Hi guys – Sarah here! I’m super excited to be back in India with this team and to be able to start my mornings off with a fresh cup of chai. After a breakfast of poha and tea biscuits, we headed to the office to finish up prep work for our meeting with the sarpanch of six potential communities for our needs assessment. The Setco Foundation office was abuzz with people going to and returning from meetings – we were even whisked away from our prep work to be introduced to the Setco Foundation field team. The field team includes the community health workers, teachers, and workshop leaders who work on Setco’s Early Childhood Development and Women’s Empowerment initiatives. Though brief, it was great to meet all of them and see how many people make Setco Foundation’s work possible.
Afterwards, we headed to lunch where we stuffed ourselves with dal, bhindi (okra), rice, and roti before a short meeting with Mr. Sheth – the Setco Automotive chairman. We gave a brief update of the project’s progress since winter break and our experiences thus far on the trip, then we were off to our next meeting with the sarpanch of the six communities.
On the way to the meeting at the sarpanch’s home, we noticed the beautifully built homes along the street she lives on outside of Taravda. We received a warm welcome from the sarpanch and her family. It was refreshing to see a woman in a position of political power. Nisha and Salmaben did the majority of the talking – introducing our team to the sarpanch, and asking about the communities she oversees. We learned about some of the big problems the communities face, such as lack of uniform electrical distribution and drinking water, and that the most common professions include factory and agricultural work. None of which I understood at the time because the entire conversation was held in Gujarati, but I occupied myself with taking pictures of the team and notes on whatever snippets of the conversation were translated back into English.
After a lengthy discussion, the sarpanch took us for a walk to see her farmland, which was impressive in both size and agricultural method. They had a field of vine vegetables elevated off the ground and a drip irrigation system, which supposedly would eliminate any chance of you getting cancer if you ate them. We had a bit of excitement when they took us to see their variety of mango trees and spotted a large monkey running away from them into an adjacent field. But the real excitement was when they handed us a dozen freshly picked mangos to take with us when we left! We gratefully accepted them, and some salted mirchi to eat them with, before leaving.
Back at the office, we re-hydrated and cooled down before heading back to the guesthouse for some naps, Rajastani egg curry for dinner, and a recap of the days events. I’m looking forward to what the next few weeks bring with the needs assessment and our existing projects.