In spite of our late arrival last night we got up in good time thanks to jet lag. We were in Ramesh’s “second home,” which meant that even though we had seen on the guest-host spreadsheet that Kamayani and we were both hosted by Ramesh, we did not meet because Ramesh has two houses and she was in one and we in the other. Also in our house were William Fontenot, an environmental advocate from Louisiana, and Sridhar Vedachalam, formerly of Cincinnati and now of Ithaca. All of us were up by East Coast morning. William and I enjoyed a scenic walk to the campus seeing along the way some rushing waters, melted off the nearby mountaintops.
Wow, AID Colorado’s got it made in the shade, you may think. Especially if you heard Ramesh talking to volunteers at the conference in Charlotte last year, “Come to Boulder, we’ll find you jobs!”
So let me clarify that his two houses are actually two apartments in student housing and the reason he has them is that he is shifting apartments and luckily for the AID Conference there is an overlap for the Memorial Day weekend.
After breakfast and GBM we heard the day’s keynote, Ayesha Khatun speaking about her work with Adivasi, Dalit and Muslim women and communities in Birbhum District in West Bengal. Quotable quote: “You may say, but women are going out, they are getting jobs … but it is like putting a golden chain around a pet dog’s neck while the owner is taking the dog out to see and enjoy.”
The panel discussion on Women’s Empowerment, the Plenary Session on Bhopal and the Interactive Session on Nuts & Bolts of AID brought up connections of local and global and pressed us to ask what we could do, today and every day at the personal and political levels.
In between sessions and during the break-out sessions when the main hall was free various groups gathered to rehearse for Day 2.
Boulder volunteers at conference. Photo: Surbhi Bansal