Marginalized Community Empowerment in Janauri – Spring Update!

After months of working closely with the marginalized community in Januri, aspiring to build personal connections and trust, the relationship between the migrants (also known as the people in the marginalized community) and the interns is now in a place of great synergy and dynamism! We are totally welcome at the migrant camp, and we can see that they are comfortable with our presence, as well as also finding ourselves equally comfortable with them.

A couple of the migrant girls that we work closely with in our projects

A couple of the girls that we work closely with in our projects

We have continued with the Tuesday and Thursday English classes. They take place in the mornings at our office; a small group of young women attend these classes. Then in the afternoon, we work with the children at the camp, focusing on English and arithmetic classes. We have already begun to see the improvements in their knowledge and comprehension. Most of them already know the alphabet and some know the body parts, numbers, and colours. This coming week, two new interns, Carla and Elise will be arriving. They will take over the education classes, and work towards restructuring them. I am sure in the next couple of months we are going to continue to see great improvement with their education. Although a small portion of the children attend school, many of them do not. Therefore these classes are the only source of external education they are receiving! With the arrival of Carla and Elise, we will now be a team of five people working in the Marginalized Community Empowerment (MCE) project. We will take advantage of our increased numbers, and expand our classes into possibly different and diversified level groups. Thus enabling, every kid to have their personal needs attended to, and no one will fell left behind – as we going to aim for as many levels as there are kids in attendance.

MCE Project Manager, Iria, helping teach some of the migrant children in one of the classes.

MCE Project Manager, Iria, helping teach some of the children in one of the classes.

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The new location of our office will also help continue with the progress of the MCE project in Januri. We are working hard to get the new space by mid-April. Our new “office” will serve as a multi-purpose space, containing our own intern workspace, Education Career Resource Center – ECRC, library, classroom, and REstore shop (a small shop in which we-in conjunction with the migrants, will sell reusable, recycled items). We are hoping that this will not only be a professional environment, but also a space for the young women and children to come and enjoy a moment away from work and responsibility; as well as serving as safe environment, where they can relax and feel comfortable discussing private and personal matters.

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With these coming changes, I will take over the Health camp with the migrants. The Health camp hasn’t officially started yet. We have been in the planning phase for a couple months now and we are nearing our implementation phase. The short term goals of this project are to take the people that already have an illness to be checked by a doctor and ensure that they are receiving the proper attention and cure needed. Eventually, we want to help empower these individuals to address their  own medical issues independent of our support. Currently, there is a family with tuberculosis, a lady with kidney stones—who suffers from severe pain, and a little boy with an ear infection that is causing him many hearing problems. In the next couple of weeks, I will focus primarily on this target group, and continue to research various Ayurvedic and natural remedies that can help alleviate their pain. I believe a holistic approach will be more accessible to the migrants than purely a standard Western medical model, as there is much distrust and discrimination from both sides.

Carla, along with Iria, will both be assisting with the Health Camp.

Carla, along with Iria, will both be assisting with the Health Camp.

In the next coming months, another Microempowerd intern, Adrien, and I, will be working on developing a new small project that has come to us by the suggestions of the local community in Januri. Some of the local neighborhood are interested in us going to the schools and speaking with the children. We are therefore going to take advantage of this invitation and create little class room sessions with the kids, discussing global geography, cultural diversity & sensitivity, environmental conservation,  waste management, and human rights – touching upon the caste system, as well as human rights on a broader scale. Adrien and I are now in the process of creating the interactive material. Once this is completed, we will begin our visit to the local schools!

So, as you can see, there are many projects going on in the Januri village and Paro Township at large. There is a lot of energy and work to be accomplished!

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Iria Paz, Spain

Project Manager – Marginalized Community Empowerment

Janauri, Punjab; April 2013

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