Kids performing a dance number at our greeting ceremony.

Rural village

Poverty is plentiful in India's rural villages

Today we travelled to a rural village. The bus ride was exciting and terrifying as usual. I love looking out the windows. There is always such a frenzy of activity which you would never find in the U.S. There are motorcycles carrying entire families of six, women in brightly colored saris, and street vendors haggling. So much to take in; almost too much to take in.

When we reached the village, we were greeted with a drumming ceremony, fire that warded off evil, and homemade flower necklaces. The village children performed several dances for us, in one of which a little boy dressed as an old man and a girl as an old woman. It was hysterical! We were then paraded to the heart of the village with the drummers leading the way.

To reach the village, we had to walk on a dirt path through a farmer's land. He continued to tell us that it was his land. He was so proud! We walked past oxen plowing fields and small mud huts, one of which had an open well. In the U.S., we would never dream of actually getting our water this way and much less actually drinking it. Another home had a contraption for turning cow dung into a form of gas for fuel. It is amazing what these villagers can do with what they have.

Once we finally reached the village, we were swarmed by children. They all wanted their pictures taken. All of the villagers stood on their doorsteps and waved. Some even blessed us as we passed.

One family allowed us to enter their home. It was tiny! There were sort of two rooms each with a cot and a mess of pots. There was a single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. They cooked outside and had a makeshift bathroom. Many homes do not have bathrooms we were told and because the women must only go to the bathroom when it is dark, many women have severe gastric intestinal issues.

Unfair does not begin to capture this! Everything and anything I try to express in words fails to capture the true reality of India's situation. It ripped me apart to leave the village. One little girl asked to come back to our country because she wants to learn to read and write. I cannot even imagine living in this reality without choices.

Barbara Koehl

University of St. Thomas

St. Paul, MN 55105

Links checked Dec. 12, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Barbara Koehl