Saturday, July 7, 2012

Getting to the Heart of Field Work

I went out into the field again today...I left DSK campus at 8:45a.m. and returned at 8p.m. 
It was an especially long day...but every part of the day reaffirmed my passion for this work. 
The last day I spent in the field was documenting environmental issues, today I saw the human side of the issues we work with here at Navsarjan.

It started with a visit to meet the survivor of gang rape...She was 11, though she didn't look older then 8. On June 28th three men saw her walking from her school to the well to fetch some water. They offered her 20 rupees (28 cents) to sweep their house. Once she was inside, one of the men held her arms, another her legs, while the third had his way with her...then they switched positions until all three had their chance with her. They gave her 200 rupees (less than 4 dollars) not to tell anyone.
Have unconscious and profusely bleeding, she was too scared and traumatized to tell her family what happened. It wasn't until the next day, after she visited the doctor, that her parents found out she had been raped and they were able to file a police report. 

I sat in the room as Manjula and four of Navsarjan's field workers discussed the case with the girl's family. They were also speaking in Gujarati, but it wasn't hard to get the gist of what they were saying. The entire time they were talking I was watching the little girl hold back tears. She was on full time bed rest being still weak from the experience and healing from the injuries they had caused her.

My heart was breaking...I wanted so badly to talk to this girl... tell her it was all going to be ok...that the people I was working with were going to make sure something was done. But I didn't have the words, so I just sat there until they were finished talking. Manjula started showing the little girl some pictures on her phone, and the girl started to smile. I had brought my camera and had some cute pictures of the monkeys at our campus. I went and sat next to her and started showing her the photos, and when she looked down at the baby monkey her eyes light up, she smiled, and said monkey in gujarati. She wanted to see more and more photos, it made my heart melt that I was able to do something to bring a smile to her face once again.
 When we finally left she was sad to see us go and really wanted to see us off but could not leave her bed.

After that visit we went to another girl's house who was 16 and had survived a gang rape by four men. Her case was scheduled to go to trial within the next couple of weeks.
 From there we went to one of the poorest Dalit villages in all of Ahmedabad to talk about the discrimination they were experiencing and the water scarcity/pollution that was affecting them because of the discrimination.

As I said it was an incredibly long day and emotionally tiring...but overall I felt inspired to act, Now I have seen the human faces of human rights violations, I know there names, I have shared tea with them...and I will do as much as I possibly can to help them. 

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