Archive for April, 2010

India: Community Journalism in the Slums

Posted on April 27, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, Media, women.

MUMBAI, India — Zulekha Sayyed sits with the men. They talk about the garbage dump directly behind their community and how the children have been playing in it and getting sick. As the wife of one of the men serves the group tea, the men say the dump’s stench gets worse when night falls.

The wife returns to the kitchen. The mother-in-law sits on the floor and serves her grandchildren breakfast. She tears off a piece of roti, kneads it in a metal bowl of milk and sugar and then places the bite in the toddler’s mouth.

Zulekha, 21, keeps talking. She looks directly into the eyes of the men, three construction supervisors who all live in a poor area of Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai. She asks them questions. She laughs with them. She tells them what she thinks they should do to force the local government to respond to their complaints.

In a world where women usually observe quietly, Zulekha — a community journalist who reports on the very slum she lives in — stands out for her bold willingness to work for change.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

On Remote Island Village, Health Worker Challenges Tradition

Posted on April 27, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

AZIMOR, India — After a couple hours of cruising down the Brahmaputra River, the boat clinic arrives at a desolate mud bank. A fisherman nearby dips his pole into the water and pulls up a large net. Two community workers emerge from the boat and set off with a box of medical supplies towards the thatch-roof homes in the distance.

The doctors, nurses and I follow behind, zigzagging through the rain-soaked grass. We take off our shoes to wade through the flooded areas. The air feels fresh and crisp. With no roads or vehicles on the island, the only sounds we hear are roosters, cows and our feet sloshing through the water.

About 1,200 Bengali-speaking Muslims live in Azimor village. They have no electricity, toilets or clean drinking water. There is a primary school, which consists of a one-room structure made out of bamboo walls and a tin roof. The week before our arrival a storm had picked up the school and dropped it off in another part of the village.

Continue reading at True/Slant.

This reporting was sponsored by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Learn more about this reporting project.

Follow Hanna’s tweets from Assam @Hanna_India

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

India: The Orphans of HIV

Posted on April 26, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — Three teenage girls pull up chairs and form a semi-circle around me. Sabeena, whose pigtails and wide eyes make her look younger than her 15 years, carries a bowl of grapes and offers them to me. No, no, I tell her, I’m fine. “Take one,” she insists. I oblige.

Her friend, Amrita, also 15, tells me she is in her last year of high school. How long have you lived at this orphanage, I ask.

She smiles and puts her hand over her mouth. “One second, no?” she says and runs into the kitchen to ask the correct English word from Sister Shanti Remedios, the sister-in-charge of the HIV section at St. Catherine’s Home in Mumbai.

Amrita runs back and jumps onto her seat: “13 years.”

I try to ask the girls about life in the orphanage and living with HIV. I ask where they will go once they turn 18 or 19 and must move out. They do not want to discuss it.

“Which Hindi movie is your favorite?” Sabeena asks me.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

Assam: Boat Clinics Serve India’s Isolated Villages

Posted on April 23, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

GUWAHATI, India — We load up in an SUV and make our way through the streets of Guwahati. It is raining, and much of this major city in northeastern India is flooded. Cars, men pedaling rickshaws and our SUV slowly edge their way through the water-filled streets. The water looks orange, stained from the clay that has eroded from the surrounding hills and clogged Guwahati’s drains. We are headed to meet a boat that will take a group of medical staff and us to visit a remote island on the Brahmaputra River.

A dark cloud forms overhead, and we hope it doesn’t storm. If it rains too hard, the villagers are less likely to come meet the temporary clinic the medical staff will set up on the island. If it storms, our boat won’t be able to go at all. We – like the villagers – are in the hands of the rain.

About 3 million people live along the Brahmaputra, a massive river that stretches from Tibet to Bangladesh. The boat clinics, run by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) with funding from the Indian government and UNICEF, work in 10 of the 15 districts on the river. They have reached over 300,000 people since they began in 2005.

