June 17, 2010
I'm Not in Kansas Anymore
This morning at the Hope Project we celebrated the death of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, a teacher of Sufism in Europe and America, whose dargah (shrine) resides directly next to the Hope Project. The majority of Hope staff as well as some devoted ex-patriots and local community members participated in the Chadar ceremony. This ceremony involves the covering of the graves of both Hazrat Inayat Khan and his son Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, the founder of The Hope Project. Each year their graves are covered with a new piece of silk and prayers are said in their honor.
If I had to explain I suppose I would say basically, people of all colors and creeds came together to celebrate Pir Vilayat Khan's initial love for humanity that inspired the Hope Project. In this way, the ceremony was a more glorified version of what happens at the Hope Project every day. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and others work together to serve the disadvantaged community members of Nizamuddin.
In regard to my project here, progress has been made. I have acquired about 20 minutes of extremely valuable video footage of interviews with a few of the self-help groups that comprise the micro-finance institute here at Hope. By that, I mean Kamayani(the student fellow from GIEU India this year) agreed to ask the women my questions in Hindi and translate for me. And more importantly the women themselves agreed to answer very personal questions about their lives on film. And then had the nerve to thank us for asking them.
The remaining $4000.00 USD of the Goldman Sachs fellowship that former Michigan student Ruoda Yuan won (and was mistakenly written off as a donation to the Hope Project last year)is also finding its way out of the nebulous that is Indian Accounting Policy Regarding Foreign Currency for Non-Governmental Organizations...
By that I mean, it has been decided by The Hope Project and the members of The Navara Group [student led international development organization I am involved in at Michigan, (also brainchild of Ruoda Yuan)], that the money will be invested here in India by the Hope Project and the returns will be split into a revolving fund used to benefit the women of the Micro-Finance Sector, and a fund that remains under Navara's control for future investment.
But what to invest in? Mutual Funds, micro-equity, individual entrepreneurs in Nizamuddin? For now your guess is as good as mine. Our work is cut out for us,and I am excited to make this happen over many hot afternoons, and many more hot cups of chai.
On another note, three weeks have completely escaped from my calendar. Although I make sure to write a brief summary of every day's activities, successes, and frustrations, each day I find myself a little less sure of the India I understood one year ago, of the India I understood one week ago, of the India I understood yesterday.
Throughout the weeks, while I have been trying to understand the increasingly complex socio-economic inequalities that permeate India, I think the only thing I have begun to understand is that I really will not ever understand.
So now what, you may ask.
If I had 10 rupees for every time I have asked myself the same question, while the familiar sound of unfamiliar Hindi jargon resonates around me.
Yeah, so now what? Ab kya?
I guess I'll have to sleep on it.
Posted by amissy at June 17, 2010 09:22 AM