Category Archives: Peace Corps

Inklings from India

 

                              Inklings from India

                                                                             DWAYNE HUNN

 

 

“Seek to imitate… our Master, who when he sees a poor man does not wait for him to beg for  alms.”                                                                             Khun Boron

 

 

Here and There: Problems of Quality

Stay with me for some of my next few words as they walk down a street for you. After walking down this street I will at­tempt to become, in some way, analytical about the world that street lies in, and about our world’s relation to it. Both worlds are very important, although and because, their way of thought and motiv­ation are different.

Try to imagine that you and I are on the corner of that street. Trust me to guide you down it and view it to you as I feel you would. Trust me, because I lived on that street for ten months and viewed it as many times as you probably would on this paper.

The corner is a busy intersection jerkily flowing with small cars, an occasional rich man’s Chevrolet, two-tired and dilapidated red buses, bicycles, and carts of all sizes

—all laboriously pushed by thinly sinew­ed, dark skinned legs. The restaurant on the corner, with the walls opened to the street, makes edible curry. Edible, once you have gone through the initial stages of dysentery due to the initial eatings of it. The overhead fans do little to keep flies off your food. The etiquette of the waiters, who carry six glasses of water at once by inserting their fingers into the innards of the glasses, leaves a little to be desired. Carrying the water glasses as such is not too bad, but when the waiter cleans leftovers from the dishes, blows his nose in his fingers and then brings the glasses—then, more than etiquette enters in. Passing the restaurant, we edge around the queue (line of people) which winds down the sidewalk. They have queued-up to re­ceive their vegetable oil allotment. The third little shack dispenses it. The short squat man lying in the shack on a raised portion of wood is the proprietor. He lies there with his white clothes and contented smile almost daily. He does not seem to do much else. Others do it for him. We have passed the last of the little shops. They were selling articles from soap and ma­terials, to flashlights and lamps. All do­mestically made articles—this is the poorer area of the city.

Perhaps along with our visual concep­tions a little socio-economic background would aid our journey. The housing area we are now entering is one of the areas commonly termed the chawls. The chawls are India’s slum tenements. Here, a few hundred thousand of Bombay’s one to three million chawl dwellers reside.

Continuing down the street our senses take in the new and unexpected. But the sense mechanism is so flooded—shocked may be a better word—that initially it is impossible to express. But we do notice the obvious. The air of the street is filled with dirt, vehicle exhaust and the stench of dirty humans, garbage and excrement. But that is merely the air. Breathing this, we proceed down the street. We proceed slow-jostled and stepping between all the little people on the sidewalk makes movement such. We become impatient with the overflow crowd of the sidewalk and move to the street. There, part of the overflow crowd, we compete with vehicles for movement. On the curb of the sidewalk we have just left are little, weary Indian women commonly called “vegetable wallahs.” They sit on a little hemp sack with their income for the day, or week beside them. That income may consist of 40-50 small potatoes stacked, ready for sale, in piles of four. Moving in the street through the foul air and crowd our ears soon become attuned to the honks and screeches of passing vehicles, the call of vegetable wallahs, the clatter-chatter of the crowd, the wails of children and the blare of Hindi music. Looking through the crowd we can see into the room of a dirty grey, four-storied chawl. Through the barred window, we can see that pots, rags, pictures of holy men and very often a picture of President Kennedy adorn the meager wall space. The room we have looked into has that one barred window, one door and no fan. It is 15’x12’ and is home for usually 6-12 joint family mem­bers.

Outside the barred window lies a 20’ separation before the next chawl begins. That space is littered with dirt, rocks, glass, red Indian spittle, excrement and garbage. Mound the numerous large piles of garbage, dining cows and/or pigeons will be found at any time of the day. At night rats in large numbers will be found. Rats in Bombay are estimated at between 5-12 per person. Occasionally during the day, a person will be seen scavenging a similar pile of garbage. Hard to believe, but very true. No Diners Card needed for this club.

Returning to the curb our view focuses on a ten-month-old child of one of the vegetable wallahs. The mother keeps the child with her since the rest of her family is out trying to earn a few paises (like a penny). The child adjusts to the environ­ment, she must. The naked child crawls off the hemp mat and as it does so you notice the large sores around the pelvic area. Medicare? No, not even Johnson’s Baby Powder is available.

One observant walk down such a street is unforgettable. Many walks—and espe­cially living there—brings home the vi­cious circle of the meager life, education, and experience these people are forced through. The crowded and dirty living conditions put health, privacy and enjoy­ment at a bare minimum. Their food staples, rice and dahl, are severely rationed and spreading it to a joint family keeps that family frail and weak. During the school year, the children get out of this environment six times a week—to be edu­cated. They go to half day classes which average between 35-50. Teachers are not well paid or well trained, and the environ­mental background speaks for itself. With this classroom setting, rote memory, with next to no creative formation is the method.

At birth these children were as cute as, and their eyes sparkled, as much as any American counter part. But soon enough their eyes assumed a hollow, weak look. A Middle class American baby gets, and soon enough learns to expect, much dif­ferent treatment.

Incidentally, what we just walked through is how the upper lower class lives, the class which borders on the mid­dle class. The one-and-a-half to three mil­lion who live in clusters of disgusting hut­ments and under the skies on the streets are lower.

Peace Corps Reflections, Impressions:

That was a bit of the grass roots descrip­tion of a RPCV. The Peace Corp is meant to try to affect development on this grass roots level. Sometimes it can, sometimes it must work otherwise. Such was the case with our group. But out of this all of us learned something about the problems which blocked success at this level. At the same time one of our most important edu­cations was one of appreciation for the “so much” we have at home. As an Urban Community Development group, some of us came to India believing we should act as proteges of Saul Alinsky. That we should organize the lower classes, have them petition and/or fight for their right­ful, human deserts to the government bu­reaucracy above them. Yes, the beautifully pyramidal, governmental welfare struc­ture exists—on paper. But to expect re­dress of life’s grievances from that struc­ture is foolish, and the lower classes have never bothered to feel otherwise.

Being an American in the city also of­fers opportunities to get to know the upper and middle classes. The middle class has its own environmental hang-ups. They are aware of how the rich live, desire some of their possessions and experiences. Their teenage children are not like the chawl or hutment children—many of which have never been to the downtown, financial, entertainment center of the city. The mid­dle class teenager has seen it, experienced some of it and adds to the family pressure to enjoy more of it. But that costs money. Money comes from position. Appointment does not depend axiomatically on position, but class position plays a very impor­tant role in attaining these appointments. For those below the upper class it is usual­ly a hindering role. The economic struc­ture of developing nations adds to the hin­drance. The middle-class father would like to have money for a business venture, would like to have connections to aid this and would like to use both to put his children through the good private schools and then through a foreign university. With these status symbols his children’s aspirations will be more attainable than they presently are to him. Father has learned a little through life and has been stuck beneath the bureaucracy long enough to realize the impediments thwarting im­provement of his position. He can talk con­tinuously of these problems. He has not yet tired of talking, but has tired of be­lieving—if he ever believed such—that he or anyone can meaningfully change the structure. He is frustrated, but seems to have accepted his position—beat by the structure. India’s political structure offers few immediate, effective changes. Such a structure based on a 75-80% illiterate and peasant populace, supported by ensuing traditional beliefs and continued by a mod­erate (for Asia—except when imputed on its base) two-point four percent popula­tion increase; offers few clear spots in the smog.

A Commitment?

This is but a sketch of the problems of the world’s largest democracy. How does the rest of the free world, and particularly America, aid India with these problems? Proponents of aid would generally agree that it should be directed to developing human and economic resources. Opponents would point out that for 20 years we have aided nations like this yet they have not “taken off.” Their answer is— “therefore taper off.”

Some Human and Economic Thoughts

Patience has not been a particularly American virtue. Perhaps, due to this, some of our successes have come. Yet many of the underdeveloped nations have devel­oped a culture premised on an abundance of patience. To many Westerners this patience seems better defined as indiffer­ence or apathy. But they have also had certain bases for this feature which we have not. Many of these nations have had civilizations running into the thousands of years. Perhaps human nature drifts from conservatism, to patience, to indif­ference through such a span. Many are in energy sapping climates. Due to such factors, they have been left behind in science and technology; and population, in the meantime, has aggravated the human economic situation.