Continue reading at True/Slant.

This reporting was sponsored by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Learn more about this reporting project.

Follow Hanna’s tweets from Assam @Hanna_India

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

India Smoking: A Ban in Mumbai Sticks

Posted on April 12, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — The comedian wraps up his act, and announces a seven-minute intermission. Audience members rise and file towards the door. Seven minutes – exactly enough time to get in a smoke. A group of friends forms a circle on the street. All light up.

Such a scene is common in cities like New York, San Francisco and London. But this is India. It’s Mumbai, to be precise, a city not exactly known for its cleanliness and public hygiene.

In Mumbai — with 18 million people and not enough space for all of them — the masses eat, shop, sleep, spit, defecate and throw their trash directly onto the streets.

Many men do not look twice before spitting onto the sidewalk red juice from chewing paan, a leaf wrapped around spices, nuts and often tobacco. Drivers lean out their rickshaws, which carry stickers reading “Spitting causes TB [tuberculosis],” and hack phlegm directly onto the road, often less than a foot away from other cars and pedestrians. Some people open the windows to their cars and houses and casually chuck trash outside.

When a ferry reaches Alibag, a coastal town south of Mumbai, passengers gather their garbage and throw it into the water. Children in slum areas squat over open sewers. Even in middle class suburbs, it is not unusual to see naked street children defecating on the side of a busy road.

But not everywhere.

For all the grime on the outside, step into one of Mumbai’s restaurants, cafes, bars or even discos, and you find another world: a fresh and clean one.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

Transgender India: Banned in Bombay?

Posted on April 10, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International.

MUMBAI, India — Laxmi Tripathi stands tall and proud. She — who used to go by he — wears her hair long, her eyes decorated with thick black eyeliner and a low-cut top that reveals a hint of cleavage. Bangles adorn her wrists. Hailed as a success story in India, Tripathi has spoken at the United Nations and addressed conferences around the world on the rights of the transgender community.

And yet, being somewhat of a celebrity activist did not shield Tripathi from the very discrimination she has denounced.

Last week, officials at the Bombay Gymkhana in South Mumbai interrupted a dinner party there to kick Tripathi out of the exclusive club.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter: @Hanna_India

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

Twitter Suicide

Posted on April 6, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under International, Media.

MUMBAI, India — My mother took it the hardest. “There must be a number you can call,” she said, practically pleading with me over the phone. “They are a company – they must have customer service.”

“I tried, Mom,” I said. “They won’t fix it. We have to move on.”

Hours earlier, while my mother was sleeping, content in thinking her daughter had hundreds of followers, I hit one seemingly innocuous but very bad button. In a second, I went from having a community of friends, readers, supporters, sources and confidants – to having no one.

I had accidentally deleted my Twitter account.

Continue reading at True/Slant or at the Huffington Post.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments

For India’s Jews, Passover Is a Balancing Act

Posted on April 1, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Culture, India, International, Religion.

MUMBAI, India — As our rickshaw whizzes down a dark alleyway, I can just make out a Star of David painted on a shop’s cement wall. The Kosher butcher in Thane, a northeastern suburb of Mumbai, specializes in mutton and chicken. In a land where most consider cows holy, it rarely sells beef.

We turn left and arrive at the synagogue, ready to celebrate Passover. We have been delayed, but the seder has not begun. (“Indian time” and “Jewish time” mean the same thing — late.)

Built in 1879, Shaar Hashamaim is one the oldest synagogues for India’s Bene Israel Jews. Legend has it the community, considered one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, arrived in India 2,000 years ago when a boat of Jews fleeing persecution in the Galilee got shipwrecked off the Konkan coast. Seven couples survived, and multiplied. Like Jews the world over, the community acclimated to the local culture while maintaining its own traditions and rituals.

Continue reading on GlobalPost.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Mixx
  • TwitThis
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News

No Comments