In the past two days I spent a quite a bit of time trying to understand Usha. She spent most of the time that we were together learning how to use my camera, iPhone, and laptop.
At first she wanted to learn how to take pictures. I showed her how to take pictures on my Canon Rebel and then how to take pictures on my IPhone. Soon she discovered that my IPhone plays music. She quickly learned how to put my headphones in and switch to different songs on my playlist. Eventually she sat there on the cot with the music blasting in her ears, giggling and screaming how much she enjoyed the beat. Last night she asked to listen to the music while she dried the dishes, so I handed her the headphones and she was soon singing along (not completely) to Ellie Goulding and Of Monsters and Men. She didn’t understand a word of what she was saying, but quickly picked up on the dialect and a few of the main words.
Today she discovered how to slide to different screens, switch to different apps, and turn on the music. I was amazed at how much progress a girl, who has barely had any education picked up on how to use a piece of technology she has never seen before.
Today, we sat on my laptop for an hour and watched old Hindi movie clips. She sat on the cot and pointed to different video clips and asked me to read the clip names out loud. She now knows and understands words like ‘video’ and ‘loading’. Through exposing her to a little bit of technology in the past two days I have seen a tremendous amount of increase in her English vocabulary and ability to use technology.
This just shows how much technology can make a difference when it is paired with education.
As I mentioned in many of my blog posts last year, there is still a great amount of class separation existent in the village. When Usha eats her dinner and lunch, she eats outside separate from her employer. We have told her, numerous times, to come inside and eat, but she feels shy. On my first night here I, along with my cousin’s son went outside to eat with her. She felt uncomfortable and did not properly eat. During the times I ate alone with her, she didn’t seem to have a problem.
While we were using my computer, she told me she needed to use the bathroom and was going out back. I asked her to just use our bathroom here, but she said she’s cannot. I told her that’s rubbish and to go use the bathroom we have here. She entered cautiously and I soon realized that that was her first time in her life using a proper bathroom.
Not even twenty minutes later she told me she was thirsty. I told her the water pot is there and does not need to ask my permission. She asked me to get the water for her and I asked her why. She replied by saying that she is not allowed to touch the same water jug we drink out of. Once again, I told her that to think that is rubbish and to go ahead and get the water herself. After trying to make her understand that there is no barrier between what I use, touch, and do, she still felt uncomfortable. Telling her once or twice isn’t going to do anything. She has grown up feeling and experiencing different from others.
Aahana’s hope is that one day we can work to eliminate these barriers so that girls like Usha do not feel the need to eat separately or use a separate restroom.