The two-day rural exposure camp at Kolar undertaken by the final year UG students of Sociology department as a part of the elective course ‘Study of Social Movements’ was an extremely enlightening experience and a great opportunity for reciprocal learning. Spread over 1st and 2nd of February, it was organised by Department of Sociology in collaboration with the CSA at CHRIST (deemed to be University). The students engaged in several activities and undertook surveys and made interesting observations about the varied aspects of the lives of people in Kolar district. The project leaders at the CSA camp in Srinivasapura, Kolar welcomed us with energizing ice breaker games that really shook us all out of our drowsiness. Following some fun and games we got down to business, starting with an address by the project leader Mr. Anjan and Mr. Nagaraja. We were divided into three groups that visited three separate areas within Srinivasapura with two main objectives: (1) to conduct activities on personal safety and hygiene (2) to go on house visits so we get a feel of how the families are doing in the area.
One group had the opportunity of exploring Muthukapalli. Mrs. Aruna, the leader of the self-help group working in this area showed us the hospital, panchayat, activity center, schools and PU college in the area. The schools and hospitals were extremely well maintained. Most families were sending their children to school, had functional toilets and did not experience any conflicts with their neighbours. Following the house visits, the volunteers engaged with the students of the activity centre, where we were addressing around 60 enthusiastic children about personal safety and hygiene.
The second team visited a village called Yamunanur. Our experience at the village began with the village transact, where in the project coordinator took the students on a short tour of the village. He also introduced them to the local crops and plants growing in the vicinity of the village. After the village tour, house visits were conducted. Topics discussed included child marriage, education, and water supply issues. Surprisingly enough, the people did not seem to support the idea of child marriage and wanted their daughters to get educated before getting married. Talking about water supply, they mentioned that each day, they had to walk to another village which was several kilometres away to fetch water. This gave us an insight into the hardships faced by the villagers on a day-to-day basis. It was saddening to observe that many houses didn’t pay attention to sanitation.
The third group visited a village called Gandhinagar. The interaction with the villagers were generally based on areas like health, sanitation, occupation and Self-Help Groups. The activity center was carried in one of the houses nearby. The students gathered every evening and were assisted by some guides who helped them in their academic and other activities. The activities planned for senior students were dream tree, self-defense, moral values and personal hygiene.
Our interactions reminded us of the realities of people’s lives other than ourselves. It has reminded us to be grateful for the resources we have. It has enabled us to take our classroom learning onto the field and realize that women’s empowerment, community-based development and so on are real phenomena out there that people are engaging in and benefiting from. Srinivasapura is also testament to the fact that the community can be united on the lines of children’s education, sanitation and health by keeping aside political and caste based differences.