Experiences: The Importance of Educating Girls

Ahar Gateby Melanie Closs, March 2014

It’s my last week in Anupshahr. The time has gone by both fast and slow. I can’t believe all that I’ve seen and done, and all that I have accomplished, and yet I feel that there is so much left to do in my last week!

On Friday I had a very interesting and amazing experience that I’ve never had before.I went with Ajay, the head of the lower school Satya Bharti, to a far away village where many of our students come from. These girls have had very low attendance in school. Ajay wanted to talk to the parents and villagers about the importance of educating girls. In this area, the tradition is for the girls to stay home and do housework. It’s possible that parents are keeping these kids from going to school so they can stay at home for this purpose.

He asked me to come. We drove for almost 45 minutes, it was a really far away village. First people gathered at a local government council member’s home. I think many people showed up and brought friends because I was there- possibly the first foreigner they’ve ever seen. Then Ajay spoke for a long time about the importance of educating the girl child. Then I led a few short games and exercises. The first one was a lesson in how to change the usual mindset of what a girl should be doing. The second was to imagine, through actions and images, what a girl would be like in 10 years if she is educated, and what she is like if she isn’t. The villagers were surprisingly receptive to the activities and the points that me and Ajay were making. We seemed to really make an impact.

It might have been moot though. We found out that the real problem is that because the village was so far away, if the kids miss the bus at 6am, they don’t make it to school. But it was definitely worth it to experience doing drama with villagers; men, women and children of all ages, and it never hurts to reinforce the concept of educating girls!

Sunday was a rehearsal for the Call Centre girls. We refreshed our memory on the Women’s Day play, because they’ll be performing it on skype for their teen counterparts- our interns – in New York City. Those interns will also be performing a play for us. A true drama exchange! This will take place on Sunday morning for us, Saturday night for the NYC crowd.

Yesterday was another village day. We went on a school bus to a village with Madhu (see Ambassador page) and her students. She prepared a street play that we came to watch. We arrived at the village and another school hosted us. Both our students and theirs (co-ed) marched through the town chanting about voting rights. In this way, we drew attention from the villagers who came to watch the play.

The play was about different candidates running for leadership (unclear if it was for prime minister, since there is an election coming up, or if it was a fictional group of leaders and a general kind of election.) The final message of the play is to do research before you vote, to choose an honest leader, and to exercise your right and get out there and vote! It was great to see all the villagers out there and the girls confidently presenting their play.

Now it’s time to finish all the work I’ve started. I only have one week left, and I need to finish final rehearsals and performances of my 4th and 7th grade classes, as well as a radio show with the Voice Of Leadership and the skype play between the Call Centre and the Interns! I’m also collecting final letters and cards, passing out awards and evaluations, training teachers to become new Ambassadors. I’m also planning lots of fun activities, like turning my hair red with real henna and learning how to play Harmonium and sing songs in Hindi. I’ll be celebrating Ariana’s birthday with a Mela concert on Saturday at the school, and spending quality time with all the friends and connections I’ve made here.

My next blog will be my final- from my last 5 days in Delhi. Until then, fir milenge!