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Shattered Preceptions

One month down, two more to go! Any thoughts I’ve had about this wonderfully, diverse country have all been challenged, changed, redirected and shattered. I knew the western perspective had some misconceptions about India but I’m now realizing just how many. This week I had the chance to get to know two girls who came from Mumbai who just joined as part of the communications team. We spoke on many things together regarding Indian traditions, customs and the not so simple ways of life. From an outsider’s view women staying at home and working; cooking and cleaning and watching after the children is simple. Yes, the acts in and of itself may be simple but take a deeper look and there are many rules and customs to abide by. For example, when there are two bothers the oldest brother and the youngest brother’s wife aren’t allowed to have a relationship, at all. They can’t talk or see each other. When he enters the house he either coughs or calls to someone in order to warn her of his entrance so she’ll leave the room. In family pictures he’ll stand in the back and she’ll be brought in at the end, veiled and be ushered out first thing. The reason for this is to keep order in the joint family. If they don’t have a relationship it’s easier to give and take orders.

I have learned so incredibly much through these wonderful ladies and through conducting interviews with Team Balika members. This week I got to visit a couple more schools where the students adorably sang and danced for us and went to a temple opening festival. At the festival, was mass amounts of food for the whole village to be fed but still there were dividers set up for the division of the different castes to eat behind. In some ways there is so much progress and in other areas the old traditions have such a tight hold still. Traditions are great in order to not lose the base culture but some traditions are very harsh in discrimination and dividing the people.

Chatting with the leader of the village at the temple ceremony

Chatting with the leader of the village at the temple ceremony

Happy face waving goodbye

Happy faces waving goodbye at a girl’s hostel

The quote on the bottom says, "Woman today don't know how to pray but the speak English." We pulled him over because are proud of this fact!

The quote on the bottom says, “Woman today don’t know how to pray but the speak English.” We pulled him over because are proud of this fact!

The more people I meet, the more my mind is filled with knowledge and history. Watching the young girls in the hostel sing and dance, with an extra shimmer in their eyes because they don’t have to go back to a home where they may have to work lots or abuse takes place was remarkable. Hearing them giggle and call after me “Didi, Didi,” (Big Sister) is why I’m here; to help make this whole world attainable to them. If Educate Girls can enroll just one more girl or convince one more father to let his daughter study past the age of 15 then our work here is done. Fighting for the cause. ~Anna

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2 thoughts on “Shattered Preceptions”

  1. Wow, very interesting about the tradition of the older brother and his sister in law. Its tough for me to wrap my head around but I also realize its a practiced way of keeping order within the family. Though I feel this would be a tiring ritual for the younger wife. I greatly admire the work you are doing and that organization sounds amazing. What are some of the points they use when convincing fathers to let their daughters continue education? From my brief experience in India, it seemed convincing fathers of further education was a pretty tough sell.

    • Anna Ralston on March 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm said:

      It is super hard and frustrating to get the fathers on board. Through being involved Team Balika get a certificate and some vocational trainings like computers and we’re working on getting sewing available. Teaching is considered one of the best professions (above doctor’s an lawyers) so the fact that they get first hand teaching experience is huge and we can use as leverage as working towards their futures. We’re also working towards getting a fund to pay for some of their schooling if they want to go for higher education. This will be very helpful in convincing families. It’s a continuous struggle because it’s the mindset that’s been in place for centuries but it’s being manipulated.

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