Through The Rural Lens: Understanding Differences

by | Jan 5, 2019

In the beginning, it was labelled as “getting adjusted” to the new work environment. Different people, their habits other than mine, and distinct surroundings while working in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh made me realize that adapting here meant recognizing several privileges I had taken for granted before coming here. I used to call them comforts but soon dawned upon the realization that privilege here was much more than an air-conditioner in summers or electricity at all times of a day. In last 5 months of working with Swarachana School by Milaan Foundation, here are a few things I observed in the life of a student:

Starting with the wake up call early morning, it is a matter of privilege if one gets time to study even if he/she gets up at 5:00 am. Chores like cleaning the house, cooking and milking the cow are priorities. This is not because parents do not want their children to study but because there is so much work to be done at home and in the fields that every member of the house is bound to contribute their time and energy into it.

To save time, cycling to school is the only option here. Yet, not every family can afford to buy one, just for their children to commute to the school. Several girls walk up to a distance of 6 kilometers in order to reach their school. A few boys cycle 12-13 kilometers to go to college. To me, transport through the school bus always seemed like a need, as I used to live 7 kilometers away from my school.

While my friends and I complained of a wobbling leg of the desk because Oh! We couldn’t write our exams properly with full concentration, here is a place where having even desks and benches become luxury on most days. They are comfort items without which, school life functions smoothly.

Our schools had different grounds for different games. At times, we even had separate coaches for each game. Here, forget about a coach or a basketball court, having a safe playground within the school premises is a privilege, a matter of pride for both the school administration and its students.

Getting back from school meant taking rest, finishing your homework and playing games with friends an neighbors. Here, I saw a different side of after-school life. While one of my students manages a paan shop, some of them help their families out in the fields, a boy takes care of a bread business while several girls have to cook, clean the house, wash clothes and help in other household chores.

After all the physical labor, it is evening already, that time of the day when we comfortably watched television while waiting for dinner or continued with self-study. However, just as it starts to get dark here, the power supply usually goes off. They then find warmth around a bonfire on cold winter nights.

I am definitely not saying that life is not good here but it’s hard. The people are beautiful, and so are the surroundings. A large bunch of things that we take for granted are after all, not on everyone’s wish list. Yet, there are several comforts here, which are on my wish list only because I have lived in privileged urban spaces earlier.

Half Half None

Half Half None

The following blog has been co-written by co-fellows Daraab Saleem Abbasi and...

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1 Comment

  1. sureenoughtowrite

    Yet the priviledge lets us think we are meritorious and deserving of what we get and manage to do. Well written 🙂

    Reply

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