Few of my firsts as a volunteer!

Few of my firsts as a volunteer!

In this article I will describe some of my experiences and learnings from the first four weeks of my stay as a volunteer. Below I will drag the key of my first experiences when it comes to:

  • Host family stays
  • CREDIT I – projects
  • Darasa Festival – Mysore

I landed in Bangalore on the 14th of September 2022. FSL coordinator Manjunath met me at the Airport and followed me to Hunsur, where I was warmly welcomed by my first host family. It was a big house in two stocks and a big roof with a lot of plants and flowers. The family comprised of a grandmother, her grown up daughter and grown up son. The daughter was the prime caretaker of the household.

This gave me an opportunity to get a view of the daily life of this family and to taste the well-prepared food the daughter made. She was very caring to my wellbeing in the family house. It was a good experience to learn about daily living in this family. In spite of the language barrier, we were able to exchange information about small things during the days and of family backgrounds – mine and theirs.

To get to know a little about Hunsur, I took some small walks in the town, looking at people, animals, shops and different sorts of vehicles. This gave me the first impressions of being in India.

On the 19th of September 2022 I moved from Hunsur to my host family in Mysore. This was another kind of family – a mother and her son 10 years old. For me it is a useful experience to get to know another kind of home – smaller and in a closer contact with the host family. Staying in this family give me valuable knowledge about the daily life of a woman being alone taking care of her son while her husband is working fare away. It is impressing to see how engaged she is in supporting her sons school attendance and taking care of the daily housekeeping.

During my stay the host mother lost her grandmother. This gave me new knowledge of the mourning culture in the family and by the neighbors – on the morning she got the message as well as when she came back to the house after being away for the funeral. It was a great loss for her as she already had lost her mother years ago.

On the 19th of September 2022 I was introduced to CREDIT I. I was very kindly welcomed to the office by Dr. Varsha and one of the members of the staff. The first day consisted of mutual presentations and I felt well informed about the foundation and the ideas of CREDIT I.

The following day I met the headmaster of the Office and four other staff members. The were all very accommodating to me. The only but great barrier showed to be the language. The daily language in both speech and writing is Kannada and not all the staff are familiar in speaking English.

The office headmaster and one of the others are good English speaking and the others understand and can speak some, so we do our best to conquer the language barriers and it works most of the time.

I have got a very informative introduction to the CREDIT I projects and find them very valuable and fulfilling. To my surprise Self Help Groups(SHG) in CREDIT I framework is very different from the Self help groups I know in Denmark.  

The SHG s has focus on the basic life conditions for women in the rural areas. To support women in training and education to make better conditions for their potential earnings. Training in all sorts of skills adjusted to the interests of the women. To support the women in being self supportive and empowered in all the basic aspects of their life. In Denmark Self help groups are focused on psychological and personal matters and themes.    

I have visited seven SHG´s.

One in Mysore, where I met five women working in a sewing room. This SHG have 20 members – all engaged in stitching bags and clothes. They don´t come to the sewing room every day. The women adapts the stitching to the others duties in their daily life. They have sewing machines at home as well as in the sewing room.

This SHG have existed in eight years. I was impressed to see how engaged these women were in the stitching, how hard they work to make the stitching an integrated part of their life with children and family. The participation in SHG have made their life conditions much better. They earn a living and can provide the cost of living for their families.

On top of being busy stitching the five women took time to answer my questions translated by two of the CREDIT I – staff and they were ever so kind to me. It warmed my heart to meet so much kindness.

Three SHG´s in villages around Pritnapaya. Here I followed two of the CREDIT I – staffs doing Village Based Training (VBT) for three SHG´s. To get out in those villages I went by bus to Pritnapaya and from there I sat back on a bike driving around the countryside. It was a very good way to learn about the rural areas, the farms and the houses in the villages, the people, the animals, the fields, the trees. Sitting at a bike I came close to it all and enjoyed take all the impressions to be so near to ongoing daily life in all its different aspects.

At the VBT´s the language used was Kannada – both in writing and in the speeches made – That meant that I didn´t understand the words. But I used my eyes and senses to feel the atmosphere in the sessions. It was a great experience to watch the women´s different expression during the VBT. They were also very kind in their contact to me. In few words it was possible to exchange greetings with them.

Three SHG´s in the villages around Hunsur. Here I followed the same procedure as the day before and I got the same good experiences to get close to the living conditions in the villages and the rural areas. This day I was asked to make a speech about women´s participation in decision making connections.

In connection with the VBT I made a short speech and one of the CREDIT I – staff translated it. The women took well against my speech.

Beside my speech I did the same as the day before looked at the women´s variable expressions during the VBT and again it was a great experience to witness the session.

Shelters for homeless. The 26. September 2022 I joined the opening of a new Shelter in Mandya. There is a great need of Shelters for homeless and it was nice to meet four engaged caretakes ready to get the work started. It was also very informative to see the basic of a Shelter and get the knowledge about how it develops from there by private funding.

Rejuvenation of tanks

CREDIT – I has provided 21 tanks of water in the nature.

In this project they support moving mud from an earlier water pond. This mud can be used as fertilizer on the fields. When the mud has been removed the rain will fil the freed pond and the ground water level will rise.

I have visited some of those Tanks with one of the CREDIT I – staffs. Again sitting back on a Bike. It was very informative to see the Tanks in different stages and levels. I gave me valuable knowledge about the processes in this very importing work to secure water supplies and fertilizer for improving the farming in the villages.

It is really impressing to see the difference such a Tank makes. I was very happy to see how this project improves the life conditions for the farmers. Which one of the farmers expressed grateful, when asked by me with help of translation.       

Darasa Festival Mysore

The Dasara festival have been a strong presence during my stay in Mysore. I have joined different worshipping activities.

  • Dasara sports Inauguration Ceremony
  • Puja at CREDIT I Office
  • The Festival Procession – Jumboo Savari

It has all been very, very impressing and challenging to be part of the festival life in Mysore with the crowds of people and traffic. But when all comes to all it has been a very special time to be in Mysore and I am very happy to have been able to take part in the Darasa Festival.

With these words I will end this article in which I have tried to express the essence of my experiences the first four weeks as a volunteer in FSL India.

By Jytte Hansen

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