It’s all fun and games until you accidentally bring on the (heavy, destructive) rains!

Blog entry created by: Teresa

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First – an amazing success story:

We are working with Land for Tiller’s Freedom in Tamil Nadu, India

It’s an amazing organization run by followers of Gandhi.  We couldn’t wait to meet 85 year-old Krishnammal Jagannathan who has worked her whole life in non-violent struggle to win the Dalit (untouchable) people respect and economic independence.  In a nutshell, she has made it possible for 15,000 Dalit families to purchase one acre of land each.  The land is very fertile, and owning it is a source of earning enough money for food, education and housing.

On December 31st, 65 more families acquired the means to economic self-sufficiency!

We went to the government office where LAFTI and 65 more Dalit families completed the paperwork to buy an acres of land each.  The government is offering a 50% subsidy and a 50% low-payment loan to the families…LAFTI sets up the land deals with landowners and buyers and coordinates all of the details. It was amazing to see the lives of 65 families change overnight.  LAFTI always put the land in the name of the women, as studies show that they will make sure the earnings from growing rice are put to good use, and it gives them more power within the family structure.

A terrible rainy season this year…

The rainy season was terrible this year…more than in the past several years.  Floods ruined harvests, damaged houses, and have prevented us from getting to work helping Dalits with construction of houses made possible by Passports with Purpose.  The rains are letting up, though, and we are hopeful we can build this week.

Beautiful women sing and kid each other in their shy almost childlike way…

About twenty of the women who received land came to see us today.  Given the language barrier, we decided we would sing for them and ask them to sing for us.  They are beautiful people.  In the 30 second video, you can see their natural gentleness, shyness and almost childlike way about them.

The Hokey-Pokey and the Macarena seemed so harmless at the time

We had fun singing, but we’ve been noticing that, after generations of oppression and fighting for a fair share, most of their songs have to do with struggle.  They aren’t cheery playful songs.  We figured: Why not get them up doing the Hokey-Pokey, the Macarena, Cooton-eyed-Joe…the Maasai tribe members just loved those playful games/dances!  It would be nice to introduce a little lighthearted fun.  The little girls who were there just loved the Hokey-Pokey and a few of the more playful women joined in and laughed.  The Macarena was a different story though…it’s more of a dance than a game.  We only did a little bit, but noticed that the women backed away a little.  We stopped and they gestured about rain.  Rain?  It couldn’t be, could it? …yes, that is what they were gesturing…this dancing could bring back the bad rains, flooding, respiratory problems, and more suffering.  Who knew?  Next time we will have to research more about the local beliefs before we break into dance.

Of course, it’s raining outside now

It’s not too heavy though…a little drizzly. And it WAS cloudy this morning, which was way before we tempted fate with dance.  It’s unlikely the rainy season will return with any force this late in the year, so I think we are safe and will be forgiven for the light drizzle.

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Posted on: January 2, 2011 | Categories: Blog, Economic Opportunity, India, Traditions


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