At first I felt a bit uncomfortable, I mean after all I was a stranger… With a camera, full of curiosity and a bunch of Ashar Alo girls willing to open the doors of their homes.


After classes were over, students took us on a walk around Piali. We moved through the narrow, muddy trails, over the railway and right into a hut which wasn’t just a shelter for two siblings and their family but also for a pack of baby goats.

Girls introduced us to their moms, dads and younger brothers and a bit of a heartbreaking gossip going around the village at that time.

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Families welcomed us with big smiles and sparky eyes, asking if we might need a glass of chai. Also my camera sparked quite a response with girls, boys, parents, aunts and cousins all gathering together for portraits.

I asked one younger girl what is she up to after school, when she is not studying, and she answered: “I go sleep”. The humidity and the sun here literally make you want to sleep all day, especially if you are an alpine person acclimated to 15°C.

While the youngsters are restoring the lost energy, the teens usually hang out together in a home that owes a TV. One of houses we saw actually had a flat screen mounted on the brick wall.

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girls-homes-in-india-portrait

Nowadays most of the girls live in the tiny houses made of bricks. A construction like that has a better chance of surviving the heavy rains during the monsoon season.

However this is not a rule: some students’ homes are made of mud or bambus and covered with rice grass roof. Some don’t have toilets. Most of them have a pond right there at the doorstep which presents a source of food, hygiene and fun. Villagers live on fish, rice, vegetable and fruit, and sweets if they can afford them.

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girls-homes-in-india-inside

We could be quick to compare their living conditions with ours, but what sense would that make? 

Rather then labelling with “underdeveloped”, let them teach us something about a life far away from the aggressive (social) media and the political depression that has swamped our so called “developed” world.

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girls-homes-in-india-goats

The walk felt so comforting and such a privilege, especially now looking back and writing this blog post from a warm comfort of my home. While it’s about to snow here in Slovenia, the Piali girls can enjoy a tropical savanna winter: less humidity, 30°C on average.

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portrait


Text and photography by Polona Fonda. All rights reserved. 

EMPOWER A GIRL:

Sponsor a girl and her education: with only 230 eur per year. With the following amount girls get a full year of education, a school uniform, notebooks and other study material, two meals a day and mostly importantly, a safe environment to develop themselves. I am starting mine sponsorship in January when a new generation joins the school.  

For more info visit www.pialiasharalo.com or conact mojca.gayen@gmail.com or anup_1171@yahoo.co.in.

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