Report :: The month of 28 days

1) Activities performed in the last month:
The past month went in a blur. Maybe it’s because Feb is the shortest month or because I for once didn’t have much work pressure that I did not feel as rushed as I do normally. The beginning of the month was used to perform the usual task of putting together new petitions and getting ready to file them. this was easier than usual as my last refusal to work on account of failing health ensured that my colleagues shared the workload.
another thing I concentrated on was working on my blog and sharing it with my organisation mentors. they were pleasantly surprised to see the sort of documentation I was doing. their appreciation was a big motivation to do it better and put more efforts in it.
my first action project is now at execution level. a 4 day artist residency called The Reva Diaries is scheduled to begin in the first week of April. Artists from various cities would come and spend 4 days with the villagers in submerged/about to be submerged villages and take inspiration from the environment and the effect of the dam projects that are visible in the lives of the ousted. these artists will then present their work at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in the month of May after YfD gets over.
one majorly interesting day for me this month was the 16th of Feb. while my first art show opened in Delhi with pictures from the villages of MP, I was sent to 5 villages to get some papers signed within a period of one day. the journey began with me reaching the first village at around 3. lack of communication with my mentors, led me to try to fit in all the work within a period of 24 hours as the papers needed to be filed the very next day in JBL that too by me only. (😛 ) I was running the entire evening from one village to another,high on energy as I was doing field work after a long time. I travelled with 4 different people on 4 different bikes (!) within one night and ended up at the rooftop of the Mandleshwar office at 1am. my bus to Khandwa was at 5:30 and no one had the keys to the office. the night was spent at the rooftop walking from one end to the other. it was perhaps one of the most adventurous things I have ever done. I slept on my journey back to Khandwa and caught a train at 10 am, reaching JBL by 4. I felt like I was in a movie like 60 hours or something!
I left for home on the 28th to meet my aunt and to go to the doctor. so this report is belated as I am still just figuring out how I’ll leave home again and go back! and I cant wait to!
2) Challenges faced

The biggest challenge I faced this month was dealing with other people of my age working at NBA and refusing to do work. Also I had a tiny tiff with another volunteer from Action Aid for not realizing that working  in a group sometimes means you have to work alone as wel.
the other challenge was to break the communication gap that had led to my “race against time”. often if the mentors and the mentee are able to clarify confusions, a lot of energy time and money is wasted. this should be avoided at all costs.
3) How did you resolve them (if they are resolved??)

The first challenge I have not been able to resolve as even confronting and discussing the matter in a friendly manner didn’t reap any benefits. I am at a loss as to how to communicate with the people concerned as any more pushing might be taken in the wrong manner. instead I am not just doing my bit of the work and trying to demarcate work so everyone has to do an equal bit.
the second challenge is an easier one to solve as proper communication breaks all barriers and confusions. I plan to keep my mentors better updated now and clarify doubts even if it means that I feel dumb in my head.😛
4) Any learning from this experience.(could be about self/ society/ issue)

my learning experiences this month are varied. on one level i developed a new respect for the village people and their trustworthiness. on another level I realized that I can infact stand my ground and not do other people’s work and be taken for granted. also made better friends with the other action aid volunteer who helped me cope up better in the absence of my partner. I also somewhere realized that everyone has their own capabilities and sometimes it takes a while for them to be apparent to us so we should never judge people too soon.
5) Any broad plan for next month?

march for me is a month of traveling back and forth between Delhi and Khandwa as I have been finally given an ultimatum both by my family and my mentors to start my treatments. this would require repeated visits to the doctors back home. also its the time for me to start filling in college applications and that has to be taken care of too. I was pleasantly taken aback when my application for leave got a very positive response from my mentors, not because of anything else but because even though it means more work load on my colleagues at khandwa they told me to take care of my health first. also an encouraging mail from Silvey (one of the organisation heads) made me realize that the relationship I have forged with NBA will probably last longer than 6 months.
march also is the preparation time for the perfect execution of Reva Diaries and making progress on the book which I have shamefully ignored so far in feb.

