Hey everyone, it’s Rachel. We started the day off with some delicious breakfast. I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, but after some sleep and quality cooking from Harishbhai’s kitchen, I was pretty ready for the day. We headed down to the car, which arrived later than we planned and without our usual driver.
We arrived at the office to discover that our 9am meeting with the sarpanch of Barola had to be rescheduled due to a wedding. Instead, Rajeshbhai was able to contact another panchayat member who said that he could meet with us that afternoon. Since we couldn’t meet the sarpanch, this meant our community meeting, where we were hoping to explain our purpose to as many people as possible at one time, would also be put on hold, but we were still going to hold focus group discussions that day in Motu faliya.
We readjusted our schedule to include these changes, gathered materials for a community mapping exercise, and set out at 11am for Barola. Everyone was outside when we arrived, filling containers with water from hoses that came out of the ground in front of each house. Namrataben, an anganwadi employee who we met during our last visit, greeted us as we got out of the car. We learned from her that people needed to gather water from the hoses immediately because it only comes twice a day.
As people finished their water storage tasks, individuals began arriving at the home of Pramilaben, who was gracious enough to host us. After a crowd of about two dozen adults had gathered, Rajeshbai introduced us and the work that we hope to carry out during our trip. We then divided the men and women, with the women staying at Pramilaben’s and the men moving across the street.
Once we were separated, we introduced ourselves individually and learned the names of the women present. Nisha asked some broad questions to get people thinking about their daily habits and the resources in their community. We learned about their frustrations with access to drinking water and health care. Then we transitioned into our mapping activity, which had the women draw their faliya and landmarks such as their local school and anganwadi. Once the map was complete, we asked questions like what their favorite and least favorite places were. We learned a lot about where things are located in Barola as well as additional problems, including the lack of sanitation infrastructure.
As the mapping activity drew to a close, Pramilaben, her daughter, and a few other women offered to take us on a tour. We saw not only their homes, but also important resources including toilets and a newly installed water hand pump. When we returned to Pramilaben’s, we were treated to a wonderful glass of pop.
Kabir and Rajeshbhai came over and informed us that a panchayat member was available to meet with us immediately. We agreed and had a conversation about our plans, which was well-received and followed by an invitation to a wedding the next day (for “cultural learning” purposes, of course).
We headed back to the office, grabbed lunch, and dug into stove plans. Nisha and I went with Vidhi to pay Sumitraben a visit. We wanted to chat with her and make sure that she was comfortable with our plans for her to teach others how to build the stove. She indicated that she did want to teach people, even if it meant leaving Dolatpura for a few hours. While we were there, we said “hi” to Alpa and Kusum. Back at the office, we wrapped up stove discussions, setting dates for two visits to Medapur to conduct a presentation on smoke inhalation and a training session for new stove builders.
Vidhi joined us for the drive back to Baroda. When we got home, I took a quick shower while Sarah took some professional headshots of Kabir on the balcony. After some refreshing chai, we piled into Kabir’s room to debrief the focus groups. We broke for dinner and then ended the night by drafting problem statements based on the information from the focus groups. It was a long, productive day.