Under the hot dusty sun, our autoshaw, or more affectionately known as tuk-tuk, takes a non-descript dirt road which leads on to Bandhari Village in Gurgoan district. We drive past some ghostly empty houses, lolling cows and several running children. A private school with its orderly and tidy buildings appears on the left – its students dressed smartly in school uniforms. We arrive at three small buildings where Ms Nilanjana, the head of our project in Bandhwari Village waits for us.
The building closest to the road is a government-funded school-cum-medical centre, where the smallest signs of hope can be found for the poor in this community. It offers medicine such as vitamin C and calcium pills. Ayuverdic medicine is also available for the poor, from pregnant women to the elderly. It is also a childcare centre for the young, aged around 2 years old. Here, these kids can receive free breakfast and lunch, which mainly consists of cereal (murmura), tapioca, sprouts, peanuts or bread (prata), which is made fresh daily on a cuhlha, a traditional hand-build stove using stone bricks and cow dung and wood for fuel. The kids here receive a basic education as well. Government-funded textbooks and workbooks are given to the kids so that a basic education may hopefully be a foundation for greater achievements.
A pink building stands to the left. Here is another medical centre whose infrastructure and medicines are funded by the Indian Development Foundation (IDF). Consultations for a fee of 30 rupees and western medicine such as antibiotics are available. Basic medical amenities such as a consultation room and two sparsely furnished wards can be found in the building.
The third building is a smaller, empty building. A man is busy painting the walls purple of what is to be the future community library equipped with computers, funded by Inter Globe Technologies, a company which has provided the funds for the building and the manpower in the form of its own employees. A short while later, Inter Globe’s employees arrive on a bus and begin to put a layer of blue on the base of purple, bringing the building a little step closer to opening the community’s children’s eyes to a wider world through books.
An hour later, going up further the dirt road, we alas arrive at Bandhari village where the non-profit organization Action for Community Transformation (ACT) is working to raise the living standards of the community by empowering its women to create their own income and educating its children by working with the government-funded school.
Here, a journey of community transformation begins.