Foreign aid and patience returns this thesis to India. A few facts and figures gives some credence to the belief that per­haps the amount of foreign aid and pa­tience should be tied together.

  1. S. Economic Assistance Expenditures 1945-65

$ Per capita    ( ) Per capita rank

India            11.16                    19

Korea          136.88                      7

Taiwan        182.07                      5

Philippines     39.20                    10

For Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, the U.S. has almost phased out its econ­omic assistance program. These nations are approaching the point where their ec­onomic infrastructure should allow them to self-propel their economies. Yet the amount of per capita assistance given them as compared to the world’s largest strug­gling democracy is strikingly obvious.

The reason for the difference is not solely our policy. In 1945 we were en­grossed with containing communism and generous amounts of foreign aid was one of our weapons. India was engrossed with the neutralist ideal directed by the charis­matic shadow of a Ghandi. Therefore, the discrepancies in relative aid receipts to various nations are possibly a significant reason for difference in economic devel­opment 20 years later.

Money means capital investment, this means more factories, which means more jobs, which means that kid in the chawls may land a job rather than idle in his family’s one room or on the street corner. In India, one facet of America’s aid policy is to pump money creating investment in­to the hands of the frustrated middle class father, and too, by doing so, aid the chawl kids’ needs also.

The program works something like this. America has supplied India with tremen­dous amounts of grain in the last few years (11 billion tons last year). Due to India’s precarious foreign exchange con­dition she has allowed her to repay in rupees. America can not use the rupees anywhere but in India. So, she lends 80% of it back to private entrepreneurs in In­dia. The other 20% is used for the admin­istrative costs of our governmental person­nel in India. The amount of rupees owed the U.S. is staggering. Thus, Indian gov­ernment officials often criticize this “Public Law 480” program as “foreign domin­ation of our economy.” A similar view would probably be espoused by intellec­tuals here at home who see exploitive motives in most of our giving. In India, the criticism comes from those who feel that either complete centralized planning, and/or complete Indian government con­trol over all economic aid allotments is the answer. The AID position is that private entrepreneurs and their initiative and profit motives are a needed part of the answer, not merely centralized planning. They also feel that over this double loan— which America never really expects to col­lect—they should have some authority. They also point out that the Indian gov­ernment has control over the distribution of this money by their process of licens­ing, which the capital seeker must pass through to gain AID grants. Indian criti­cism of this PL 480 process, for some of her above reasons, may be part of the answer as to why the rupee repayment is presently being phased out. By 1971 all repayments will be in dollars. ‘Where will she get them?

Business Perspective

Bombay is India’s most booming city. Industry. and construction is going on con­stantly and everywhere. Calcutta used to be in this position. But she has reached her physical limit. Also, detracting from investment there is the Bengali labor men­tality of “gheraos” (strikes—sometimes violent), and general disrespect towards— or self-pride if you interpret it on the Bengali side—toward the Berah Sabh (Big Boss). These two areas are the only real commercial, financial and industrial cen­ters in India. Therefore, they are also the two major tax sources, supplying over 60% of the tax revenue. (An 80% peasant population averaging only- 75 rupees a year is no tax source). India’s tax system, depending on whose stats you use, is either the highest or one of the highest in the world. So, businessmen in either of these cities constantly gripe about the chunk the government takes from them.

Chunks which presumably could go for re­investment. Even so, the tax system is not leveling the station of the very rich busi­ness men. Evasion and inefficient collec­tion keeps these men living in the splen­dor of contemporary maharaj as.

There is a movement afoot in India which some feel is the answer to India’s problems—alas the world’s! It is called Moral Rearmament and its title is self explanatory. If they were serious, these MRAs would concentrate their efforts on that rich class of businessmen from which many of their parents come. For among these select few there are not enough truly socially responsible individuals. Mr. Tata, the owner of Indian Airlines, Tata Oil and Steel and others, seems to be one of the few, as his wealth is seen spread in insti­tutions to better the lot of those below; es­pecially the Parsee community of which he is one. This lack of social responsibility, which in many ways seems applicable to our affluent, middle class society, will lead into my last comments on a facet of hu­man resource development.

                        Top

Education                       and Where It Leads

Bottom

For division’s sake, we could make four qualitative divisions of the Indian school system. In ascending order, the lowest is the village school. This is not based on ex­perience, but merely on reasoned compar­isons of the low quality municipal school, and their teacher attraction over that of village school. The second rung is filled by the municipal schools and Catholic orphan­ages. Then follows the semi-private and Catholic schools. The pinnacle is possessed by completely private schools and espe­cially well-endowed Catholic schools.

Three months ago, the government was talking of replacing these pinnacle schools with neighborhood schools. The language teaching medium, the student quality dif­ference, and the exodus of teachers were some of the problems this would cause. But it is to these schools that the upper-class elite sends their sons and daughters. Chauffeured to and from school, brought warm lunches from home by one of their many servants, placated by most of the teachers due to the power their parents possess—school to these students usually contributes to their spoiled, spineless, un­directed qualities. When they are chauf­feured through the poverty surrounding them they never think of it as their future responsibility. At this pinnacle only a rare Indian teacher will teach them to be ob­servant, thoughtful and critical. Rote mem­ory, paraphrasing of the textbook and un­imaginative homework are the standard methods of education. Athletics provide little in the way of character formation through discipline, sweat and grime. Lack of fields and unaggressive coaching are a major part of the reason. Their vacations, weekends, etc., are spent in air-conditioned homes, restaurants, parties and country clubs. Part-time work they do not think of, probably even if there was a labor market need, which of course there is not. High school graduation, after their keen pursuit of grades for grades sake, will find all seeking studies abroad. Some already with the intent of staying abroad, most unwilling to say but ready and willing to sway to that philosophy. Most feel little patriotism to their country, feel they owe it little and feel it offers them little com­pared to what is offered elsewhere.

This is the class which is being trained to take over the chairs of its society’s leadership. They can get by with a shallow education—as their success in foreign uni­versities proves. But can their societies of tomorrow get by without feeling the pulse of the masses’ needs below them? With­out them feeling responsibility toward those needs? Can they feel that pulse with­out now becoming more involved, in some small way, by volunteering their time and effort in teaching, building and experienc­ing the life of the 95 % below them? Are our affluent, middle class students differ­ent enough, when the worthy passions of our time seem to be misplaced from con­structive civil rights work, headstart pro­grams, etc., to constant good-time parties, uncivil demonstrations, etc?

Those being educated at the pinnacle will inherit the few spots of authority which exist in the political-economic in­frastructure of their developing economies. Those in the lower divisions of schools are inferiorly educated, partly due to the environment they live in. They are groom­ed to fill the dreary, routine jobs. From these jobs, which comprise the bulk of their societies system, an outsider experi­ences just what their environmental life and rote memory learning situation re­sults in. Almost all of the civil servant employees, firm managers, indigenous engineers, teachers, etc., have been groomed on being told an answer, or on finding it in a book. When situations, which you unfortunately may be the instigator of, present themselves and call for a self-initiated course of action — you are in trouble. You may be left waiting for hours, days or weeks over what by our standards, would be considered an inconsequential act. During this tune one of the above mentioned being dealt with will search policy manuals for the patented answer, or seek higher authority to dodge personal responsibility. It is considered cul­ture when things do not move fast in many Latin American and Asian coun­tries. But today it is part of the weak sys­tem of low quality education and thought which seems to be institutionalizing this type of action in those places. Due to the surplus of problems and dearth of re­sources to deal effectively with this low-quality education system, it becomes more institutionalized and less susceptible to fu­ture change.

The upper-class student can thwart the low quality educational system because they have the means to remain near the scientific-technical revolution. They have access to radios, books, travel (though ex­change restrictions are forcing many more Indians to remain provincial in their out­looks), etc., with which to stay abreast of the world. In fact, due to the low econ­omic position of the teacher, the students are often more abreast of the modem world than are they. The teaching profes­sion does not attract the better qualified and upper class people. This scale will give an idea why.

