First week in Mumbai

India, Mumbai:
As part of my Bachelor degree in Social Work at Malmö University I spent five months earlier this year in Mumbai to carry out my field placement (Verksamhetsförlagd utbildning). The internship was with a non-governmental organisation called Vacha which focuses on girls’ and young women’s empowerment and education. Vacha is a term in several Indian languages meaning speech, articulation and self-expression and the organisation work to give the girls a voice and a platform to be able to speak up in their communities and public spaces. If you want to read more about their work in their community centres in and around Mumbai you can follow the link below: www.vacha.org.in

 

Going home in the “rik” Click for GIF

I am now back in Mumbai for a MFS and looking forward to further experience this fast paced and intense life that this city, with a population of about 22 million, has to offer. The people, the food, the sounds and the smells. The culture, the colours and celebrations. The luxury and the poverty. The traffic… well maybe not so much the traffic but at least you always have something interesting to look at while you are stuck in an auto rikshaw. Surrounded by hundreds of other “riks”, cars, motorbikes, trucks, dogs, goats, street sellers, all while in 36 degrees, breathing in the heavenly smell of pollution. How can one  not I love it?

 

Adventures in South Mumbai

 

 

India is the fastest growing economy in the world. However, not everyone seems to be onboard the fast moving train of progress. The Indian middle class might be growing but there is, for example, a gaping rural-urban divide as well as a gender discriminations when it comes to economic progress and development. So yes there is a whole bunch of inequalities in this country. Not only economic, but also when it comes to social rights  and opportunities. But there is also good things happening:

A ban of single use plastic
Decriminalizing homosexuality

The above links are just two examples of big top-level decisions. However, on grassroot level great things are happening every day. I have seen this during my internship and I get motivated by these hardworking people that want to see positive change in their communities and country.

So follow me on my two months minor field study to see where it takes me. In my next post I will introduce you to my project and the organisation I will be working with – Men Against Violence and Abuse.

Take care of eachother,

Petronella

Tanzania – a last reflection

During three months, I did a field study in Tanzania about aid and women’s education. I investigated two projects that focus on young women’s education. One of the projects is the Mama-course program, which gives pregnant girls a second chance to education, and the other is the Help-to-help foundation, which offers scholarships and skill-training to ambitious students who wish to study at university but don’t have the economic means to pay the tuition fees. After interviewing numerous people, I strongly believe that both of DSC02099these programs are important, and that they include a new way of thinking about aid. In my opinion, these projects respond to the local needs, build human capacity, and provide ground for making long-lasting changes in the society. They alter social norms, help people to be independent, and thus, empower the poor and marginalized.

The time I spent in Tanzania was valuable, and I learned a lot. I will certainly miss the friends I got and the adventures I woke up to every day. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me with various things, participated in my study, and made my stay a blessed one. In very few places, I have received so much love.

Nevertheless, there are numerous issues in Tanzania that are problematic and hinder its development. The country has been dependent on foreign aid for decades, and this without showing much progress. One might ask if the external support impede on the government responsibility to provide political goods to its population. Is aid a solution for development, and if so, how should the external support be carried out?DSC02923

The government aspires for Tanzania to be a middle-income country in the near future. And indeed, it is a country with resources, and the economic growth has been high for several years, with an annual growth rate around 7 %. However, the majority of the population is still living in poverty, with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Gender equality is far from reached. Women are still doing most of the work in the household, they are often discouraged to make their voices heard, and they might not have the right to decide over their own bodies. Forced marriages, early pregnancies, and sexual violence occur. Domestic violence is more a rule than an exception. In many schools, children are beaten by their teachers if they don’t behave in a disciplined way. The pupils might be punished if they fail an exam, have a sexual relationship, or are late to school because they had to work in the morning.

Nonetheless, most Tanzanians I met were proud of their reputation of being so peaceful. But from my view-point, it seems to be a long way to go before peace has occurred at all levels in their society.

IMG_2930A sustainable development must include empowerment of the disadvantaged.  All people should have the right to a decent life, without discrimination or violence. I went to Tanzania with the idea that education is the ground for development. But education is not enough. It must be qualitative, based on individual needs, and it should provide for life-long learning. To have a school system in which the students are worried about not being able to pay the school fees, are afraid to be beaten, and are not allowed to ask questions or think critically, and where boys and girls do not have the same chance to finish their studies, it might be very difficult to develop to a middle-income country. The change must come from within. Economic development is not the same as sustainable development. Education is a step, but it must be carried out in a way that provides for the people to be able to build the country. If aid should be a way to reach these goals, it must help people to help themselves towards a sustainable development. I hope that people will get the chance to understand their capacity to change their lives and to improve their conditions. It’s time that Human Rights become global norms.

 

The blog was originally published on: http://fufkorrespondenterna.com/2015/07/13/tanzania-a-last-reflection/

Time travels fast…

The rain has just passed, the sun is slowly coming out, and the wind is decreasing. Soon the sky will be blue again and the temperature will rise.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset I’m sitting on the balcony, looking at the palm trees, and listening to the songs from the birds. Today I have been in Tanzania for two months. I am back in Dar es Salaam.

For the past five weeks, I have been travelling around Tanzania, working on my projects, making interviews, talking to people. My first impression when I arrive here was that people are very friendly and helpful, and this view remains. In all places I have been, I have made many new friends. People say that the Tanzanians are peaceful and warm people, and I am keen to agree.

Nevertheless, there are many problems facing people here in Tanzania. Corruption is common, poverty is widespread, children are out of schools, and every day some people IMG_2933fight for survival. They struggle to meet their basic needs. Some people in the villages just eat once in a day. The food is simple: ugali (a local porridge of maize flour) or perhaps rice and beans. If being lucky, maybe they can add some vegetables, fruits, or eggs. It varies from one day to another. Moreover, the value of the dollar is increasing right now, and it does affect the Tanzanians. The Tanzanian shilling is getting weaker. Food, hygiene articles, medicine, oil etc. are likely to become increasingly expensive. The external support they were receiving from other countries is weakened. For some of the people, life is hard.

Frequently, people ask me for money. They hope that I could help them. They think that the solution might come from external givers: that we in the West have the money and capacity. I understand how they think, and in some senses they are right. We are extremely lucky to be born where we were born. But I do not believe that the solution is external support in that way. I believe that Tanzania has all the potential to decrease the gaps, reduce poverty, and to prosper. Tanzania has resources, they have human capacity, they have willingness to develop, and the people want to have a good and peaceful life. The main problem is that many are lacking capital and/or knowledge how to proceed with their future objectives. And there, I believe external support could help, to give the main tools for development. Then, external support could be sustainable, and help in the long-term perspective.

DSC02130

Even so, the way towards sustainable development might be a long journey to walk for Tanzania. But change could also happen very fast here. Already, I notice that there is a shift in people’s mindsets and many Tanzanian I talked to believe that good education and equality is vital for their future development.

In October this year there is an election in Tanzania. My fingers are crossed that people will use their right to vote, and that good governance, provision of political goods, and human rights will be prioritized and implemented by the political party that wins.

 

The blog was originally publiced on:

http://fufkorrespondenterna.com/2015/05/31/time-travels-fast/