This was my first week working with Jeevika and I am already totally invested in its mission and its work. Jeevika is run by a group of people who have a very strong commitment to women's rights within their area. There approach consists of giving both economic and social empowerment to women. They believe that you cannot just give women the monetary means to succeed, this must be paired with awareness of the social barriers that restrict women. The coolest thing about Jeevika is that they involve the community women within all their programs and work to address the problems that these women have identified within their own community. Their mircofinance program is now almost completely run by the women who use it.
This week I've just been getting familiar with Jeevika's programs and viewpoints as well as the climate around women's issues in Kolkata and their district South 24 Parganas. The most prevalent problem Jeevika and the community women have identified is child marriage. That's what my research has been focused on this week. I'm looking forward to getting further involved with this issue as well as meeting some of the community women.
Kolkata itself is really something. The traffic is like nothing I've ever experienced. I take auto rickshaws to work and they will squeeze into spaces that I am positive they won't fit through. There are also so many people everywhere I go. I also saw a monkey on my way to work today!
My landlord and his family have been very helpful! They have given me directions around the city as well as shown me the market area, which is right by my house. I went shopping in the market and never has a mundane task been such an adventure! I'm glad I had someone with me who spoke Bengali or I probably would have got lost and had to sleep in the market. It was worth it though because I ate the best mango I will probably ever eat in my life. Tomorrow I'm venturing into the city by myself so wish me luck!