Starting at the Grassroots Level – By Teleah Slater

June 28th, 2014

After being in India for about two weeks, today I finally started doing the grassroots community work I came here to do. I attended HIV workshop with the rickshaws with my supervisor, Abhinav and the foundation’s event coordinator, Bharat and it was an incredible experience. We traveled to the residential slums of Varanasi early in the morning before most of the men had to leave into the busier part of the city for work. I was informed that the brick and concrete structure I arrived to was very recently built, and up until six months ago the inhabitants of it had been living in essentially an empty lot, camped out there while they were in the city for work. Upwards of fifty people lived in this comparatively small space, with some individual rooms on the ground floor that seemed to be reserved for the oldest among them or those with families, but most of the men lived together in an open space on the second floor that seemed unfinished, as it only had three walls.

Abhinav and Bharat brought T-shirts for the men, which we handed out to the audience of over forty rickshaws. They featured facts about HIV/AIDs and HIV prevention in Hindi and began teaching about HIV by using the information on the shirts given out. The rickshaws reacted very well to this, as the meeting leaders engaged them by having all in attendance wear the shirt and called several up to the front to show what they were saying corresponded with their T-shirts. Even though I couldn’t really understand the workshop or really talk to any of the rickshaws, I was so excited to be there because I actually got to meet the people the foundation serves and witnessed their work while learning about an unique educational technique that I had never seen before. This has been the most satisfying thing that I have done since I got here and I really hope to do more work with it in the future.

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