MINDS went to the village of Madheli to conduct a Mental Health Community Awareness Program. In the center of the village there is a large banyan tree and next to this tree there is a peaceful lake. This area provides a shady and serene place for villages to gather and relax.We conducted the program outside the village temple, next to the dairy.
This is where villagers come to get their milk and also deposit milk for payment (the fattier the milk, the more money you get). The dairy culture of India fuels economic activity in many rural villages. It was obvious which families were more prosperous, they were grouped on one side of the village- closer in proximity to the temple and dairy- and had bigger homes and more land. Diary is a staple in the Indian diet, as a result animal husbandry is a common occupation.
The presentation attracted the interest of the village children. Two children volunteered (with the condition that we pay them 10 rupees each!) to hold down our screen so it would not move with the wind. The children gathered around the set-up and asked many questions. We encouraged their curiosity because children are often a gateway into a community. They can take the knowledge they receive back to their parents and it will hopefully stay with them into adolescence and adulthood. We chose this location due to the close proximity to the dairy. Each evening villagers frequent this area for their milk ration. Several community members mentioned that they know of someone who exhibited symptoms related to mental and neurological illness. One laborer from Rajasthan told us that he knew of a person who suffered from seizures and that when he goes back to his hometown, he will pass along the information and tell that person to go to the hospital.