ANTHRA – Experience Report 2013

IMG (10)

July – August 2013

by Aline Heimgarter

Going to ANTHRA for an Internship is a chance to work, laugh and live with the people from
India. It is a wonderful way to get to know the culture, the traditions and the history. This report
should give you the information you need to choose your NGO and should show you what your
work and life is going to be like with ANTHRA. But while you are there, you will realize, that
your own journey is completely different to any report you read, that’s what makes it such an
incredibly adventure.

Living in Pune

Pune is a city in the middle of the future and the past of India. It has many universities, movies and theaters, it is modern but at the same time struggling with the problems from the past. The inner center is very crowded, old and almost falling apart. It is a busy city full of colours and people. There are modern business hotels next to places where they wouldn’t have running water. The city is changing rapidly. Every year new shopping malls and hotels rise into the sky. There are amazing places to eat and hear music. Pune is full of hopes of a better education and a better future, full of young people driving on bikes looking like the movie stars you see in Bollywood films.

The apartment of ANTHRA is located outside of the city center near a main road. From there, it can take more than an hour to travel through to the other end of the city. Pune is not Mumbai, but its still a lot bigger than what we are used to. Two shopping malls and a movie theater is about 15 min away with a ritschka. They should not charge you more than 150 rupees for that distance (less if you like to barge).

It is a safe and very green area with hills and a lake not too far. The apartment is in the same building as the Office of the NGO. It’s comfortable and clean, has a kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and three beds. There is no TV or Wi-Fi but you can get Internet at the office. I recommend you to take a few movies and a good book, because at night, there is often not much to do. A shopping mal is located opposite the main road, so is a laundry and a few
eating-places. There is a lady called Mandl Bai who can cook amazing food for you if you want to and can also clean the apartment for a little bit of money.

Capture4

ANTHRA – The Organization

ANTHRA is an organization of women veterinary scientists working on issues of livestock development. They are working mainly with farmers, pastoralists, landless groups and especially with women from these marginalized communities. ANTHRA has two operating offices, in Hyderabad and Pune. I was located in Pune. The initial aim of the organization was to search for alternative systems for delivering livestock health and management practices to poor people, especially women in rural areas. Today, ANTHRA is a resource center offering training, research and advocacy initiatives in the areas of livestock, biodiversity and people’s livelihood.

My work at ANTHRA

For the first two weeks my work was manly to help out in the office. I was writing mails and doing paper work. Then I set up a blog for the pastoral alliance at wordpress.com, which should be used as a communications platform for an upcoming event in October. A few days after my arrival, we went to see one of the farms outside of Pune. It was there where I met the girls from the project “home away from home” for the first time.

The main goal of the project is to provide a place for girls, close to a school, where they can live in safety and finish their education. Those girls all come from a very disadvantaged background and live too far away to attend any school, as there are no buses or any kind of public transportation. The caretakers are farmers or single mothers. With a little salary, the caretakers are able to sent their own children to school and look after the girls as well.

Guy Poitevin, a French philosopher and his wife Hema Rairkar, an economist, first started the project. Poitevin founded The Village Community Development Association (VCDA) for sociocultural action in remote rural areas in 1978. Since Poitevin passed away in 2004, the project has been slowing down steadily.

ANTHRA has recently taken over two of the houses. This is the first time that ANTRHA has formally ventured into the support of homes like this. Therefore they do not have funds within the organization to support the school program yet.

thought it was a great idea and was very happy to work on the project. I set up a blog to connect the donors with the local people. With this, people could directly support the girls and see the results that their donation made on the webpage. Eventually, we hope to be able to open up a third house, which had to close down because they didn’t get enough funds.

One of my goals during my stay was to make it possible for future students from GTI to come to those houses, live there for a few days with the children and teach them in English and in computer skills. After a few days they could go back to Pune to their main house offered by ANTHRA. ANTHRA would still supervise the student but they would mainly work on the project “home away from home”, mostly with people who worked for it before.

Education is one of the most important things for those girls. Of course they need donations but anything they learn can never be taken from them again, it’s more valuable than anything material we can give them. Also, the villages the girls live in are in a process of experiencing how to practice democracy. It is very interesting to learn how the Indian democracy system works and why it is so hard to build a functioning democracy in rural areas. The students from
GTI would be able to attend meetings in the city and would be shown around by the nephew from Guy Povitrion, who I met and I’m sure will be happy to introduce the students.

Capture3

Travel to Goa

I had the amazing chance to travel with two girls I met in Pune to Goa. It was a journey full of laughter, chaos and wonders. Goa is a holiday place and you can feel it everywhere. The people are more relaxed and the atmosphere is good. We travelled there by a sleeping bus, which I can recommend to everyone. We stayed at my friends’ house in Goa, surrounded by beautiful nature, almost juggle. In the front garden was a huge mango tree.

I didn’t do other travels because at the end I just didn’t have enough time and at the beginning I was by myself and didn’t feel comfortable traveling. There are many other things too see and explore around Pune. I hope you’ll find time to see a bit more than I did. But I was sure I would go back so I wasn’t in any hurry.

Capture2

Expenses

India is probably the cheapest place on earth at the moment. I played about Fr. 140.- for one month living cost. That was my biggest expense beside the plain ticket. Everything else seems almost for free. The travel from Mumbai to Pune costs you Fr. 11.- with a taxi driver that the office will organize for you if you ask nicely. The rest is up to you. It depends on how much you are willing to bargain and how low budget you want to live. The bus ride to Goa was very cheap as well so was the stay there. Of course you can end up paying a lot more.

Conclusion

India has a surprise waiting on every corner. It is never boring, sometimes scary but always fascinating. Along with all the new experiences I made, the foods I tasted, the colours I saw an the sounds I heard, I made friends in India, that I hope will stay with me forever. If you choose to go to ANTHRA, you will be in
safe and carrying hands, I can only recommend it. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when you have questions and I would be very happy to meet anyone who knows that they are going to ANTHRA next year. Thanks to the Getaway to India team for organising everything and making this opportunity possible.
Special thanks to the ANTHRA team for taking such good care of me and Nitya, for welcoming me with such an open heart.

Capture