• mathiasdockweiler

New experiences in the Rann of Kutch

We arrived by bus in Khhara Goda of a small village at a temple. On site were 10-20 elderly locals and children, who asked us to put them in a small meeting room. After a short welcome a lively exchange took place. The Agariyas who belong to the men told about their life and their problems. The people did not complain about their lives. Even the living conditions which are impossible for us do not bother you, because they are used to it their whole life.

Afterwards we drove to a quite newly built building. In this building there are various treatment rooms for health check-ups. Again a discussion took place in which more information was exchanged. Afterwards we were shown a bus which goes from place to place to treat patients. In this bus are medicines and a treatment room.

Afterwards we drove with the bus into the desert landscape, first the roads were very bad, also still small vegetation available, however more we arrived into the desert no vegetation was to be seen. The road conditions were quite good. By the heat the horizon blurred and one could see LKW´s and salt mountains which seemed to be in the air. Many trucks drove around in the desert. They pulled a big cloud of dust behind them during their salt transport. In addition, small dust tornadoes were observed in the desert.

We drove to a hut and salt fields which are cultivated by a family. The family willingly showed us everything they have and their fields. The fields are irrigated by pumps and hoses. The family even owns 5 solar panels which they use to generate electricity. On site it was windy and very warm. The hut consisted of a scaffold of branches which consisted of tarpaulins and fabrics, among other things also jeans sewn together. Next to the hut stands a small temple and a black round tank which is embedded in the ground and filled with drinking water.

Afterwards we visited a small factory where magnesium chloride is produced. This happens by lye and warm up.

We drove to a small village where the bus stopped which we visited hours ago and treated patients. The bus was connected to electricity and via Skype a video conversation with a doctor was set up. Thus the patients had a contact to the physician and this can regard itself the patients also and deal with these. After the treatment they were given medication if necessary. 50 percent of the illnesses are due to the work on the salt fields.

We were accommodated in a school of agariyas where pupils of the 9th and 10th will teach and sleep.

The next day we drove further into the desert, we stopped at abandoned huts, only the scaffolding, the salt fields and shafts were still to be seen. There were also craters to see, which came from old shafts from past years, which collapsed by the rain masses of the monsoon and dragged the surrounding soil with them. Poisonous gases can collect in the wells, 2 people died working in them.This wells is a danger.

Furthermore, we saw a large water tank in the desert, which is filled with drinking water and supplies the surrounding families with free water. This was built by a collective and donations. The farmers are collecting again money to build a new one.

In the middle of the desolate desert there is an island which is situated higher up. On

it there is a temple and various buildings that are available for a free collective supply of food and drink. The supply is made possible by a cooperation of the people, they donate food regularly.

At the end, further interviews and an opportunity to rest took place at the temple we first visited. During a conversation in the house of an Agariyas family with the carers I learned more about the family structure, their situation and the problems. The whole 7-headed family lives in this small house, which consists of 3 rooms. During the conversation with the oldest of the family he described the bad situation of his family and a dilemma which concerns the school education of the grandchildren. In the government schools the food is bad and the children get sick. But to get out of the salt industry they have to go to school. But the family cannot afford additional food for the children. Furthermore, the man said that there were already several engineers and strangers here who wanted to help them. But they only wanted to earn money and in the end the situation of the Agariyas did not change. Moreover, the political situation is a problem.

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