Canning is the last stop on the train we were taking daily to get to Piali. It’s also a town we visited to see the homes of Ashar Alo girls. One hour drive through the rural roads of West Bengal lead us to a small settlement in the mid of rice fields, palm trees and tropical savanna.

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Regardless of the caste, with their traditional clothing, Indian women dress so beautifully. Accompanied by those ladies, and the gentlemen (see the photos), we walked over the ponds onto the small island of mud huts.

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The black plastic foil is a quick and simple solution to cover the home after monsoon has damaged the roofs and some mud parts of the hut. A mud hut below is a home for six people; parents, three sisters and their grandma. All three siblings go to school, with the eldest being a student at Piali Ashar Alo.

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The daily menu of the families here pretty much involves what the nature has to offer: fish, coconuts and other fruits, rice and veggies. The pond and the fountain in front of the hut are used for daily hygiene.

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While most of the children curiously surrounded us, this boy observed from the safe distance. He caught my attention with the big bike he cling to, and bites he made into the tire – it looked like he needed some chewy gum to nibble.

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Boys and girls, with their siblings and pets, kept coming to greet us. All of them were willing to give me a smile and a pose for the camera.

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On the way back to the car, the villagers took us to see the dragons a local man crafted out of the mud. No matter the part of the World, creativity and artistic expression can light up the community.

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 Text and photography by Polona Fonda. All rights reserved. 

EMPOWER A GIRL:

Sponsor an unprivileged girl with 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.