Starting Salary
Teacher (municipal)      Rs. 64/month
Teacher (private)             180/

Stenographer                 250/

Stewardess                    400/

Businessman                 1000/ up

Thus, if you are especially qualified, you must be very dedicated to pursue this profession.

I could go on. But perhaps enough known problems of India along with a few more complexities, hopefully revealed here, has served a purpose. As most media viewers know, India for the past few years has been in a position of strain. Due to this her political structure is also being strained to reduce the other social strain. The Con­gress party is no longer monolithic. She is bitingly chastised by the middle class, business dominated Swatantra party, by the wings of the Communist party, by the conservative and often chauvinistic Jan Sang party. The strains and criticisms have focalized many inadequacies and corruptions in India’s means of develop­ment. Hopefully this atmosphere will mean a more efficient path to change. But, at this possibly crucial stage, a major change in our foreign policy could be a catastrophe. I can look back to a personal level for enforcement here. Orphans in India go unclaimed for life. Catholic insti­tutions care for them. Yet the price of administration determines the amount of care available. Were it not for the free aid of powdered milk and wheat supplied by the U.S., rice supplied by Spain and canned goods (produced by the U.S.) sup­plied by Holland; the 150 orphans I work­ed with would be a smaller and physically weaker number. This goes on through the system, right down to the grains we supply the masses. Granted, much of this is pilfered by men with connections, amaz­ing amounts are eaten by rats (some fig­ures claim 20-25% of the gross supply); but without that amount that trickles down to the rightful, needy sources what would happen? An Indian state commissioner once told me, “If America was really our friend she would cut all foreign aid, leave us to flounder, suffer and face up to our problems alone in our own way.” Their own way would possibly mean a shaking out of their lethargic, apathetic frame of mind. But it would also possibly mean revolution, bloodshed, mass starvation, dis­ease, etc. The experience, if our Western, Christian mentality could sit through the bloody coliseum, would be ugly and in­humane. A consequently ugly, inhumane government could be the result.

The walk through the chawls was ugly. But without our understanding of its life and its causes, our aid and patience in changing these—it could be much uglier. One of my favorite quotes concludes and applies well to India and our relation to it. It concludes and applies just as well to our affluent society’s responsibility to the development of quality at home. Albert Schweitzer once said:

And for those who have more,

Those who need not struggle for existence,

It is for them to set the example.

 

Phalanx Academic Journal, Edited by William Allen, Claremont Graduate University, 1967

Enlarged Peace Corps could change map

Peacefully changing the map for decades?
Peacefully changing the map for decades?

Portland Press Herald    Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Maine Voices                               Forum

A Different Army

Enlarged Peace Corps could change the map

  • See what 10 percent of the Vietnam budget could have accomplished.

By Dwayne Hunn

Osama, Saddam and their followers are bad actors and will get what they deserve, probably mostly from our superb military. In the meantime, it would be healthy to hear candidates, politicians and parties lay out a long-term solution to the terror these actors              breed, before we get too deeply entwined in war’s bloody human and  financial costs. The solution lies in a quote from Sargent Shriver:

“If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corps’ is, perhaps, the long run the most important. . . . What happens in India, and South America – whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not – may well determine the balance of        peace.”

In the 1960s and ’70s, then-New York Sen. Jacob Javits proposed a peace army of 1 million young men. Labor leaders advocated an overseas service corps of 100,000. The Peace Corps’ first deputy director, Warren Wiggins, said a Peace Corps of 30,000 to 100,000  volunteers was needed.

The Peace Corps’ mean yearly budget from 1965-69 was $108 million, with its mean number of Peace Corps volunteers in the field    numbering 13,947, with a cost per volunteer of $7,743.

On the other hand, for that same period the Vietnam War budget was $16.3 billion. The mean number of soldiers we kept in Vietnam was 413,300. The cost per soldier was $39,370.

If just 10 percent of the Vietnam War budget, $1.6 billion, had been   put into the Peace Corps budget to advertise “the toughest job              you’ll ever love that really does good,” then an additional 210,000        Peace Corps volunteers could have served during that period.

Imagine if we had continued inspiring 55,000 American volunteers     each year to serve in countries where clean water doesn’t run              easily, chalkboards are luxuries, people house themselves in mud-        clay and cow-dung-padded walls, education is treasured and health    and food too often wanting. Instead, since its 1961 inception only        slightly over 150,000 volunteers have served in about 130 nations.

Had our army of over 2 million Peace Corps volunteers already served in the field, do you think international newspapers would be   lambasting America on their pages? Would readers buy them? Would Osama bin Laden and his cells have risen in such a world?

Maybe. But having been a Peace Corps volunteer as well as a Global  Village Habitat for Humanity home builder working near the struggling  masses, I think not. Even most ivory-towered policy wonks would probably agree.

Yet, where on the political hustings, on the forums provided for             perceived leaders, do you hear even some of them planting visions of  common sense, of marshaling good-doers to address the sufferings of the world?  The lines drawn between long-suffering masses and  terrorists and comfortable Americans are short and getting shorter.

The line eraser is not a stealth bomber or more technically armed        Special Forces. The eraser cleans when you build what an American Peace Army does – relationships, schools, sanitation systems, small      farms and businesses. Shriver was right: In the long run the Peace       Corps map of the world is more important.

Today’s world reminds us how much more his words needed heeding. Edwin Markham was one of John Kennedy’s favorite poets. One of   Kennedy’s favorite Markham poems was:

“Why build these cities beautiful,

If man unbuilded goes.

In vain we build the world,

Unless the builder also grows.”

Some brothers-in-law think alike. Their vision of a vastly expanded     Peace Corps is what today’s unbuilded global village needs. Building  a life for one’s loved ones forges a sense of pride, and that builds          villages and cities beautiful.

It’s what two visionary leaders preached. It’s what isn’t pushed              enough today.

– Special to the Press Herald

Copyright © Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Portland Press Herald    Tuesday, November 5, 2002

 

Pitching in to help build peace

Tuesday December 4, 2001              Marin Independent Journal

Marin Voice

Pitching in to help build peace

 Dwayne Hunn

In teeming Bombay of the late 60’s, he was a somewhat radical  Malaysian student journalist.  I was an Urban Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer.

The Bombay Gymkhanna had a rugby team that needed American footballers and a swift running back. The combination took us to the All South Asian Rugby Championship, and gave a few PCVs and a Malaysian student many meals we otherwise couldn’t afford.

Recently (about ten days ago), with him carrying a gimpy rugby back’s knee, I again tasted his renowned hospitality.

This time, however, Kadir was Malaysia’s Ambassador to Germany.  It is hard to imagine a more comfortable way to glean post 911 perspectives from Europe, ambassadors and Muslims.

None of them expressed hesitancy to America getting Bin Laden… “There is no one with an ounce of brains who would choose to live under the Talliban rather than with America… But you must do it carefully and not harm civilians… And if you attack other Muslims nations now you will be doing just what Bin Laden wants.  He wants you to strike out, so that he can rally extreme fundamentalists to bring those nations against you…And America must fix the Palestinian issue…”

Over and over it came back to America fixing this or that and Palestine….

When you are the toughest kid in the neighborhood even  grown-ups expect you to settle squabbles between foolish juveniles.  It’s not as easy as the strongest nation among nations that have centuries of wonderful civilizations intermixed with tragic warrings.

Nonetheless, so many point to young America as the world’s problem handler – militarily, diplomatically, economically.

At least when you were the toughest in the hood, you had experienced grown-ups who seldom hesitated to fill the roles you were learning.

In discourse, one hopes young America’s side is being heard.

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan.

Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?

Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter and killed over 500 fundamentalist inspired warlords?

Who sent force to Kosovo, stopping Milosevic from cleansing Albanian Muslims?

Who, for decades and more than any other nation, pushed Arafat to control stone throwers and Israel to withdraw settlements

Yet who is constantly vilified for meddling too much – yet not doing enough?

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan. Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?… Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter.

