Monday, July 12, 2010

09 to 12.07.'10: First review and POA

My review panel has three of my faculty/mentors from college. Rustam Vania, Mary Jacob and Vasanthi Das, and Mr.Vishwanath is my external mentor.These are the people whom I run to if I am dying. I had my first review with my college panel where I explained the context of this project and they gave me some pointers of where to go next.

I realised that the language barrier is a big one, after this meeting. I need to find someone who is interested in working in this space, with me or someone who can help me in communicating with the children and the community in Kannada. I know English, Tamil and Hindi and generally claim to understand Kannnada and Telugu (I actually can) but that doesn't really help my situation and I am a little scared because of this, but am sure something can be figured out. I wish languages were easy!

I will be visiting the village for the first time only tomorrow, and hence will have a clearer idea of the problems that need to be addressed. I am looking forward to the visit so that I can narrow down to the school I can work with and start ideating for workshop and design opportunities. From the background I was given by Mr.Vishwanath, there is this larger issue of fluorosis and clean water as well as lots of smaller issues to do with some of the rainwater harvesting tanks that have already been built and initiatives that have been taken. These people do not feel a sense of ownership to community tanks and spaces and this ends up being a problem. Vandalism, stealing and demolishing being some of them. So a point of focus for me would also include looking at how I can make this work as a community? How can I remove this barrier and make people think that public property was theirs? It is for them to use and maintain as it would help them to get clean water in future. I have been thinking of ways to do this starting with the children and trickling to the teachers and the administration of the school and village. Only if all of them are involved will there be a sense of 'working together as a community' and this is what is going to produce good effects.

If the sense of 'community maintenance' does not exist with the govt. rainwater tanks, I was wondering if it would be the same when it comes to hygiene? Personal vs. public. So will people wash their hands and themselves but still throw garbage onto the roads and use open spaces as toilets? A space that doesn't belong to them directly? That would be something to look at, and here behavioural change would also feature.

When I visit tomorrow, I need to know what questions to ask. There are six schools and thus I should ask the same questions so that parallels can be drawn when the data is compared,once I am back. So, the next task involves making a matrix or a questionnaire for tomorrows visit, and also maybe plan a small introductory activity to see what the children think of the water they are exposed to, how much they know about it and what their associations with this are.

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