- Group:Young Farmers
- Age:20-29 years old
- Group Size:11 members
- Project:Agriculture & Community
- Destination:Deveghuda, India
11 of us have returned in one piece after two weeks in Rajasthan, a state in North West India. We didn’t know each other before meeting at the airport, but after 6 months of organising and emailing, it turned out that being a Young Farmer made us great friends instantly. These friendships strengthened as we chopped crops by hand in 35 degree heat, compared toilet arrangements, attempted to organise an international game of cricket, frequently performed The Macarena and travelled through giant potholes whilst avoiding cows in the road.
As part of the YFA Travel Scheme, we spent two weeks volunteering in the village of Devghuda, about an hour from the city of Jaipur. We stayed with host farming families in this village that had never had Westerners as guest before. We were treated as celebrities, constantly being photographed and invited round for tea. However our purpose was to learn and share about culture, farming and to help teach English in some schools and the community.
India was described to us as the 3 C’s – Colour, Culture and Chaos. Being a Hindu region, we were welcomed to the village in a ceremony where we received the first of many bright flower garlands, as well as some paint and rice on our heads. This is just a slight indication of the amazing hospitality we were to receive throughout our stay and was a clear demonstration of how Hinduism and tradition largely dictates the daily routine of the people we met. Our routine, although a little spontaneous at times depending on rain downpours, cows in the road, or a request from another village to meet us, consisted of helping our host families on their farms in the morning. Typically this began with hand milking buffalo, cows and goats at around 4.30am, followed by chopping fodder by hand and carrying it back to feed the animals, on our heads. We also helped to weed a variety of crops such as tomatoes and peanuts. Families typically grow what the need for their livestock, and then a supplementary crop they can eat or sell. Crop rotation is widely practiced, and wheat is a common sight as it feeds the people and the animals.
We saw differing levels of technology in use as government subsidies filter through to the most rural areas, but without a constant electricity supply and a lack of training most jobs are done by hand, and as the culture orders, this is mostly done by the women.
After washing off the morning sweat using a bucket of rain water, and after eating some chapatti and spicy vegetables, we would visit a school and teach some basic English to infants, or practice conversations and pronunciation with seniors. We then painted a classroom in the local school, along with a stage and some of the outside areas. Often this was interrupted by a game of cricket or crowd of children wanting to play but we got it done in time and are happy to have left a physical presence in the village.
Our evenings and weekend
Our evenings were filled with fun social activities including visiting gorgeous temples where monkeys, elephant and camels roamed. Or cooking traditional food on dried dung fires, and learning to put on saris, turbans and henna. Most memorable though was the dancing, at every opportunity, whether it was to laugh at us or with us, we attempted to dance to Indian pop music. Luckily this meant we were all tired enough to sleep through the hot nights and be ready to start again the next day. We also had a weekend off from the farms and visited the stunning Taj Mahal, as well as the Amber Fort in Jaipur.
The craftsmanship in these architectural feats was incredible and travelling along the roads let us see a variety of landscapes of the area as well as spotting monkeys on mopeds, buffalo in jeeps and people on top of buses.
We would all highly recommend the trip especially staying with families, living a different way of life, meeting new friends and making hilarious memories!