Yes, rich, strong America must do much.  But the world’s older, grown-up nations have a huge responsibility to take bold stands and implement solutions. They must educate against irrationalism. Aid and invest in needy countries.  Send  troops, food and foreign aid.  They should start their own Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, so they too can help make the world more livable for the poor upon whom fanatics prey.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, whose $10 million check to benefit  911’s victim’s families was returned because he said: “America has to face reality (regarding Israel) if they don’t want to fight terrorism for the next 100 years. What the Americans are doing now in Afghanistan is right. I’m with them all the way.  They have to take revenge.  And you can quote me. I – am – an – ally – of – America.  Exactly like Mr. Guiliani and the United States. I want to eradicate terrorism also.”

The Prince echoes most of the world’s embassies and capitals.  Perhaps, however, his check ought to be the down payment that eradicates terrorism’s seeds in the world’s seething cauldron while  addressing his concern that, “ Israel is doing a better job getting its message out.”

With his millions, he ought to offer to build state-of-the art UN staffed schools in a children labeled peace zone along Palestinian Israeli borders.

These peace zones would allow children from both sides to learn, play and build relationships that destroy hateful stereotypes – those too often seen in Middle Easterners’ eyes on TV.

You want a public relations coup that will win the world’s hearts?  A stealth missile to obliterate the dark caves of poverty and ignorance where terrorisms lurks?

Bring students together.

Education and its relationships are how struggles – or jihads – are overcome.

Misery and hunger in land of plenty

San Francisco Examiner September 25, 1991

Misery and hunger in land of plenty

Dwayne Hunn

“Buck sheis de do, shab?  Khanna mangta hai.  Boock laga  hai…” he said, as he tugged my hand.  He stood belt level and I  turned away after glancing at him.  He kept holding and tugging, as  the teeming masses of Indians moved beside us on the sidewalk.

 

“Boock laga hai, boock laga hai, tora khanna mangta  hai…” he said as he rubbed his stomach and tugged my hand.  I tried  to look  at him as we kept walking in the crowd.  In  training  they had  told us that we would have to decide how to handle  beggars.  In  training, they had told us that 1/2 of India’s  beggars  were purposefully maimed.

“How do they get a statistic like that, does the  government go around and ask, `Did you purposefully maim your kid?'”  I  had skeptically asked.

During  my first five minutes in the streets, I had  trouble starring into the face of this boy whose cheek had a whole in  it the  size  of a Kennedy silver dollar, ringed  with  pus,  sores, exposed  teeth  and ugly gums.   Ahead, curbside on  the  street, were skateboards that American kids careen around on for fun.  In Bombay  they  are used by kids without hands, ankles or  legs  to reach  the  car or taxi at the light, grab its  handle  and  beg, “Paise de do, shab…  Gorib admi, shab..”

The  homeless  and  poor seemed to be  everywhere.   In  the financial district of the city, where piles of garbage were  left to  be picked up early in the morning, I naively asked the  scavenger, searching the piles which the rats always worked,  what he was  doing.   A weak “Khana (food), shab,” was his reply,  as  he continued  slowly  searching the mounds of garbage.  On  a  train trip, I laid on my pack at a village station and watched a family with a pants-less child defecate diarrhea on the train  platform, and use his fingers to lick it.

As  a kid living on the poor side of Cleveland, I  met  only one  beggar, whose cut foot my mother cleaned after  she  brought him  into the house and fed him.  As a Peace Corps  volunteer,  I saw them maimed and crippled and begging all day, everywhere.

Of  course,  I got to see the Taj Mahal, Ajanta  and  Allora Caves and stuff a kid from a working class family would not  have had  the  vacation money to see.  Those tourist  sights  made  me develop  a simplified philosophy of why the India I knew  in  the late-60’s  had the human problems it had, and has.  To build  the palaces for the rich, and naturally cooled, hand carved caves for the  influential religious classes took a tremendous  number  of  manhours and resources.  Energy that was not spent on  irrigation systems, infrastructure and education.

Little  did I realize how some of those experiences  working on Urban Community Development in the slums of Bombay would  prep me  for  today’s America.  My first work site, the  Worli  Chawls slum had  water available for only an hour a day,  usually  with enough pressure to reach the 2nd story of the typical four  story tenements, from about 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.  If you lived on the third  or  fourth story, you bucketed water up to store  in  your water drums.

For  years now I have lived in affluent Marin County,  California,  where in recent years we were limited to 50  gallons  of water per day per person.  The I captured rain water in drums and saved shower water in buckets and bucketed it to some very  basic toiletry  needs.  Homelessness and  begging has become a  growing problem  in  Marin   and a bigger problem in  Big  Brotherly  San Francisco.

On a shrinking planet whose resources are limited and  whose population  is  pushing 5 billion  with an increasing  number  of homeless and hungry, there is little justification in doing  more Taj  Mahals, even if we had powerful S&L financing and  visionary Trumph leadership.  There is obvious justification for increasing irrigation systems, infrastructure and education worldwide.

My  two  years of oversees work reinforced  my  belief  that there is a tremendous need for expanding the Peace Corps overseas and  its  resultant  educational benefits at  home.   Working  on affordable housing and land use problems in the North Bay of  San Francisco for almost 9 years continually exposed me to  opponents of  affordable housing, whose view of the world is  dominated  by preserving what they got and only allowing more palatial  estates to  be built.  How their relatively powerful actions play on  the stage the rest of the world must live on matters not.  They  fail to  see  how the use of our land to support  and  provide  energy efficient transit modes and affordable ownership housing  impacts not only those near their county borders but those oceans away in our  shrinking and ecologically fragile planet.  The NIMBYs  (Not In  My  Backyard)  elect NIMTOs (Not In My Term  of  Office)  who usually produce LULUs (Less than Useful Land Uses) by doing DECME (Density Erasers Causing Million Dollar Estates) projects  rather than meeting the working people’s and the environment’s  housing, transit and community development needs.

The  Maharajas’  produced  Taj Mahals by edict.   We  do  it through  a  more democratic process of meetings that  produces  a veiled but often similar result.  To a Peace Corps volunteer  who has seen and sensed what wasted hours and resources can do, it is hard  to fathom why people would fight to add another 2%  of  Marin’s land to the 88% which is already in open space, agricultural preserve and parks; rather than support a rail oriented development that would provide affordable housing, child care and less car-dependent communities.

Failing  to  comprehend  such logic, I often  fall  back  to thoughts Kishore Thakar, an Indian friend, left me.  Referring to his own caste-and-class riddled society he said, “People need  to walk a mile in other peoples’ sandals to understand the toil  and misery that goes into living the life of those who struggle.  For those  who move about easily,  the blisters developed  from  that walk  remove both the calloused perceptions some have  of  others and the scales that blind their view of what their actions do  to others.  It would do the world good if more people who move about easily  served a few years doing what you Peace Corps are  trying to do.

“Buddhists believe that each life should bring more enlightenment  and less need for selfish desires.    If in this life  we do  not become enlighten over what our actions cause  to  others, then  our reincarnation should be to walk endless miles  in  the sandals of those upon whom our actions stepped most heavily.”

 

Dwayne Hunn is a Mill Valley free lance writer.

 

Teaching from the Peace Corps

The Plain Dealer, Friday August 2, 1991

 Teaching from the Peace Corps

 By Dwayne Hunn

 “Buck sheis de do, shab?  Khanna mangta hai.  Boock laga  hai…” he said, as he tugged my hand.  He stood belt level and I  turned away after glancing at him.  He kept holding and tugging, as  the teeming masses of Indians moved beside us on the sidewalk.

“Boock laga hai, boock laga hai, tora khanna mangta  hai…” he said as he rubbed his stomach and tugged my hand.  I tried  to look  at him as we kept walking in the crowd.  In  training  they had  told us that we would have to decide how to handle  beggars.  In  training, they had told us that 1/2 of India’s  beggars  were purposefully maimed.

“How do they get a statistic like that, does the  government go around and ask, `Did you purposefully maim your kid?'”  I  had skeptically asked.

During  my first five minutes in the streets, I had  trouble starring into the face of this boy whose cheek had a whole in  it the  size  of a Kennedy silver dollar, ringed  with  pus,  sores, exposed  teeth  and ugly gums.   Ahead, curbside on  the  street, were skateboards that American kids careen around on for fun.  In Bombay  they  are used by kids without hands, ankles or  legs  to reach  the  car or taxi at the light, grab its  handle  and  beg, “Paise de do, shab…  Gorib admi, shab..”

