After 22 hours of travel, I made it to Bengaluru safely Friday around 3am!
The days have felt strange in timing, but I had enough time to rest in order to make it to the field work training that took place on Saturday. The training was entirely in Kannada, as it served to train local women on how to navigate and intervene gender-based violence in their local communities. After reading all the articles my PI had sent for seminar and upon my arrival, there was truly nothing more amazing than having the project come to life through these training meetings.
It started with a song, one of the women began–her voice reaching every corner of the room–until eventually all of these women were joined together singing this song as though it was the anthem of their life. Without knowing the lyrics, I knew that was true. When the song was finished, Anu translated the words and summarized that the song was a collective statement of Indian women that femicide and violence against women were not to be tolerated anymore. In this moment, the power of stories, what goes told and untold about health and wellness, made its way to the center of my thoughts. There was something particularly powerful about their words, sung to open and close their training that made me think about the ways that health inequity gets communicated in dominant discourse. I will never take for granted the space that these women from Soukhya Project shared with me during my first days here.
The training continued with a recap of the previous module and report-backs from these champion trainees on their experiences working in households in their own community. Throughout, we ate and played a game, all of which I felt warmly welcomed to by all of the everyone in the room. As I got into an auto with one of the other project members, I could not help but think that everything that makes this project run is already here. All of what the participants need, they have in each other. I just hope that I can be of some service to ensuring that their work continues to be sustainable.
Outside of work, which is truly what brought me and my heart all the way here, I have been having a hard time navigating the city alone. It has been a very long time since I have had a room of my own, especially in a place away from the people I love, so loneliness has been a challenge in itself–but the women of Soukhya project remind me why I am here. Also, the streets are very busy and after about four days here, I feel confident in crossing the street strategically! The adjustments come and go in waves and I am overall looking forward to how this experience and project will evolve!
Jessica Angelica–Bengaluru, India