There was a lot of activity on the streets morning as the vote counting began. We saw people sitting outside watching the election on the TV and precautionary police gathered in public areas. Elections are a pretty big deal here. The voter turnout was a whopping 66%–an all time high. The winning party was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with candidate Narendra Modi for Prime Minister.
Today I finally got to meet Urja Shah, President of the Setco Foundation. We met with her and Salma Ben and told her about our project and its progress so far:
Now that we’ve spent a good two weeks collecting information on local culture, water, and health practices all around Kalol, we’ve decided to narrow our scope to one village. We found that it is really hard to interview people when we attract such a large crowd. We also feel that we haven’t had enough time to build up the trust to ask more personal questions. So that’s why, in the next two weeks, we want to focus on the village of Dolatpura.
We will start off next week by asking people of Dolatpura some more questions about drinking water and hygiene, just to get acquainted with more families in the village. We also will ask about daily activities to gauge when would be an appropriate time to visit the community. Then we will give a more formal introduction to our project: telling them exactly why we are there and what they should expect in the next few weeks. After that we will continue to visit and ask questions. Once we establish a relationship with some of the villagers we will ask if it would be okay for us to join in some of their daily activities such as washing dishes or preparing food.
I think it will be easier if we divide into small groups. Smaller groups seem to attract less attention and it would promote more one-on-one conversation. I know we will still have to face the language barrier, but we have been getting really good at communicating with body language. It would also be good if we divided our group by gender, so that people feel even more comfortable talking about personal health. I have been surprised by how welcoming and open to answering questions people have been. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to sit down with us.
A big part of our needs assessment is gauging how the community might react to a change in daily routine. This will become important when we implement our technology in the next visit. It will also be good to know how excited the community is about our project, which will drastically effect how easy it will be to build and maintain our implementation. This has really been a great learning experience and I can’t wait to get in touch with our team back home to talk about what we’ve found.