The  homeless  and  poor seemed to be  everywhere.   In  the financial district of the city, where piles of garbage were  left to  be picked up early in the morning, I naively asked the  scavenger, searching the piles which the rats always worked,  what he was  doing.   A weak “Khana (food), shab,” was his reply,  as  he continued  slowly  searching the mounds of garbage.  On  a  train trip, I laid on my pack at a village station and watched a family with a pants-less child defecate diarrhea on the train  platform, and use his fingers to lick it.

As  a kid living on the poor side of Cleveland, I  met  only one  beggar, whose cut foot my mother cleaned after  she  brought him  into the house and fed him.  As a Peace Corps  volunteer,  I saw them maimed and crippled and begging all day, everywhere.

Of  course,  I got to see the Taj Mahal, Ajanta  and  Allora Caves and stuff a kid from a working class family would not  have had  the  vacation money to see.  Those tourist  sights  made  me develop  a simplified philosophy of why the India I knew  in  the late-60’s  had the human problems it had, and has.  To build  the palaces for the rich, and naturally cooled, hand carved caves for the  influential religious classes took a tremendous  number  of  manhours and resources.  Energy that was not spent on  irrigation systems, infrastructure and education.

Little  did I realize how some of those experiences  working on Urban Community Development in the slums of Bombay would  prep me  for  today’s America.  My first work site, the  Worli  Chawls slum had  water available for only an hour a day,  usually  with enough pressure to reach the 2nd story of the typical four  story tenements, from about 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.  If you lived on the third  or  fourth story, you bucketed water up to store  in  your water drums.

For  years now I have lived in affluent Marin County,  California,  where in recent years we were limited to 50  gallons  of water per day per person.  The I captured rain water in drums and saved shower water in buckets and bucketed it to some very  basic toiletry  needs.  Homelessness and  begging has become a  growing problem  in  Marin   and a bigger problem in  Big  Brotherly  San Francisco.

On a shrinking planet whose resources are limited and  whose population  is  pushing 5 billion  with an increasing  number  of homeless and hungry, there is little justification in doing  more Taj  Mahals, even if we had powerful S&L financing and  visionary Trumph leadership.  There is obvious justification for increasing irrigation systems, infrastructure and education worldwide.

My  two  years of oversees work reinforced  my  belief  that there is a tremendous need for expanding the Peace Corps overseas and  its  resultant  educational benefits at  home.   Working  on affordable housing and land use problems in the North Bay of  San Francisco for almost 9 years continually exposed me to  opponents of  affordable housing, whose view of the world is  dominated  by preserving what they got and only allowing more palatial  estates to  be built.  How their relatively powerful actions play on  the stage the rest of the world must live on matters not.  They  fail to  see  how the use of our land to support  and  provide  energy efficient transit modes and affordable ownership housing  impacts not only those near their county borders but those oceans away in our  shrinking and ecologically fragile planet.  The NIMBYs  (Not In  My  Backyard)  elect NIMTOs (Not In My Term  of  Office)  who usually produce LULUs (Less than Useful Land Uses) by doing DECME (Density Erasers Causing Million Dollar Estates) projects  rather than meeting the working people’s and the environment’s  housing, transit and community development needs.

The  Maharajas’  produced  Taj Mahals by edict.   We  do  it through  a  more democratic process of meetings that  produces  a veiled but often similar result.  To a Peace Corps volunteer  who has seen and sensed what wasted hours and resources can do, it is hard  to fathom why people would fight to add another 2%  of  Marin’s land to the 88% which is already in open space, agricultural preserve and parks; rather than support a rail oriented development that would provide affordable housing, child care and less car-dependent communities.

Failing  to  comprehend  such logic, I often  fall  back  to thoughts Kishore Thakar, an Indian friend, left me.  Referring to his own caste-and-class riddled society he said, “People need  to walk a mile in other peoples’ sandals to understand the toil  and misery that goes into living the life of those who struggle.  For those  who move about easily,  the blisters developed  from  that walk  remove both the calloused perceptions some have  of  others and the scales that blind their view of what their actions do  to others.  It would do the world good if more people who move about easily  served a few years doing what you Peace Corps are  trying to do.

“Buddhists believe that each life should bring more enlightenment  and less need for selfish desires.    If in this life  we do  not become enlighten over what our actions cause  to  others, then  our reincarnation should be to walk endless miles  in  the sandals of those upon whom our actions stepped most heavily.”

 

Hunn, a former Clevelander living in California, was a Peace Crops volunteer in India.  The corps is celbrating its 30th anniversary.

We must plant the seeds of peace

 Tuesday, Sept. 3, 1985, Marin Independent Journal

OPINION        EDITORIALS

 We must plant the seeds of peace

 Dwayne Hunn

 PEACE CORPS                            

 FOR MORE THAN A DECADE the deserts have spread over once-produc­tive African lands. Now African famines are the harvests being reaped. In our Latin American back yard inflation soars, insurrections take innocent lives, governments tumble and communist regimes spring up or become more likely.

Our answer? Politically, the out-of-power party blames the in-power party for not implementing a long-range plan to combat such tragedies and evils. What I propose is a program for which both parties can take credit – the Democrats for initiating it and the Republicans for expanding it. Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator of this decade, could assure his place on the list of great presidents by a simple bold but peaceful move.

In the early 1960s, Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps first director, said:

“If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corps is, perhaps, in the long run the most important…What happens in India, Africa, and South America – whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not – may well determine the balance of peace.”

In 1966 America spent $114 million to send 15,556 Peace Corps volunteers into service, the most dollars ever committed to volunteers.

At the time, Sen. Jacob Javits proposed a Peace Army of a million young men. Labor leaders advocated a service corps of 100,000. The Peace Corps first deputy director, Warren Wiggins, called for a corps of 30,000 to 100,000.
In 1984 America spent approximately $108.5 million and sent approximately 5,200 volunteers into service.
What happened? Had the world’s plight improved so much that we could cut the Peace Corps by two-thirds? Were the hearts and minds of enough Third World people swayed to see the economic and social benefits of the democratic way? Had communist-inspired tur­moil and revolt diminished? Did we find a better way to let the world know who we Americans were than by exporting our skills, courage and heart through the Peace Corps?
From 1965 to 1974, we assigned 2,582,304 soldiers with a budget of $138.1 billion to defoliate, mutilate and whore over the countryside of Vietnam. The cost for these services was $53,480 per soldier. In that same period we sent 108,579 Peace Corps volunteers with a budget of $956 million to teach, build and inspire over the world. The cost was $8,809 per volunteer.
If America had used the Southeast Asian war budget to send volunteers into the world, America could have sent more than 15 million people out to plant crops, ideas and ideals. Which choice do you think would have most benefited our long-term national security de­sires? Our economy? The global village’s needs?
Former California Congressman John Bur­ton in his last Washington Report to his constituents wrote in 1981:

“When I was first elected to Congress eight and one-half years ago, some of the issues facing us were the war in Vietnam, the escalating arms race… Now as I leave Congress, the issues are American involvement in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America, which might become the next Viet­nam, the nuclear arms race typified by the MXmissile…”

What America needs today is leadership that will put 100,000-plus volunteers into the field of economic development:

  • Challenging communist economic ideas with practical programs.
  • Helping Africa reclaim its desert and grow food.
  • Pitting the character of the working volunteer against the slogans of radicals and terrorists attempting to antagonize the masses.
  • Establishing the economic and education­al infrastructure of developing countries.

    Then we need leadership that challenges the Russians to do the same. President Reagan is

the only leader that could do this today.

In 1963 President John Kennedy said: “In some small village, volunteers will lay a seed which will bring a rich harvest for us all in later days.”

He was right. It happened. But the crop comes from small gardens. We should be tilling fields upon fields. The time is late. We need to lay more seeds.

Dwayne Hunn of Mill Valley sewed in the Peace Corps in India from 1966-68 and speaks to groups about the importance of the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps: Planting the Seed of Hope

Glendora Press January 14, 1970

Peace Corps: Planting the Seed of Hope

(Editor’s Note: Following is the last in a series of series by Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn relating his experiences as a member of the Peace Corps in India.)

