The last visit I was able to do was thrown together quickly. Kiran (who seems to be EEI’s first volunteer/communication coordinator/translator in India) and I did a field visit to a couple neighboring villages, Chaus and Wada. Kiran is from Wada which is a beautiful 45 minute drive through green pastures and hills, a very large dam, and rows and rows of crops and farmland. He had actually arranged for us to visit and meet with the principal, a few teachers, and a handful of girls. This was extremely helpful for me and was so easy to do because he was once a student here himself.
When we arrived in at the school in Wada I was introduced to the staff and principal by Kiran. He explained the purpose of my visit and I would like to meet some students, if possible. My presence was received well, and a few staff members prepared a quote of what it would cost to send a girl to school from 9th to 11th standard. The fees are quite low for a public secondary school since there is no tuition at this location. Instead there are your expected school costs of books, stationary, uniforms, and exam fees. All at a very low cost (to us Americans) of $60 per year! The fees go up in the 11th and 12th standard, but still it’s reasonable compared to any other school in America.
Once we finished talking with the girls I was taken into the village to visit the homes of four girls. In India I greatly enjoy meeting new families and seeing their homes. As awkward as it was, and probably more so for the mothers than me, I offered my respect to the family for having me there. Of the four homes I went to I was only able to meet two sets of families. The other parents were out working in the field and I insisted that they not leave their work to come and meet me.
It was already the end of the school day when Kiran and I returned to Chaus. Originally we asked the principal to select five girls that we could meet. Instead he brought us twelve. Well, clearly there is a need for ensuring that girls’ are able to stay in school so I couldn’t possibly turn them away. The process went the same, but this time we did not go to any of their homes. Before leaving I was given a quote of the expenses that the girls are expected to pay during the school year. Again this is a very nominal amount of money.
The holiday weekend was incredible, but also bittersweet. I had to say goodbye to my friends living in Junnar and Rajgurunagar. The hardest part was leaving my Indian family, the Pacharne’s, for the second time in my life. We spent our last night together celebrating Ganesh, eating sweets and snacks, lighting fireworks, and taking pictures. Early morning I woke up and prepared to leave for my flight from Pune to Udaipur. I left knowing that whatever came next I would continue to receive help from many more people.