Inside the Government
OK, so I am starting this blog post from within the Orissa State building. My secretary has abandoned me to represent the Organisation in a meeting about the rehabilitation scheme that I wrote.... I was not aware that I would be the one proposing it to the government... without anyone else from the OAB! I am in a room with mostly men... about 15 of them and one other woman. The meeting was to start at 3pm … we showed up at 3:10pm to an empty room.
Scary government building.
It is now 3:46pm... still not started. I had no idea that I would be doing this upon arriving at the office this morning. Also, everyone in the room is casually chatting, in Oriya, and none of them have made an effort to say hello to me... hence the blogging. Oh and about 15 mins ago a man handed me a sheet to “sign in”... after I wrote the details like my name and organisation, he took it over to his seat and read it with his neighbour for about 5 mins before actually passing it along. He could have just asked me what the heck I was doing here.
After all was said and done there was not much to report about the meeting. It was more of an open discussion about a power point presentation they gave. The presentation was in English and the discussion was about 50/50 of English and Oriya. They presented a draft of ideas for the rehabilitation scheme and the NGO representatives were there to critique them. I did my best to pipe up and make sure the vision impaired are included in the scheme but it was hard. There were multiple conversations happening at once and they all seemed to talk over each other... not like any meeting I have had in Canada.
Feeling better on the lawn outside, after the whole ordeal.
OAB week 3 and 4
The last couple weeks at work have been a little slower. I have done some training with Samad on how to write queries in access and I am still attempting to find a suitable and free email client for someone who is 100% blind. I was disappointed to learn that gmail is not very accessible. I have also started to download books for the OAB from free online sources and I will be printing them in Braille for the library here. As for work that is about it. I finally got the chance to sit down and talk to the secretary this week about starting to clean up the computers in the lab and begin designing the job matching software that they need. Exciting!
Jenissa, Lucy and I took a trip to the Khandagiri Caves which is the site one of many temples here in Bhubaneswar. These caves were carved into the side of a hill and lead up to a temple. It was nice to do something that was equivalent to hiking back in Canada. The only downside being the garbage everywhere. We did take a wrong turn and exited the grounds via a construction site with a helpful man who let us pass through.
Ahhhhhhh! Face rock!
Jen(my roommate) and I posing at the caves.
Happy Birthday Louis Braille
It was the 201st birthday anniversary of Louis Braille on January 4th. The OAB had prepared a remembrance and celebration ceremony that night. Again, I got to light candles for the puja and was presented with flowers. Most of the speeches were in Oriya so I tried hard to listen for words that I knew and just clapped when everyone else clapped. The OAB was presented with some materials for learning by one of the Orissa state ministers that I had a chance to sit down and speak with for a little while. He told me that Canada has one of the best (if not the best) democratic system in the world. He seemed to have nothing but good things to say to me about my country and he was very eager to do so.
Louis Braille puja table.
OAB members making music.
KISS Sports Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Dinner
A simple request to grab a drink on the weekend turned into an unexpected series of events. I had asked my friend Vicky if he wanted to meet some of the other volunteers in the area over drinks this weekend and he invited us all to a cocktail dinner at the Mayfair in honour of some university students from England.
That afternoon we also went to KISS (the tribal school) for a sports award ceremony. Little did we know that we would be as involved in the ceremony as we were. On the way in we walked past a massive field filled with children waiting for the ceremony to start. As we raised our cameras to take a few pictures ALL the children started to wave at us. It was a wonderful greeting by the 1500 or so kids. We were sat on stage with the esteemed guests and we were presented with garlands and a gift of a painting made by the students. We were acknowledged in the greetings and the closing words. After the awards were handed out we were etertained by songs, dance, yoga, and gymnastics.
Sitting on stage with all the other esteemed guests!
Crazy kid pyramid.
Afterward, we went home to get ready for the dinner... which was easy since Vicky lent us his fancy car and driver for the afternoon and evening. How generous! The dinner was wonderful... it was nice to enjoy a cocktail with food and not have it seem out of place. We got the chance to meet the British High Commissioner who was surprisingly easy to get on with... I was the only person who's country he didn't poke fun at. Go Canada!
Song from title: Map of the World by Monsters Of Folk