Visit to Wani Block of Yavatmal District
I have never been to a village like Borgaon before. This was the first time for me. Borgaon is a small village near Wani with about 260 families livinghere. I got the opportunity to spend time in this village to observethe Gram Panchayat Micro Planning process which was being done anenthusiastic team of young resource persons and field coordinators.This was the first time village experience since the gram panchayatsin Kerala where I come from are very different from those in the restof India. The household survey was being carried out and Iaccompanied the resource persons while they conducted householdsurveys. This was an enriching experience in terms of theunderstanding of the kind of living situation of the households,their education levels, livelihood issues etc. Also I could drawparallels from the survey we had conducted in the koliwadas inMumbai and understand the contrast and compare with kind of inputthat was obtained.
What struck me while roaming around the village was the lack ofsewage lined and the way the waste water was just let out into thecommon galis and not even a dug and directed outside. This reflectedthe utter lack of awareness regarding the health problems that couldresult out of this neglect. Water scarcity was another issue here. There was alsono provision of toilets and the villagers all were used to opendefecation which is again an critical health hazard. There was someinput from the villagers that when there is no water for daily needsthen there is no point in building toilets which would increaseconsumption of water! Even those household which had toilets.
One of the most memorable events was the Kishori Baithak which wasattended by about 30 teenage girls. An ice breaker called Bhasmasurwas a runaway success with the girls. This was followed by a storytold by the field coordinator which spoke about child marriage andlack of education and the consequences of the same. The KishoriBaithak was a very interesting session with lots of fun andinformation being parted to the girls about everything ranging fromimportance of education in the life of a girl, career, marriage andhealth. In addition we were able to get information about problems of school dropout, lack of uniforms, improper midday meals.
Another interesting event during this process was the Mahila Gram Sabha. Through various sources in the village we had come to know that this was the first gram sabha in last ten years. We were initially apprehensive about the participation of the women, we felt that many wouldn't turn up. But it was heartening to see more than 40 women turn up. In addition there were many young and old men who were curious to know what was happening. The presence of the gram sewak and sarpanch also made the people realise that this was a serious harbinger of change. This process went quite smoothly with discussion of village development and action plan. Also various concerns and issues were brought to the forefront.