July 03, 2011
EduCARE - The organization and my research
So I haven't been the best about blogging regularly because I've been so busy! However, this weekend I'm taking today to relax, catch up on yet more work, and reflect on the organization I've been working with.
Upon arriving in India I was slightly disappointed with the organization. The housing situation in one of the cities was not ideal, the organization seemed disconnected and the man who led the entire operation (and only one of two full-time employees, both of whom are the only Indians in the organization) loved to hear himself speak and seemed ineffective as a leader. Almost the entire organization and their social programs are run by young international volunteers who stay anywhere from a year at a time to 6 weeks. There are three centers in three villages, the larger Adampur, the small Dosarka, and the very small Janauri where they speak Hindi instead of the traditional Punjabi. Currently there are 25 interns and generally each intern helps with 2-3 projects. EduCARE does work with sanitation, a Girls Club that is part of their Women Empowerment initiative, a form of Micro-Finance (ask my friend Martha for more info on this!), an organic farm, an alternative fuel and recycling program, a Migrant Empowerment, and an after school program for both middle-class Punjabis and migrant children. The organization also offers English classes that primarily address increasing global awareness.
So some things that work in this organization:
-Each intern is given a lot of freedom to do what ever they want. If I wanted to start a basketball team with the migrant children, and I had the drive and materials to do so, I could. I do not really want to do this but it is awesome that I have this level of freedom.
-There are many projects to help out with and there is never a lack of things to do (I am busy allll the time!)
-As an intern, you can see the personal development in the students and children you work with over a month time-span so the work can feel quite rewarding.
-The organization strives to be self-sustainable which it mostly reaches - it is neat that the organization does not want to rely on outside funds. Mr. B (the man who runs everything) constantly repeats the mantra, manpower, materials, money! In that order of importance!
-Finally, the organization stresses the importance of leading by example. The interns and our houses use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and we encourage the locals to reuse materials. We also have our bio-fuel plant (remember the time I spent all weekend scooping poo? it was for that plant...) and we realize how our own actions can influence the local population - both negatively and positively.
Things that do not work for the organization:
-There is too much freedom. Oftentimes interns arrive and they have no idea what they are doing or how to do it. There is often little instruction and not enough training upon arrival.
-Conflicts of interest and egos. While I respect most of the people in this organization, because so few people work here long term, I think that personal relationships and egos get in the way of being an effective organization.
-Typical organization woes: over planning, too many google documents, too many meetings and too little action taken, and an over-extension of resources and manpower.
-The main man, Mr. B, touts a goal of 40% efficiency. Wow, that is a large number to strive to attain... I could continue but let's not get too negative.
So I'm working on Girls Club and the Migrant Empowerment initiative. Mostly I do education with girls and migrant children. I also decided to help out the organization and teach English classes (something I had not intended to do nor something I feel very good about, it feels a little like linguistic imperialism).
My research through CSAS is focused on my observations of how globalization has affected education here in Punjab. More generally, the effect education has had within the empowerment of marginalized communities such as the women's empowerment and migrant empowerment programs through EduCARE.
Some quick general observations:
-Punjab is a relatively rich state of India with a high immigration rate abroad, the affects of globalization are seen in their farming techniques, school, and in the slow change of some aspects of their culture to a more Western influenced life style. Still, many of my English students maintain that they value their own traditional culture higher than Western culture. At the same time, people are extremely obsessed with trying to go abroad that they seem to try to immerse themselves in a more Western lifestyle. It goes both ways.
-Students are very interested in our organic farming techniques - which I found a little surprising - which shows how a current Western ideal has a far-reaching positive global effect
-Also surprising, I've been able to observe and research a lot from the English classes that are discussion based. The organization stresses teaching with a global focus so we discuss topics such as love marriage vs. arranged marriage, poverty, global warming, developing economies, etc. It is interesting to learn the student's perspectives as well as how they view different topics and themes based on their culture or home life.
-Some of the techniques we try to empower the girls in Girls Club do not work because of cultural differences. Sometimes it doesn't seem like we are accomplishing all that much either, but at the same time, it is a big deal just for these girls to have a space that is just for them. It is a big deal to be allowed to leave the house and hang out with other girls to learn and play games or sports.
-Finally, for the migrant children, the educational component with them is essential. We cannot establish trust within the migrant community without first reaching out to the children. This is easily done by teaching them English and math skills meanwhile playing games and singing songs with them. Once we have their trust we slowly gain their parents trust. Through this we can implement other social programs and involve the migrant communities - especially the trash picking communities - with our sanitation projects.
I'm hardly explaining these or getting into the meat of the issues but I thought I'd quick jot down my observations here to give others an idea of what I'm observing and researching.
Posted by julimari at July 3, 2011 09:04 AM