A few days ago I mentioned the temple trustees weren’t allowing the village school to build a bathroom and were also thinking about knocking down the school. I wanted to find out more; the kids that Aahana will be working with in the future will be coming from this school. When I went to the village school for the second time today, the teachers and principle showed us the damaged walls and ceilings. I know how that school is old because my dad went to it.
The teachers told us about the check they received from the government to rebuild the classrooms as well as the bathroom. According to the school teachers and principle, there has been a case between the temple trustees and the government because the temple won’t allow them to rebuild the school on their land.
Above are pictures of the school's ceiling. Just last week a part of the ceiling landed on one of the teachers. They’ve stopped using more than half the classrooms, afraid that the ceiling will collapse on the kids. I kept thinking, if this was America, the trustees of this land would have no choice but to give that part of the land up, especially since it’s putting the kids in danger.
We went to the temple and asked to talk to Jayantibhai, the president of the trustees. He wasn’t there, but I asked a few questions to two of the men (also trustees) who were in the office. My dad’s neighbor, an elderly man and temple trustee (who is also distantly related to me) came with us. I felt like they were beating around the bush with every answer they gave me. The elderly man, who I call Dada (grandfather), wanted the school to be there and he was asking the other trustees the same exact thing that I wanted to know. Dada also told me that it isn’t in the trustees’ hands, it’s solely the president of the trustees who has been making these decisions and the other trustees have no power.
The new temple they're building
As we were leaving the area around the temple, there was some type of building being built. I asked, “Dada, what’s this they’re building?” He said, “They’re building a temple for Lord Rama”. I was dumbfounded and it took me a minute to get it straight in my head: So they’re building a whole new temple on the land, but not willing to give the land to rebuild a collapsing school? Dada said there needs to be change, but nobody is willing to actually step in.
One of the trustees who was already sitting in the office said something to me that hasn’t left me since then. He said, “None of the Patel kids are here…they’re all going to school outside [of the village]…those other kids in the school aren’t going to do anything…” I knew what he meant, he meant what a lot of people told me when I started visiting the Ravars. Why are you trying to help them? Those kids aren’t going to go to school, and if they do, they’re not going to do anything with it. I had no words at the time and now looking back, feel like I should have said something.
Manisha, Paru, Kinjal, Puja…These are a few of the names of the girls I know who want (and their parents support them) to be educated straight through college. Even though it isn’t, I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure they have the education they need. I found a really good quote the other day and thought it described Aahana’s mission really well: Do not educate children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up, they’ll know the value of things, not the price.
Parul holding a baby
Puja and Manisha
I ended this evening by going somewhere I’ve wanted to go for days. For days, as I was leaving the village I was able to see around three to four makeshift tents through the temple gate. I had never seen them before and wondered who those people were. Today I finally had the opportunity to go there and take some pictures of the people who lived in those tents. They were four families who came from Rajasthan (a state north of India) to work on making a new road throughout our village. Building a road here isn’t what I thought. The men manually dig into the ground while rocks are ground in machines. The cement is made by these laboring workers who get paid close to nothing for their day’s work. I took a few photos of them and thought I'd share some of them.
As the first Aahana trip nears to an end, we would like to thank everybody for their continuous love. If you are interested in working with Aahana click on the Get Involved tab and share why you’re interested.
Thanks for reading! :)
One of the girls from Rajasthan. She's around 19 or 20 years old