24th December 2007
Varalakshmi went back to talk to the mothers about taking the next step, which would be to prepare a list of all the people within the beneficiary zone of the anganwadi centers and record how much they had received. In a list of 18 names, there were reports of some who had received once, some twice and some not even once. In order to meet a large group of the women at once, we would have to have the meeting in a neutral place, so Varalakshmi suggested the elementary school. This way no single caste would be singled out.
Taking advantage of the presence of guests from the AID conference, including seasoned satyagrahi Ajay from Anakapalle, we called for the meeting today. We gathered about 20 mothers and by the time they all reached the elementary school a crowd of about 20 more had gathered as well. We briefly recapped the issue which was anyway well known to them. Varalakshmi summarized her discussions with the women in their homes, the anganwadi workers at their centers, and also at the sector meeting. The next step was to submit a list of names of those who were eligible but had not received the food. Simple enough.
A young man from the village immediately said that he could tackle the issue, call the press, take videos and meet the required officers. Ajay told him that getting our pictures in the paper was not going to get the results, and could even sidetrack us from our actual goal which was to get the children their food, which was their right. Another said, “ippuDu manaki svacchandi seva samstha undi kada, AID India, manamE Edo cEskovaccu kada, vILLu vALLu cEyyalEdanakunDaga) why harp on the negative saying what government is not doing, we have our voluntary organisation, AID here, why dont we do what we can ourselves and not blame others for not doing this. Reminds me of the words of Archbishop Dom Helder Camara, “When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist
After a lot of discussion and after driving home the point that people had to write a letter, sign their names and be prepared to tell the same truths they told during this meeting at the time of any enquiry, Ajay closed with a song on Ambedkar and reminded people that we do not get our rights by begging.