I learned a few valuable lessons after my experience in Haripuram last night. First, never take anything for granted, and second, you cannot do anything alone.
When thinking up the lessons, I had banked on having the traditional Kolattam activity to get everyone in a mood where they would sit and listen for a few minutes.
That didn’t work out too well.
Some of the kids who I talked to afterwards (cropped for decency standards)
I even had coordinated with Nokaraju, the gentleman in Haripuram who puts together Kolattam and other social and cultural programs for children. He had told me that if I came to Haripuram around 6 pm, he would arrange a Kolattam practice so that I could see and maybe even learn some of the dance. When I arrived, I couldn’t find Nokaraju anywhere, and none of the kids seemed to think there was a Kolattam practice that evening. When I finally tracked him down, he told me that one of the girls in the program had “matured” and so her family wasn’t sending any kids. This was, apparently, reason enough to cancel Kolattam for the foreseeable future.
Trying to make the most of the situation, I asked him for his help in rounding up some more children. He said he was busy, though, and left. I did what I could, got 21 kids to sit, and talked to them about these issues. It didn’t sink in, though. They correctly answered my questions about when to wash hands and how to do it, they practiced with me, and they even told passing adults, but ask them today, and I don’t know how many of those children could tell you what we talked about. It’s repetition and practice that’ll drill it into their heads, though, and I have a few weeks left to do that.
We all went to Giri’s house afterwards to hang out!
I think that’s one of the hardest parts about independent projects. When someone, especially a community member, drops you in the middle of the ocean leaving yourself to swim, there’s no one to turn to. Even at BCT, they suddenly left me to myself a couple of weeks ago. I won’t lie, it is pretty frustrating.
I’m hoping today in Bhogapuram will be better – I know the guys arranging the Kolattam much better, and I feel more confident that they will not flake on me. Still, to make sure this doesn’t happen next week in Haripuram, I enlisted a couple more guys my age to help out. I’ll be sharing lesson plans with them early next week, and hopefully things will be smoother.
Yesterday was a rough learning experience. I thought I had it figured out, but everything fell apart in the span of minutes. Lemonade from the lemons, though. Bhogapuram update later tonight.