Startup Service is an initiative for turning your service intention into action. It brings together people from diverse backgrounds and facilitates the process of starting a new project, adding momentum to an existing project, or collaborating with like-hearted participants on emerging projects.
For us it was pleasure to participate in startup service. It was really great experience for us. When we participate we were alone but at the end of the startup service we were a family together. We have kind of fear that there is lot many idea there how we are going to survive but the leaf of faith with us and that familyer atmosphere help us. Moved by love family was really really supportive and loving. It was really pleasure to see people who come to support gramsetu project. We were touched that friends who volunteer for us some of them make small flim for gramsety, somebody was woke up till 6:00 AM in the morning to work on idea and presentation and somebody was offering us to tea and some snacks. Everyone is supporting everyone. So many people travel from different part of the country. We feel blessed that we participated.
This past weekend found us in Khoba to attend a samuh lagan hosted by Neelam Bhai. A samuh lagan ( literal translation : group marriage) is where several couples get married at the same time. This one was held after almost 4 years and the villagers definitely knew how to make a celebration out of it.
The ceremony was spread out over two days in a giant mandap (tent) built in the middle of the village. The entire village was flooded with people and you could barely walk! To put this into perspective, the village has a total population of 450. Around 3500 people are estimated to have visited the village in those two days. The first day found the brides and grooms splashed and splattered in yellow during the haldi ceremony.
The music started in the evening and with that the people thronged in along with various stalls and shops. It was a big dance party where the entire village joined in. You could hear constant warnings over the mic that the people not indulge in consumption or trade of alcohol. The party went on till the wee hours of the morning and it was only around 6 am the next morning that silence reigned. But not for long.
The big day was here. To our amazement, in the morning around 6, the villagers had took it upon themselves to clean the entire village! So enthusiastic and invested were the villagers that voluntarily, they took it upon themselves to clean the village.You could see the women sweeping and clearing up the garbage from the night before. Very soon, it was time for the ceremony to start. By the time they were done, the village was so pristine that you would be hard pressed to find that same level of cleanliness anywhere in the city. The brides sat beautifully dressed in blue, awaiting their grooms. The grooms came perched upon their friends/brothers shoulders and descended to the mandap in glory.
As people started coming into the function, noise and cheer increased. School kids performed for the couples and guests and the ceremony begun. The wedding came and went but our feeling of amazement and happiness didn’t. We were so moved and inspired by the level of commitment and self-discipline that the villagers displayed! We think that that we go to the villages to give them something but in reality, we end up taking away so much more. To think that Khoba would come this far was truly a great achievement for the villagers and for Nilam Bhai.
After travelling to 3 villages and meeting local NGOs, we came to the village Bhatwada. Village is located on the banks of the river Tapi. It had been a great trip up until now and we had been travelling to mountain areas of Gujarat. The landscapes were very beautiful and you could really connect with your self. It was just a very good place for connecting with your inner self, moving ahead in your spiritual journey as well as gramsetu’s journey.
From day one till when we reached bhatwada, all the places was offering us very good local delicious food. Food plays a very important role during travelling. But friends, I want to ask you one question,”Will you serve community if you don’t have food for yourself?”
Yes, that question occurred to us and we were not sure. But when we reached bhatwada village and met AshokBhai we got to know that he didn’t even have basic groceries for him self. We were shocked as the major question was what will he eat?! Despite all that, he hosted us and offered us food. Every morning we had fresh milk tea. In the afternoons we had rice and dal. And we got a chance to eat organic mangoes and so much other food.
We salute Ashok Bhai , who despite all the difficulties, hosted us and voluntarily decided to serve the village and work for the upliftment of the tribal community.
We located 10 needy villages in Gujarat and so far till we have travelled to 5 different villages of Gujarat. It was indeed a great experience to reach out to so many people and get a chance to know their problems. One of the first destination was Khoba village. Village is located near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra and village is so small it’s not even in the map of gujarat. Here we are sharing the most heart-breaking story of the village.
So, here, the governments of Gujarat, Maharastra and Madhypradesh is planning to build 7 dams in a row. This area of gujarat is know as the most rainy place of Gujarat. So in rainy season, a lot of rain water goes to waste. Hence the government is planning to make dams. But in that same mountain area there are 152 villages. If the government decides to make these dams, 70 villages will be underwater. And all tribal people will have to leave their land and their homes. This is place were their forefathers were living for hundreds of years. Now all the tribal people have decided to come together and organize a movement against the government. Although it is true that because of the building of these dams, water conservation will happen and help thousands of people but what of the hundreds living in the area and made to leave their homes? This water saving help thousands of people in the city but what about this people??? Is it fair to ask them to sacrifice their homes and livelihoods?
Dam site 2
We’re slowly finding out that the existence of these tribes is being wiped off. What do you think about this issue? Share your thoughts with us.