6) Number of people got impacted through those activities :

The new cases involve 25 families from various villages. The publicity for Reva Diaries has many people interested in NBA as well. also my blog now has a healthy readership of 10(!) people on every average day.

g) Celebrations

The only celebration this month was regarding the photography show that you all have seen the invite to. the response was good and helped generate interest in the art community of Delhi.

another tiny personal achievement I would like to share would be the display of a photo essay i made last year by a reputed website the link to it is

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Taste the Thunder!

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Racing against time?

It was just another uneventful evening at Chez NBA. The phone call came at the expected time though. It was time to discuss the POA for the next day. I had to get 15 applications signed in some 4 different villages. Suddenly…things got eventful.

Wat followed were the next fastest 36 hours of my life…Three bike rides, 400kms, 6 villages, one moonlit boat ride, a solitary night on the roof in the sleepy town of Mandleshwar, a wasp hive and a last minute train to Jabalpur…

Lets just say…all’s well that end’s well.

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From the Village of Mardana to Hauz Khaz Village

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Tête`-à-tête with Mr. Sarkar

me: remind kamlesh
pls pls
and do you think i should go talk to the villagers themselves and ask them what they want in the book?
Abhijit: you can do an audience analysis
what is ur objective
need based approach is the best
me: do you have some time?
Abhijit: yea
sure tell me
me: see…i want the book to be a handy basic legal guide
i want people to actually be able to understand whats in it and use it
Abhijit: okay
me: and i want to be able to understand it
find it interesting
Abhijit: hmm
so what do u think works
me: i thought i shud put the sections of land acquisition
Abhijit: hmm
me: what documents prove their identities
Abhijit: thats a good idea
me: what rights do they have thru nrega
and then rti
Abhijit: hmm
when we were children
as in young
how did we learn
any idea
me: visuals?
Abhijit: hmm
a for apple
b for ball
me: yes
Abhijit: visuals are important
and thats ur strength too
accha another question?
me: ?
bolo bolo
but photography isnt useful for this
maybe i will have to draw
but then what do i draw when i stating sections
tell me your question
i am just throwing questions against the wall
Abhijit: Is there any skill that you learnt during pdt
me: will go thru this chat again later
Abhijit: which can help you
a story maybe
explaining a process
me: hmmm
Abhijit: comics
me: i am planning use of comic strips actually
for rti and stuff
Abhijit: hmmm
can be interesting drawing
as well
like snake and ladder
all the right steps the ladder
and a mistake a snake
and a mistake will mean
me: ok
hold on.
right there
Abhijit: doing it all over again
me: you are confusing my audience with lets say indrani’s audience
Abhijit: sorry
didnt get u
me: my audience consists of people above a certain age
as in
they might find it very juvenile to have snakes and ladder jaisa formats
Abhijit: hmmm
me: even the cartoons will have to have a certain maturity to not be taken as too childish
Abhijit: u r right
the audience should be able to connect
me: i want them to keep it next to their phone books
to consult
Abhijit: maybe
something like a discussion in a chaupal
or a pan shop
will make them connect
finding out these instances will help
me: exactly
Abhijit: i am suggesting
Abhijit: hope not confusing u
me: no no
Abhijit: it will be important fr u 2 think of a tentative audience that u are targeting
u can look at problems of the village closely
me: hmmm
Abhijit: and connect it
like no roads
me: so i am going to go to pathrad
on monday
Abhijit: has money been allocated for construction of roads
Rti might help
poor state of PDS
can RTI in getting accountability
things like these
me: yes
i like.
Abhijit: and I am sure
you can do a lot of interesting stuff with ur creativity
me: sigh
i sure do hope so
one more idea
me: ?
Abhijit: you can also keep a feedback section
like one blank page
me: how will i get it back?
Abhijit: not a blank page
an inland letter
with an address on it
the person can just write and post
and wont even have 2 pay charge for stamp
just an absurd idea
its good!
if i even get one back
its a success in itself
post card
not an inland letter maybe
Abhijit: yea
me: postcard with stamp
Abhijit: cool
me: see
Abhijit: thats the idea
me: yey!
discussion always helps
Abhijit: yea
me: i might put this chat on the blog
Abhijit: I am in trouble
just kidding
now you are
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Like a diamond in the sky.

