood at camp after the snakebite was lifted today.

Why they found my uncle at a wedding Tamil dancing so hilarious I’ll never know though!

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The girl in blue in this picture went home to celebrate a festival at her uncles village last night. While she slept she was bitten by a cobra. She died in hospital.

She was a beautiful singer.

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Gram Panchayat Meeting

Gram Panchayats are local government bodies at the village level in India. This meeting was organised specifically by MVF to discuss school dropouts and child labour, the problems faced and to devise an action plan for re-enrolment. It is essentially about motivation and raising awareness of the importance of attending school among the local youth groups, women’s groups, various stakeholders and decision makers – a key aspect to the MVF campaign.

It is becoming clear that the education problem lies with the Education Department, not with parents. The mindset of the average agricultural labourer needs to be changed regarding the importance of education and the opportunities that can arise from it as well as the general well-being of the child and MVF are expert at doing this.

Once this has happened then parents are keen to send their child to school and there are many instances where huge sacrifices have been made by the parents to achieve this.

But the facilities and infrastructure need to be in place before parents can be told they must send their children to school. It is difficult to blame the parents if suitable schools and teachers are not in place or fees are being charged. Therefore the lead must come from Central Government first, followed by the State then the community and then parents.

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As Chelsea scored

This is what I was doing…

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Did You Know? The average human eats 8 spiders in their lifetime at night.