Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 1 (August 3rd, 2013)

Today was my first day visiting the village of Paushi. This visit was used to survey the village and plan how to implement the Digital Literacy Project in Paushi. We started our trip around 7 AM, traveling along "Bombay Road" en route to Paushi. The road was pretty smooth and did not contain many pot-holes, despite the heavy monsoon rains. We stopped at the roadside, New Taramat Hotel in Kolaghat, West Bengal for a local breakfast. As we continued on the journey to Paushi, we tested two wireless USB sticks (AirTel & Tata Docomo), in the car, to compare the effectiveness of each in rural areas. As expected, both connections began to fade as we moved farther away from the main city of Kolkata. Eventually, the Docomo USB failed to create a connection, while the AirTel connection was still functioning. We decided that an AirTel connection would be best for the computer in the village. Since the AirTel USB that we used was borrowed from a neighbor, we will purchase a new one tomorrow. We continued for several hours, passing rice paddies and other types of tropical vegetation.

An interesting event took place upon reaching Paushi. After disembarking the car, we noticed that the van got stuck in mud. One of the wheels was deeply lodged in the mud, a few yards away from a river. A large group of small school children who were passing by noticed the stranded car, and suggested that we place wooden boards and large rocks in front of the tires, hoping that the wheel would roll out of the mud and onto the boards and rocks. This did not work, as the tire dug itself deeper into the mud, but it was interesting to see how creative the children in the village were. Without hesitation after the tire dug deeper, they all ran behind the van, and started to help push the vehicle out of the mud. With a large team effort, the car was able to escape the mud, and safely reach the dirt road. After being in Paushi for just 5-10 minutes, I got a good understanding of how friendly and helpful the villagers are.

We proceeded to the house of the village physical therapist, Mr. Prabodh Kumar Manna, who is also in charge of operating the library in Paushi. He was very friendly and gave us a tour of the library. We were surprised to learn that the entire building was made of hardened mud and clay. He gave us basic information on how many children visit the library, and a brief description of the village as a whole, including the fact that its population was 4,000 people. I also learned that Paushi's main source of income was connected to harvesting rice and cultivating shrimp for exporting.

After learning about the village, I started to plan out where to set up the computer in the library. We took the measurements of the room and the distance to the power outlet. Since there was no table present, we requested Mr. Manna to order a computer table for the library.  Following the tour of the library, we ate lunch at the doctor's house. His wife prepared a large meal, comprised of fruits and vegetables all grown in Paushi. The entire meal was cooked on a wood-burning stove.

After lunch, we met the local school teacher named Mr. Swapan Jana. He volunteered to help teach the computer material to the children. Mr. Jana, in fact has a bachelors degree in Electronics Engineering, and is therefore extremely familiar with computers. We feel as though Mr. Jana is the perfect teacher in Paushi to teach the Digital Literacy.

We left Paushi in the late afternoon, and reached home, in Kolkata at 10 pm. We plan on buying the computer parts on Monday, and then returning to the village on Wednesday to start setting it up. 

1 comment:

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