Saturday, December 4, 2010

November Retreat and the start of December

Once again I find myself apologizing for my lack of posts. It has been a busy few weeks culminating with a wonderful retreat with my whole India family.

This month our retreat was in Wayanad in the north-eastern portion of Kerala. To get there we had to take a 3 hour train ride followed by a 3 hour bus ride up into the mountains. Wayanad is know, amongst other things, for its tea production and in the cool climate it thrives.

The mountains, which are part of a long range of moutains (the Western Ghats), are home to a large tribal population. If you remember one of my past blogs I discussed the lives of Dalits. Tribals do not technically fall in the caste system but they are none the less of the most marginalized and systematically oppressed people.

In Kerala at the time of Indian Independence and the creation of the modern state of Kerala the elections were one by the Communist Party of India. One of the first pieces of legislation that the party passed was a land reform act returning land to Tribal groups who had, for various reasons, lost their land.

Now, however, many of them still find themselves landless-- having sold their land for as little as a few bottles of alcohol and some cigarettes.

These people education is poor and that was often taken advantage of by wealthier land prospectors.

In Tribal communities today alcoholism and unemployment are high and, like the Dalits, structural system in place on help to keep these people down.

During our four day stay amongst their community we were able to meet many Tribal people. We even attended an Alcoholics Annonymous meeting at a local home.

The people of this region are trying to struggle with the challenges ahead.

We will be returning to Wayanad in late Spring and we are all looking forward to the refreshing cool mountain air!


We are finally into December and I only have two more days as a 22 year old which is quite hard to believe. I can remember being 8 as if it were yesterday. But experiencing this time of year is integral to my time here in India. Spending this time away from friends and family only reminds me of how important they truly are.