Tuesday, 30 June 2015

First day Teaching-June 25th

I started teaching my curriculum to the girls the day after arriving to India. In the morning, I taught about 30 girls who were around my age at a village called Lotki. It was a very interesting, and initially pretty difficult experience. First of all,  it was slightly difficult to communicate with the girls, because they couldn't understand/speak English very well and my Hindhi was a bit (ok, a lot!) rusty. My dad helped translate initially. Furthermore, self defense mainly revolves around visually demonstrating so it became increasingly easier.

Second, it was so hot! Since it is a village, there's not really a gym or hall I could hold the class in, so the villagers decided that outside the Mandir (temple) would be a good place because it had a good amount of space. However, after the first day, the Pandit (religious head of the temple) thought it was quote (translated) "promoting warfare", so we moved across the temple. Ironic because self defense is aimed at protecting women from men who promote warfare by assaulting women frequently. Anyways, had a good laugh over that one. 

I began the class with some exercises and punching/kicking. I noticed that many of these girls were very weak and frail. A few of them seemed very underconfident as well. It was evident that there is a level of patriarchy and male dominance in the village. Since women empowerment is a large part of what I hoped to achieve, I talked with the girls about their life endeavors and what they hoped to achieve. Many of them talked about being doctors, fashion designers, or traveling the world. However, afterwards, they depressingly said that they would probably end up just getting married and becoming housewives. I asked one of the girls if she could give an approximation of how many girls out of the 30 would never leave the village and become housewives. She said an alarming percentage: 98% of them. One of the girls, who looked about my age, perhaps a few years older, was already married.  I hope one day these girls will have both the physical and mental confidence to escape their circumstance and achieve their dreams. 

Discussing the issues women face in the world and how to build confidence.

Practicing knife hand strike. 

A picture I took of the women in the village.Wow, really admire these women for their mental strength for carrying such a heavy load  in about 110 degree weather. Makes you appreciate how easy life is for many of us in the world. 

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