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Tribal Village ~ Time Travel

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I have spent the last week visiting very remote HHI training sites in Southern India. It has been an almost indescribable experience, India at times gives me the feeling of traveling through time. The first site I visited here with Sujatha, HHI's local trainer, was a tribal village of 20 families. This group was living in a cave on the side of the mountain (see photo below) until about 3 years ago, when the government built them a modest, and semi-modern village at the base of the mountain. The motivation from the government was that at the top of this mountain is a sacred temple and is therefore a significant and increasingly trafficked pilgrimage site. They now have cement homes, a nearby school (which some of their youngest are now attending as the first generation to receive a formal education), they also have running water, and TV satellite dishes.

The mommies here are as young as 13-years-old and they are married most often to much older men and polygamy is the norm, with each man having 3-4 wives. They are very eager to grow their tribe and each woman has 2-5 children. This group was a fascinating glimpse into a completely unknown world to me. I was very curious about what they learned from HHI's training and what of that did they choose to apply. With the help of Sujatha translating, I was able to learn that they had understood some of HHI's core lessons, mostly in regards to hygiene. Previously the babies were not so much toilet trained, as left alone to soil the floors of the cave and now more recently the houses. The mommies reported that they now understood the health and sanitation issues that this caused and they were more attentive, taking the young ones outside and encouraging toileting there, as well as cleaning them after.

Other answers were about the women keeping themselves and their children cleaner, particularly for the hygiene of breastfeeding, but again ensuring improved hygiene for all the children with more regular bathing. This was demonstrated behind me by an older brother holding a hose over his little brother while I was speaking with the mothers - it looked like they were having fun!

The whole concept of attending a training was a very new idea to this group, as none had even attended any formal schooling, nor any type of training before. They were a lively group, preferring movement to sitting and activities to lecture - luckily HHI is designed with these ideals firming in place and they had a very positive first experience.

My compliments to Sujatha for her work with these mommies and also, my compliments to these mommies for being willing to learn and try new things in effort to provide their children with better health.

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