Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Slums, Soilets and Smiles

So today was amazing. I love the two projects that I'm heading up, I really do, but every now and then a break is nice. So I decided to jump on the Tippy Tap project. To learn more about what a Tippy Tap is go here. The project is being done in the slums Sri Nunamadgatar or something along those lines. It's also where we are building our first soilet. It's a complimentary project because the soilet is helping them to have better sanitation by preventing open defecation and the tippy tap is a water-efficient way to properly teach about washing hands with soap. Also it actually kills germs with the soap.

So Drew, Melanie, Sean, Sirisha, Brandon, Lexi, Seth and I all go out to work on these projects. It was a fun ride and literally as soon as we got off the bus it started raining. Yay monsoon season.

We get out and it's what you'd expect to see in a slum.


We break off into our respective groups, and Melanie, Lexi and I all go with our local connection to the head of the colony's house. There we talk with him about expanding the project and what we can do to help. It was great because he was all on board about having us teach seminars and help the people to understand, learn and grow.

It's not just the poor, even the rich let their babies go around like this, I guess it saves on diapers

It was such a great experience to meet with the head of the colony. He was so humble and so full of ideas and grateful that we were wanting to come and help. It was great to hear how willing he was to participate and help teach as many people as possible so that they could improve their health and lifestyle practices.

Him with his family outside his home

One of the things I love about visiting a little bit outside the city is that the people seem to smile more.

Well, maybe not the older ones as much...

But everyone really is friendly and they say hello and wave.

Even the little ones!

So we go to join the Soilets to see what we can do to help.

The in-progress soilet when we get there.

So we get there and instantly a group of people come up to us, mostly young people, but also some older ones.

Remember these two, they are responsible for almost the rest of my time spent today :)

The locals like asking us to take pictures.

These boys were pretty silly but fun and helped out when they could.

We get started by moving the porous concrete slabs into place in the soilet

And when I say we I mean them because I'm not allowed to lift anything larger than a very small child for the next 8 weeks (Look at my handsome hubby using those muscles!)

After this point, I was kidnapped by those girls and the rest of the slum children it seems. It was fun going from house to house to learn about their lives and see how they coped. It was interesting to note that despite being in such poverty, many people had tvs and a dish. Wait, what? The priorities are a little off here, but at least the people are trying to change and learn good practices. That and they are just absolutely wonderful, happy, kind, caring people. I had so much fun meeting everyone today and playing with the kids.

This little imp kept getting everyone to dance :)

Here she is with Lexi...

And with Melanie and Lexi trying to do the Sheila dance. Oh boy.

So it was fun meeting people and hearing stories. Example, this woman has a masters in Education and then she decided that she wanted to do something more with her life and decided to move to the slums to teach for free. Now she teaches 10 year olds who clearly adore her.

So sweet.

And it was fun to see the families and how they interacted.

All siblings or cousins

Dad and baby

Grandmother and grandchildren

And sisters:

So after romping around for a bit, I was finally able to escape and document more of the soilet process.

Melanie with the cement/concrete whatever it is

Seth in the soilet helping with filling in an mortar

While resting for a little bit after being dragged up and down the slum by the children, I sat down on some stairs. Only to be joined by them and a picture ensued. :)

So cute

It was also neat to see the dynamic of the street where we were building the soilet.

So much life and activity going on.

So finally the moment arrives when the soilet has been filled in and the slab with the hole for the squatter toilet needs to be placed on the soilet frame.

Sean and Brandon contemplating how this will work

Drew is excited about being close to being done for the day

Seth figures out how to maneuver around the slab a bit...

The strong men lift it up...

And voila! Progress! It's starting to look like a usable latrine!

After this we needed to head back to our home but we took a few parting shots.

Myself and the imp :)

Sirisha and a local woman resting after moving the soilet

Drew with some of the boys :)

It was a blast. Looking forward to helping these people and doing what I can.

See you next week slum!

Have I mentioned how much I'm loving India? It's fantastic. :)


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