By DWAYNE HUNN 

These months were not like the first. These flew. Socially I was beginning to aculturize myself. I had my third and forth date. I swam more often at the British swimming pools. I and fellow volunteers met an American engineer, who dined us into better health and partied us into better spirits while arguing us back into remembering how the mainstream of Americans thought and life was filled more with doing projects than with searching for projects to do.

The garden, library, and milk program continued to func­tion well. The orphanage still held my heart and two days a week in my schedule. But the brunt of my work centered around the school. My philosophy regarding increased involvement by these well-to-do students in their nation’s needs became more sophisticated.

In other words, fewer words were spoken this semester but more action was achieved. A few pictures, like the beg­gar at the foot of the building, plus some talk in key circles got the program into motion.

The year before a half dozen students made a trip with two of the British teachers to help build wells in Bihar. No wells were actually built. Instead, the group got involved in food distribution and, more importantly, they lived with the hungry, ate as they did, and tried to work under those conditions.

This year I wanted to get more kids involved and get them to actually accomplish something. Through a rugby contact I found what I needed.

Sister Teresa and her three assisting nuns were amazing people. The home was a tragic and wonderful place. In Build­ing Three one couldn’t miss the deaf and dumb, groveling paraplegic as he squirmed and groaned across the floor. He made the other pathetic humans there pale in comparison,

The men in Building Two all had their senses, but were without the use of such things as their leg, or arms, or couldn’t control their urinary cycle. Building One had every­thing the other buildings had, only there the ancient people continued what was called life.

The Cheshire Home, and its patients unnerved me. But the four Spanish Catholic nuns prayed, worked and sang through their young lives as if they were cast far the Sound of Music.

I was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which I got 30 volunteers for the 10-day work camp. The British chairman on the board for the Cheshire Home was delighted with my idea of supplying labor while the board supplied money for most of the needed projects, the smaller other part of the money I was able to obtain from the Peace Corps.

After 10 days at the home we had built a new chicken house, painted and fixed much of the furniture, cleared and seeded some very tough terrain into a large garden, started and failed at establishing a handicraft class for the patients, painted and repaired the servants quarters and water pump, and helped cook meals for everyone.

For all but two or three of the group this was the first extended manual labor they had done in their 16 or so years of life. It was also the first time that any had worked for the lowest castes of Indians, rather than the reverse which they were accustomed to. It was the first time they had roughed it.

We slept under the stars near the newly developed gar­den and ate mostly rice, tasteless chowpatis, platins and gallons of tea. It was a hard diet for them to adjust to but, I think, it showed them something. They had engaged in a so­cially responsible act and had made it succeed. If the thought of the deed would linger, if the thought would plant a seed, if the seed would sprout into a habit, then this capable class of Indians could start adding richness to a great mass of humanity.

It was not all labor among the miserable. During the hot afternoons they found light, pleasant conversations taking place with the sisters adding a beauty to them. Afternoons also sometimes found fooling with their friends, the two Bri­tish teachers, or for those who thought they had energy to burn, jumping their two PCV’s and dousing — excuse me, trying to douse them in the nearby pond. It was hard work, but fun, and they were heroes when they returned to school after their summer vacation.

After the work camp I took my last break. I had been reading about the famine conditions in Bihar, though the lo­cal cinema houses had shown only one documentary on the drought and famine conditions — what was shown all the oth­er times made one feel that India was sprinting into the 20th century amid religious festivities, steel mills and agricultural wonders; now I wanted to see some of those conditions. So I again threw some stuff in my green bag and climbed aboard a third class train out of Bombay.

If the monsoon doesn’t come before the middle of June, most of India’s farmers suffer dearly. This was one of the states in worse shape than Bihar, only the government did not want to reveal these plights. Well, I never tried digging in the fields outside of the train’s windows but its parched, brown, barren condition drove the small farmers plight home.

After some days, I reached Benares, India’s holy city. Since it was early morning and I was feeling better, I quickly hailed a bicycle-walla and toured the city. The temples, the pagodas, the university, and the Ganges, with its dirty brown, but believed drinkable, holy water, were sights; but by the time the heat of the afternoon arrived they had lost their appeal to me, I left the bike man for the benefits of a small but air conditioned room. I had dinner, took two quarts of beer to my room, wrote in my diary, and slept. The next day I decided on the hill air over that of India’s hot stuff.

I trained to Patna, and seeing wells, and green patches along the tracks of Bihar state, I figured that her notoriety was at least making something happen here about the drought. Not much was happening along those miles of tracks through the other three states.

From Patna I flew to Katmandu, Nepal where I spent about five days, and then on to the Pokhara valley at the foothills of Annapurna for three days of trekking. I stopped in Delhi where I again met Ambassador Bowle’s wife, who with her husband had visited my chawl work site; and then I returned to Bombay to finish up a few months of work.

I wrote a few radio scripts comparing American and Indi­an histories of development, continued checking on the chawl programs, played and coached basketball, went to the orphanage, and taught and coached at Cathedral School. The remaining months flew by and when the end approached I debated about extending. A fellowship at grad school, thoughts of preparing more for a career, and the draft pulled me back and cut my travels home to a month.

I still wonder if rushing home was the right path. I know it was a most intense period of my life, I was flooded with new physical, mental, and emotional experiences. I was forcing myself to work on my own, to contemplate, to read, to write and to wonder just what a world of perceived misery, new friends, new acquaintances and new thoughts were doing to me, the person. Still don’t really know what all those vibrations did. Do know, I wouldn’t trade those experiences.

Why build these cities beautiful

If man unbuilded goes

In vain we build the world

Unless the builder also grows

Edwin Markham

You know, when the Peace Corps left town the heart of the heart of the rugby team left with it. But some native heart blossomed at about the same time. The Indian Police team, coached some by John Fuller Sessions and prompted on by the PCVs played the Berahi Shabs of the Rugby Club when we were leaving.

For the first time, the Police beat them handily. It looked like it might be a pattern. Competition would be keener from then on. Respect would soon became two-sided, and sweet. Somebody had made those losers believe they could become winners.

To me, that’s what building’s about. To me, that’s what the Peace Corps was about. I like to believe that many peo­ple from our group planted some seeds, started some projects, laid some foundations that will help those men build their own world, and grow too.

 

 

 

 

India Elite Has Chance To Aid Own

Glendora Press January 11, 1970

India Elite Has Chance To Aid Own

By DWAYNE HUNN

It was during the first monsoon that I would take on an­other extra-curricular activity which would introduce me to another life style in India.

Dave, one of  our UCD23 basketball players, who was in the unsuccessful UCD land development attempt, was a founding manager and captain of Fordham’s revived Rugby program of l964-65. Thus he had become interested in playing the sport and accepted when he was asked by some British chaps to play for the Bombay Gymkhana Club.

Lynus, another PCV, but one who did very little work and devoted most of his time to partying, drinking, and girls, also played. Dave introduced me to a few of the Rugby play­ers and they invited me to play, as I did. Rugby, a combina­tion of the skills of football and basketball without the pads, was fun. But a major part of the game was the drinking and partying after the game. On a PCVs’salary, we could not go that route often, but the hospitality of the British helped us to do so.

Their parties were a welcome diversion, for they had good food and sometimes some pretty girls. The young Bri­tish chaps were obviously interested in the latter attraction of those parties. We were too. However, the pretty girls ran a poor second to the attraction the food they put on the table held over us. The British, at first, were amazed at how repeatedly we’d return to the serving table and how long into the party we’d eat.

Educationally, rugby was a good window into British thought concerning the Indians. Many of them were embarrassed for us because of the conditions we lived under and felt we were foolish to try to teach the Indians by working from their level.

John Fuller Sessions, a British teacher at Cathedral School and rugby captain, saw this ruler-shah philosophy among both whites and Indians at the club, social, and edu­cational level. I realized it by working and living with the lower echelon, being part of the rugby club, and through at­tending rich Indians’ parties.  Not wanting to believe this was a natural trait of the upper classes, I decided, following John’s suggestion, to do some teaching at Cathedral School.

I was interested in entering teaching as a profession aft­er returning to the states and thought this might he a unique teaching experience. But that was not my main motive for teaching at Cathedral School (CS). CS did not seem to need good teachers as much as good workers were needed in social action programs.