Dirt stricken face.

He said his name is Akash…the sky…free as the glimmer in his eyes.

“I make 60 rupees a day. Sometimes more.” he tells me quietly, as he reaches out to rescue the half smoked Gold Flake I had flicked onto the ground.

He’s 11. He has 8 siblings.

He doesn’t go to school on most days…he’d rather collect seemingly salable garbage off the streets and earn his keep like a man that he already is.

Long before “puberty” hit him, poverty made him come of age.

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Better late than never…report for Dec-Jan.

a) Activities performed in the last month:

January was a low activity period. With the new year coming in, i was pretty excited and in high spirits. The month had a lot I was looking forward to. It had been three months since i’d seen either my fellow Hoonkars or met my family. Things were not very good at home with my only aunt suffering from cancer and undergoing a surgery. This and the condition of my own health kept me pre occupied for the first half of the month. I visited Jabalpur once to file some more cases but my heart wasn’t all there as i was constantly in a state of worry and impatience to go home.

At last the day arrived when we had to leave for Bhopal and i can’t remember making a trip with such a huge smile on my face. This was the break i had been waiting for and i had so much to catch up with the group and so much i had to share. What happened in the MPR and its highlights would be shared in a separate report but i can safely say i spent 4 of the best days since many many months just soaking in the strength and energy i found myself surrounded by.

The MPR was followed by a trip home. It was extremely emotionally charged and yes…it would be a lie to say that i was in a hurry to get back. I did however realise that many people very close to me have no clue whatsoever about what i am doing here and thats kind of demotivating. but then again…thats my job…to tell them that people are needed to do such work and just because very few people actually do it doesnt lessen the need for them.

I was back in khandwa on the 27th. So that summed up the month.

b) Challenges faced and How did you resolved them?

The two major challanges i faced and have been facing continually in the past month were:

1) my health which refuses to get better. Something or the other keeps coming up and I am *trying* to take thing in my hands and solve them. It is showing positive results finally but not that the pace that i would like to see them.

2) Learning to say “No.” is not easy and i am learning that the hard way. I did however put my foot down for the first time day before yesterday and requested to be let off from a trip that would have worsened my health manifold. It was received with some alarm but then I am glad i didnt go.

c) Any learning from this experience.(could be about self/ society/issue):

1) Its ok to take it slow. It does NOT mean that you are shirking work. It just means that you are giving yourself enough space to learn things at your own pace and making sure that you do not regret the rush later.

2) Going back home also helped me get some perspective with respect to the time i am devoting to the cause and my presence at NBA. Six months is not a short time to spend away from home, especially if you are essential to the basic working of the household…so it makes it imperatives for me to use it well or i’d be really sad.

e) Any broad plan for next month?

I finally narrowed down to my two main action projects. Have started working on it. Also i have some really interesting court hearing coming up and i have fingers crossed because one of these hearings could actually make a WHOLE lot of difference to the current sad state of affairs for the villages i have grown closer to.

f) Number of people got impacted throught those activities : direct/indirect (in numbers):

I filed 45 cases…I have been regularly filing more. It impacts more than 15 villages and around a 500 families.

g) Celebrations:

I didnt have much of a celebration before MPR as I was sad and ill. but as i am sending this report late I have something to finally give me a positive sign for my being here. 15 of the cases I had filed were up for acquisition on the second but a hearing on the first put a stop to that for now. It felt good as those cases had been put together and filed from scratch by me.

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