Project Nai Disha: Rest of the days and my travel in India and some personal observations

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all are doing great. I will continue with my experience and will post all 3 remaining days together since the school has started and it is taking up my time.

Day 3 started differently. Instead of going to Nai Disha for Administrative tasks we went to a school in rural Delhi, in a village. The school was a project run to educate the children in the village. We sat down in a hall where the director of project led us through how the project came into existence. The school taught children from Grade 1 through Grade 10 and contrary to Nai Disha it was a morning school. The school worked on teaching as well as providing a skill set which the children can use to earn a livelihood. It was interesting to learn how a girl from the school started earning a livelihood with that skill set and got empowered. Hence it was quite unique to know that something more along with education can be really helpful to a person.

The school was also unique in the fact that it used to provide a healthy breakfast to all their children every day. Porridge was served everyday in breakfast. As I had mentioned in my last post health and complete diet are a rare for children from under-privileged background. Hence giving breakfast as well as a mid day meal served in good purpose. The school was also very innovative in the fact that it used to screen English movie every Saturday, so that students learn about and grasp English.
After looking around the school, we went to the hospital which was built in the village by the Indian population foundation. The hospital was in full capacity and used to treat patient for free. Interestingly doctors from India’s top medical facility called AIIMS (All India Institute for Medical Sciences) visited the hospital once every two months. There were no permanent doctors at the hospital and everyday some or other doctor from nearby area used to visit the hospital.

At 1 40pm we again reached Nai Disha where the children were eagerly awaiting us as we were late than usual time. Today the students were going to make post cards which we were going to sell at the Christmas party. The funds collected from the party will go to Nai Disha. After making the post cards we started them teaching about the basics of English.

Day 4 went by the normal routine, at school though we taught them about nouns, pronouns, adjectives and conjunctions. Especially they were really weak in forming complex sentences. Later on there was a parents-teacher meeting and it was very interesting to talk with the parents of the student we were teaching.

After teaching at the school, 5 of us Amitha, Amanda, Joe and Hailey went to Public Health Foundation of India. We met with Dr. Arora and two of their associates and we discussed about various project pursued by them. Interestingly Dr. Arora was doing research in the field of obesity and was writing a thesis on it which will be published later this year. I got to know an interesting fact that obesity was slowly and surely increasing in India. The private school reported a high percentage of obese students and where as the malnutrition rate was very in public schools. But interesting thing was that the students on private school once they came to know that they are heading towards obesity they worked on their obesity. Hence Dr. Arora’s study found that the percentage of obese adult India’s was quite low in percentage. This was interesting to learn and I had more fact finding to do, so I decided to study some of the reports Dr. Arora was talking about.

Day 5 was unique in the fact, that it was last day of our teaching and we were going throw a Christmas party for the students. The Christmas part went fabulous and thus came an end to our teaching of 5 days. The students sang various Christmas songs which we made them learn. The proceedings ended with Hokey-Pokey and it was super fun doing it with the kids. After teaching I was supposed to travel at different places in India. And it was time to verify certain facts which I learned at PHFI.

I started off by going to my native place located in Gujarat and it was a surprise to see a McDonalds Restaurant in my native place, gosh India has moved on. My native place is a small town and I had never in my wildest dream thought of seeing a McDonalds here. But was I travelled South Gujarat and Then Mumbai, it was a common scene to see swanky malls and fast food joints. One of my favorite places to eat good Indian good was Mumbai Central Railway’s station catering restaurant. So when I went there I was shocked to see a McDonalds in place of the restaurant. Although one of my favorite places got converted into a McDonalds, rest others still exist and they serve good nutritious food. I still do believe schooling has a lot to do with what you become and especially what you eat.

When I came to USC for studies, I had almost no other option but to start cooking food at home. Since in first few days, I realized there were few good options if you want to eat healthy food around USC. And trust me if you have not grown in an atmosphere were fast food has flourished, one definitely starts thinking of cooking yourself. A trend which I have observed with almost every graduate/Undergraduate student at USC who had done their schooling in India.

After going through my text-books of science which I studied in Grades 3 – 8 in my schooling in India I realized how deeply we have been taught about what is good to eat and what is nutritious. Coupled with what our parents used to serve us, it seems valid a good schooling and a good parents counseling on food can be the answer to obesity which we are facing all over the world.

I will be now working to complete my photo-essay on my findings in India and some of which I will like to co-relate with that in USA and especially USC.