I realized this. I also realized my language deficiency and that I would not be here forever. I felt, though not without a retort from my Christian-bred conscience, that it was not my, or America’s, prime responsibility to rectify inequities in a nation that was not mine by birth or citizenship.

I felt, with support from my conscience, that if I could, in some way, make Indians who possess the native and economic tools to see and feel and work against the inequities, then I would have done my, and America’s, part.

 Cathedral School was one of the three best schools in Bombay. It had the likes of the son of the Chief Minister of Bombay and the niece of the Prime Minister Gandhi. It also had the sons and daughters of those struggling middle class-families who knew the value of a good school’s name in get­ting their kid a little further ahead.

I started teaching part way through their first semester. I taught, and in some cases first had to learn, subjects such as British and Indian history, Indian geography, moral sci­ence, physical education, journalism, world history, and an honors course.  In all of them I found a setting to express my philosophy that they, the well-to-do, must get involved with their nation’s problems, which they so easily ignore or over­look.

How hundreds of well-dressed and well-fed kids could he chauffeured daily past the beggars, pass them walking to lunch at the local restaurants, and when asked in class to de­scribe what they noticed on the back street — say nothing about the baby who lived on the sidewalk, or the others, was beyond me.

I continued to take my bike into the main street, grab onto a speeding truck, and whiz to the orphanage from Cathe­dral School. Worli was also still on my visit list. But with se­mester break I also found the other work situations condu­cive to a month break for personal travel. I threw a leather bag over my shoulder and with some money from home and what I had been able to save, I was soon flying to Thailand to visit a PCV buddy from the Pakistan group we had both trained in before switching to our present country programs.

Thailand was hosting the Asian games, Dave was hosting me and his Thai friends felt they must host us. What a con­trast Thailand offered. The people were healthy, strong, and proud. Bangkok, in parts, looked like street corner shopping centers back home. Stores had window displays, streets were clean and officers directed traffic, nights were clear, quiet and romantic.

Dave mixed very little with Americans other than PCVs. He was down on the military and the influence they had in Thailand and found his Thai friends much more entertaining.

Even the trains were a joy to ride and the rich, verdant scenery was part of the eason. The green land and healthy brown people were helping me unwind from the grimness of India.

I took a ferry to Penang Island, found a cheap, little room, and walked in the drizzling rain to attend Mass on Christmas Eve in Malaysia. It was a lonely, pensive, and happy, though not merry, Christmas. I thought the typical thoughts — home, family, old girl, the past year’s rich and different experiences.

Later I laid in bed trying to assess just what all those influences were doing to form me, the man I would be.

The next day I found the PCVs who had been in Bangkok the week before and accepted their then extended hospitality. They lived in a pleasant little suburban house, exemplifying the fact which the PCV no longer hides, that not all PCVs ­are living in gutters. I stayed for three or our days, and dug their food too. I also dug the island and its deserted beaches, rolling hills, and neat secluded huts, all of which I saw first hand during my one-day, 52 mile bike trip around the island.

In Ipoh I visited with the family of a Malaysian whom I played rugby with in Bombay. They treated me like an honored guest. Yet, it took me a day to realize just how far their hospitality was extending.

My arrival at the Deen’s home coincided with Ramadan, which meant that all Muslims were fasting and praying Koran from dawn ‘til dusk. The Deen family, being especially religious, was eating at 4 p.m. (sunset) only, while they were feeding me gigantic and scrumptuous portions three times a day.

It was comfortable being in a family setting again and nice being treated as an honored guest. It was more than nice to know that this was happening to a stranger from a land 7,000 miles away.

I left the Deen family knowing a bit more about one devoted Muslim’s interpretation of his religion. Watching Mr. Deen spend hours in front of his TV listening to the chants of the Koran reader, talking with him about his beliefs and mine, and reading a Muslim book he gave to me made me feel how insignificant any comparative  religious learning I had been exposed to was. I left the Deen home with gratitude, love, and another little inkling of what brotherhood was about. I left for the road, and I stuck out my thumb. A few days later, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and their people were just pleasant memories. I was back in Bombay to work for nine months.

 

 

 

 

 

Forever, You Were Victim Of the System

Glendora Press January 1970

Forever, You Were Victim Of the System

By DWAYNE HUNN

Kiki and Melody soon left the area, and I survived on a rice and dahl lunch that my cook left at the nurse’s chawl, where the girls had lived, and by eating out for dinner. The girls, plus Marilyn, Dave, and Jerry tried to nurture a UCD project from scratch.

For months they battled the red tape until they had purchased a piece of land in a slum area. They then rounded up plans, got a contractor, and found a shell-like material that would be cheap, easy and quick for construction.

Finally after about five months of having reached many peaks of frustration, disgust, and disappointment, they were ready to implement their plan.

They started clearing the land they were to build the peoples recreation-education-PCV living-center on and on the very first day the Indians, who were starting to understand the meaning of their project, pitched in. After two or three days, the group re­turned to the PCV hostel with faces that read exhaustion, disgust and frustration. It was not physical exertion that beat them, but the system.

The landlord from whom the land was purchased was not the rightful owner. The technicality which killed the program centered around something about the rightful owner refusing to sell the land unless it could be counted as his required 10 percent public deed. Hazy politics killed a good project and embittered the volunteers involved.

Jerry and Dave were part of our PC b-ball team which started playing about a month and a half after our arrival. We had played a series of games in training at Columbia and looked pretty good.

Our first night of Indian b-ball didn’t reflect the same. Nagpadda Neighbor House, considered one of the four or five best in the state, was our opener. They were all little guys and they, some in bare beet, ran us off their dirt floor with a score around 100-60.

It was pretty embarrassing    for us big, bad Americans to walk home through the crowd hat night. I could make plen­ty of excuses, but our Indian rivals would just demand equal time or a rematch—nei­ther of which I, or probably my wind, could supply, so I’ll just give a few excuses.

Al-34, Bill-30, Kevin-40, Jerry-27, Dave-33, Dwayne-24; yes, in time we all had numbers, but those were not on our uniforms. Those were the number of pounds which were not on our frames anymore.

Under such redesigning, the old two-footed chassis did not feel much like running, in any gear. Running their light, lit­tle frames was all those brown guys knew. What they were telling us was we’ll teach you the game our way, in our climate, on our dirt floors, with our greasy foods to fuel on.

When Bill and Kevin moved into the YMCA they were nat­ural attractions because they were Americans. After a few months they were attractions because they were also the best coaches around and the neatest white guys that neigh­borhood ever knew. Girls and guys from 12-20 knew Bill and Kevin for all the teams they coached, and what they did through coaching was more than just teach b-ball.

The Indians knew some of the fundamentals of b-ball, like run and shoot. It took someone with a different out­look to stress the importance of teamwork and steady hard practices. Lingering caste ideas were quickly drilled out in Bill and Kevin’s system of play.

B-ball was a tremendous public relations asset for the corps. The Peace Corps may be well known here and in some educated circles throughout the world, hut in cosmopolitan Bombay it was little known.

Well, there are many Indi­ans who can’t afford the luxu­ry of picking up hitch-hikers and who know nothing about Kennedy other than his face and that they liked him. How­ever, many of those know that the Peace Corps is a good basketball team filled with Americans.

It’s the team with a couple “DARa Singhs,” in other words big, tough guys named after India’s best wrestler; it’s the team with Zubair, the only four-foot, pre-teen, seventh man in India’s big leagues, and our leader.

Ball was fun, and as sports usually do it made us a pretty tight unit on or off the court. But it sure made you tired, especially when it was a night game far from home and one had the bus, train, and the walk to cope with before one reached the rack.

Those were the nights, with a post-game celebration of or­ange soda, a bus, a train, and a walk that I heaped especially large praises on the luxury of sleep as I had known it.

Passing bodies sleeping on the streets, in open spaces between buildings, on maidans, on curbs, on train benches; used to make me super-sleepy. I even thought, on oc­casion, like I’d just like to lie down with the masses. I never did though, and the thought made me appreciate my bed, even with the ticks, mosqui­toes, and occasional passing mouse that visited.

