I climb up an unsteady pile of rocks just off the side of the road. Before me, hundreds of colours swirl, and voices fight to be heard. I change my lens and and bring my camera to my face snapping off a few quick bursts of photos, trying to capture the frenetic market scene in a still photograph. Unsatisfied, I look for a better vantage point and spot a small brick wall, fifty feet away and head for it. I attempt to hop up onto the wall, sweat from the humid desert air glues my new green shorts to my leg, (my girlfriend Salomeh had just purchased these for me with strict instructions not to wear them to work) and as I stretch to make the jump, the pen in my pocket bursts through, cutting a hole in my shorts. I hear the noise and look down at a three-inch gap exposing my pasty white thighs, and see the pen from a hotel, through the newly formed hole, mocking me. S**t…! I hear a giggle, and look behind the wall to see a young boy of about ten years old, sitting bare-assed and shitting, while pointing to the hole in my shorts and laughing…
A week ago I arrived in Jaipur (dubbed the Pink city), Rajasthan after a nearly two year absence. It was over three years ago that I arrived in Jaipur, having travelled overland from Mumbai, weary from the train journey but excited about my new adventure, The Dirty Wall Project. DWP was just three weeks old and I was wide-eyed, but excited at the prospect of helping. Previous to my initial trip to Jaipur, DWP had delivered food to hospital patients, given rations to a blind community, funded kidney dialysis for a patient in Mumbai, and handed out umbrellas for shade, to poor street vendors. I was fresh and naive, but wanted more . A friend of mine had told me about Vatsalya and I was eager to see their work first-hand. It was clear from the start that Vatsalya was one of the good guys in the NGO world and was truly helping. Over the next week or so, I visited their programs, donated some DWP funds, and helped set up a health clinic in a slum community in Jaipur. It was my first time being in a slum community and after two hours, I knew that’s where I wanted to work. I wanted to find a community where I could bring joy and a helping hand too. In the end, that community was 1200 km’s to the south in one of the biggest cities in the world, Mumbai.
Fast forward 3 years and DWP has become a recognized NGO in India, and has had the chance to help thousands of people. DWP has continued to stay in contact with Vatsalya (run by Jaimala & Hitesh Gupta) and over the last few years has joined with Vatsalya to work on several projects, including health camps and selling Vatsalya’s womens’ products in Canada. Just recently, Vatsalya opened up a school just off campus from the orphanage located just outside of Jaipur, and I was eager to visit and see what other new initiatives Vatsalya had started since my last visit.
Vatsalya is always busy and this time was no different. I spent the first few days being Vatsalya’s photographer, taking event photos at several of their vocational training graduations around Jaipur. I continued to lend a hand and used DWP’s photography to capture their new school, their programs and the new womens’ products, for use on their website and for fundraisers. During my time I also had several meetings with them, trying to get a handle on what DWP could do financially for their organization. DWP has been blessed with some very generous donations as of late and I wanted to help Vatsalya with some of their programs.
One of the main problems I have encountered during my time raising funds for DWP and watching other organizations battle for funds, is that certain stuff is easier to raise funds for and some things are damn near impossible. Everyone wants to have their money go towards the building of a school or the sponsorship of a child, but funding the repair work for a fence or a teacher’s salary is not quite as “sexy” to be a part of. It’s understandable, but also a difficulty for all NGO’s trying to keep their programs running with the high cost of maintenance and upkeep. DWP has raised money on the mandate “to see a need and fill it” and it requires a great amount of trust from our donors. Supporters donate funds to DWP not for a specific cause, but with the knowledge that I am on the ground, in the thick of a situation, witnessing things first-hand, and making decisions that we all hope will have the greatest benefit and reach.
After a week visiting and photographing Vatsalya’s work, I crunched some numbers and worked out what I believe to be a generous donation to Vatsalya from DWP. Like all honest NGO’s, Vatsalya was interested in knowing what I hoped the money would be used for. I replied that the reason DWP was donating at all was because I trusted their work and integrity and that they know best as to where their funds are needed. They spoke to me about repairs around the school and orphanage and parts for their tractor to which I’m excited to be able to help with. There are a million things that go on to keep an amazing NGO like Vatsalya running and I am humbled that DWP’s supporters and friends have put me in a position to fund the small things that will keep Vatsalya looking good and creating possibilities for children across Rajasthan.
*DWP donated 80,000 INR – $1600 CAD to help Vatslaya make repairs to their school and orphanage grounds.
*DWP also sold 20,000 INR – $400 CAD worth of Anoothi products in Canada on behalf of Vatsalya.
To read about some of the projects DWP has worked on with Vatsalya check out the links below:
To learn more about their work in Jaipur check out:
Kane Ryananoothi, charity, Dirty Wall Project, donate, DWP, education, fundraise, fundraising, hitesh gupta, India, jaimala, jaimala gupta, jaipur, Kane Ryan, Mumbai, non-profit, orphanage, Photography, rajasthan, school, slum, uduyan, vatsalya