So as you may or may not know….I’ve been traveling around Southern India for the past month or so. I’m currently in Kovalam (a bit Costa Del Kerela …..full of plump middle aged westerners on package holidays whose only interaction with Indians are in restaurants) and I’m trying to put things in to perspective (albeit for a short time) and do a little charity work.
As much as I love London, its nice to get away from all the faux arse kissing/oh you must come to my fabulous party/I’ll book you soon, honest bullshit that goes with this business we so lovingly call show.
I’m teaching the youngest class (aged 6-8) at SISP (Sebastian Indian Social Projects)
I’ve never been a particular fan of children but these kids are funny, adorable and seem to like that my lessons consist of jumping on tables and rolling around on the floor singing.
Yesterday, one boy in the class slept nearly the whole day as his father had beaten him the night before. Two sisters are forced to go begging on the beach to buy booze for their alcoholic father who beats their mother. One of the girls always goes back for as much food as she can get at meal times as she doesnt get fed at home. I met these kids (who don't even have shoes) on the road back to my cockroach ridden digs and the youngest girl and boy held my hand tightly all the way back. I didn’t want to leave them to go home where they aren’t given much materially or emotionaly.
There is a very poor structure of child welfare in India. Women and children are frequently abused and it’s accepted as the norm. There are few girls in the school as from the age of 12, they are expected to stay at home, tend to the house and in many cases, also work.
I guess I can’t come over here with my western values, stomping around demanding that things change. Feminism in the west is still a recent phenomena and India is still a third world country. Hopefully, time will tell but its going to have to be the women of India themselves to revolt. A Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women is a start in the right direction (a reaction against Hindu Fundamentalists who beat up women drinking in a bar).
SISP try and give these children something positive. Their parents are paid for the kids to attend the school (as so many are forced to work from a young age), they are fed throughout the day and receive a lot of care and attention from the teachers and volunteers. There is also a department that employs and educates women who make bags, earrings and placemats out of recycled materials.
SISP runs on donations alone and receives no government support. If anyone wants to sponsor a child, donate or volunteer you can find everything on the website.
SISP (Sebastian Indian Social Projects)