What brings my husband and I to India, besides visiting family and friends, is a commitment to accompanying and encouraging an underserved minority group, recently moved into makeshift neighborhoods, in developing family and community life. Over the last ten years, the project has pretty much settled on the mutually agreed-upon priority of supplementing the education of their children.
The latest addition to the project is a group of about sixty families living just half a block from a museum of local and Buddhist history in the village of Amaravathi. (Amaravathi is the name chosen from a trio of cities/towns rapidly being developed as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra
was divided in two, two years ago, with this, the east side of the 'old' state, retaining the name while the western portion, now named Telangana, retains the 'old' capital,Hyderabad.) Here, however, when I say Amaravathi, I'll just be talking about the neighborhood we're working with.
My husband was asked to consider working with this group, and made a visit or two last year to assess the situation. He was impressed with the need, and agreed with a few elders that we would provide a teacher to supervise and coach their youngsters in the evening. Then the search for a willing, educated person in a nearby neighborhood began.. We made one visit before one was found.
Visit number one: December , Visit to Amaravati Franklin and Shirley walked about a block from car to the church building where the evening school is to be held, just a few blocks from the bus stand, museum, and historic Buddhist sites which are being developed for tourism purposes. We sat on picnic chairs brought from homes nearby...homes ranging from sticks and rags to sticks and palm leafs to concrete block structures of one or more rooms, amidst piles of rock and sand for ongoing construction. Aside from the single concrete road on which we walked, there were no roads. People watched us, smiled if we made eye contact. Children gathered for the evening school—Franklin started interviewing them right away...many were unkempt, and in charge of a toddler or two. Children literally tumbled in and out the door whose threshold was four concrete steps and a high wooden lintel?)