Since I had not mastered Marathi over the monsoon I spent more time at the orphanage, looked far social education programs that I could just plug into the chawls, and found a new work sire. Before I left the center, though, I’d learn more about getting things to grow.

Because I was white and could play the role of some­one fairly important, or was too tired to show how unimportant I was, I had swung, without knowing how great a quantity it was, six liters of milk for the girls and myself, during our third month in In­dia. There was, for the aver­age Indian, a waiting period of over a year to receive even one liter of milk.

It was too much and, though I continued to drink much of it, we gave some of our allotment to our cook and to another friend. If it was that easy, I figured it could be done on a grander scale. So by running through the red tape maze as an American in a hurry, and it still took a long time, I set up a milk feeding program for about 60 pre-nursery school children.

To ensure that the milk powder, contributed by Uncle Sam through Catholic Relief, was not pilfered to the black market or others, the kids had to be fed while in school or brought to the school by an older person with a cup and drink the milk on issuance. It was a good program and once it was set up I only checked infrequently since the women handled it beautifully.

An old mali, Hindi for gardener, was the real driving force behind one of my last projects in the chawls. I had suggested to Dr. Sabnis that, even in the city, people could, since most were recently immigrated farers, start kitchen gardens with hardly any capital needed. I even suggested that I might be able to supply some seeds. He was skeptical. I was too.

From what I had seen of the sand of the maidan and the debri sewn ground be­tween the chawls, I didn’t think much could grow. The mali, when I approached him on the possibility of starting a garden on the ground between the center and the nursery, only said, “seeds are not available, shah.” That was  all, aside from a not too well hid­den fear of having to do all the ground work, he listed as a drawback.

A week before the monsoon hit he and I were raking, dig­ging, and clearing, and I got more lessons in the “clean hands mania” of caste riddled India. My two young friends and Marathai tutors, Radashom and Dilip, when I explained the principle and strength behind such an undertaking, agreed.

But when I called on them to pitch in with the work, they  did so for only a few minutes before they feigned a reason to leave. During hours of la­bors stretching over a few days the mali and I had no more than ten minutes of help, though we had many who would stop, observe, pass on, laugh, or move to play games on the maidan in front of us.

We finished two days before the rains came. I was still skeptical that anything would issue forth from the sterile land. The mali merely said, “Barsat girta hai, seeds laga hai,” which meant “rains fall, seeds will come up.” Two days after those rains kept tumbling, those green shoots kept coming.

It was a joy to have green things grow outside the win­dow when all around was the sand color, the gray masonite color, the sprinkles of gar­bage color.

We had to make an addition to the garden right after our first crop. Due to unanticipat­ed crop depletion (by the hungy and poor), we added a barbed wire fence. The produce went to the nursery school kids, and, I hope, that old mali got his share.

 

 

Kids Like Attention In India, Too

December 31, 1969, Glendora Press

Kids Like Attention In India, Too

(Editor’s Note: the following is another in a series of articles by Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn relating his experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India.)

By Dwayne Hunn

On a chance search through a social service center in the city, I made the acquaintance of a Dr. Pai.  Dr. Pai was one of those rare Indians.

He was well-educated abroad, had been to a dozen or so American universities on Fulbright and Rockefeller grants, and was dedicated to bettering his country.

At that time he was teaching college medical courses and requiring that his students get involved in a program of family planning clinics that he was taking to the slums and factories.  I mentioned that I had a large hall that theoretically could be said to reach about 40,000 near-by chawl dwellers.

*

In a few weeks the center had a family planning exhibit that lasted 10 days.  The purpose of the clinic, aside from involving his students in a crucial area, was to educate the poor in just what family planning and birth control meant.

After the educational program, Doctor Pai told whichever parent was present that the male could have a harmless and technically reversible vasectomy performed and receive a rupee reward in return.

Being raised a Catholic, I had ideas against this kind of birth control, but India had given many of those ideas food for thought.

I was a little disappointed in the numbers that turned out for the educational program and not very impressed with the three or four vasectomies Dr. Pai performed. Dr. Pai, however, did not seem disheartened.

His drives and optimism seems to be paying off for about five months ago (this is 1969)  I heard from Dr. Pai.  It was not a very personal communique, but it made me feel rather important, like I had been around for the start of something big.  It happened after a late dinner while I was watching 60 Minutes at Rubel’s Castle in Glendora, California.

*

To my TV screen came Dr. Pai talking of the successes of his scheme.  He had started taking it to rail road stations and textile mills, with PCVs helping advertise his educational program, while I was still in India.  Now it had caught on so well that it was about to be spread to other large cities.

Monetary incentives were still being given to males as inducements to this activity as well as to contact who brought in the “vasectomee.”

June, if all goes climatically well for the Indians, is the start of the monsoon.  For me, it was also the time to decide the course of my future work pursuits.  If I wanted to make it as a strict UCDer I would have to spend hundreds of hours during the next months mastering Marathi.  My work habits had, in a sense, decided this for me.  I could not sit and study 8 to 10 hours a day, even if it was raining out.  I kept plugging away at what I felt were good experiences and jobs and let the future shift out a work pattern for me.

*

In mid-June I overheard a few volunteers mention that an orphanage was interested in having a PCV.  I’d like the idea of working with an orphanage and thought that this might be a new fulltime work site.  Since my Marathi was weak, and since the PCV girls across the street were about to move out, which would return my feeding habits to the street restaurants, I was thinking of new work sites.

Father Nelson, the main work horse of the orphanage, responded favorably to the idea of my coming out twice a week to direct the physical education program, to teach a little, and just to mingle with the kids.  He did not see that it would be possible for me to live at Our Ladies Home for another 6 to 10 months, since the school was being enlarged and would not be ready till then.

The orphanage holds a special niche in my heart.  It was filled with much.  It had the old priest, who technically was Father Nelson’s superior, but who did not work, seemed irritated by the kids, and was seen only at tea time by me.

*

It had Father Nelson, whose seemed to put in 20 hours a day with the kids, always seemed bedraggled, and desired to be the learned philosopher but who, burdened with work, had no time to read, think, or contemplate.

It had teachers who did not qualify for the good paying, which was still terribly low paying, jobs of the municipal schools; nice young men and women trying to do a good job on the younger minds without the experiences, training, and texts that help make them dynamic.

Most of all, it had the kids.

I can remember the first day I got close to those kids.  I can remember how their white teeth stood out on their brown faces, how their eyes sparkled with a special glint, and yet, how skinny their bodies were.

It was because so few people noticed how white and shiny their teeth were and special their eyes were that they were so hard to control.  They went wild when I showed them a new game or exercise.  They went wild when I put one of them on my lap, wrestled with one, or just fooled with one.

*

“Sir, sir, do that with me!  Show me!” you can use this same vein from the kids in the states, but there it meant something different, something more, something less.

Physical education in India is not very demanding.  Most Indian exercises seemed to depend on arm movements from a standing position, knee bends, and standing at attention.  My kids got to believe that pushups, isometrics, jumping jacks, squats, and all those other football exercises built muscles.

After a few months, most of the kids had to pull “Sir” aside to show many pushups they could do, to show their muscles, to show how they could touch their toes without bending their knees, or how hard they could push on an isometric drill.

They were such good kids, and I wished others could give them more.  For a while an English mother of three and her friend came to the orphanage to work with them.  When a buddy from Australia came to visit me, he spent five days, living, playing, and loving them.

*

But when, through publication in the Indian Express (a major newspaper), I tried to establish a weekend visit program to homes and families, it came to naught.  After the publishing of my letter, the only response I knew of was an invitation for me to come to dinner with a good family, because the breadwinner wanted to show me how beautiful Indian family life was.  As I said, it came to naught.

They needed but had little contact with the outside world.  The five days I lived with them was a time for daily trips to the museum, the harbor, and the downtown.  With few exceptions from the different ten kids I took each day, these experiences were all firsts that for them.

For most, riding the train into town was a first.  Taking them on a boat ride, I’d see their awe at being in a sailboat.  Walking around the harbor, I’d watch their excitement at seeing the Gateway of India, and feel my spirits rise and sag.

*

Leading them through the open air parlor area of the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the India’s plushest, and having a manager rush up to usher my not so well dressed brown kids out, made my blood pressure rise and caused a heated scene.