We’ve reached the halfway point in our assignment, and I expect this will be a very busy week coming up. Good progress has been made, but we need to start tying things together for the client deliverables, and the final presentation, which will be here before we know it.
I’ve tried to keep up with the blog postings, to document a lot of the things that we’ve done and seen, but I haven’t covered too much about what it means to me. Preston has already written a very insightful and thoughtful post which captures a lot of what I and probably everyone on the team are also feeling.
In our opening workshops, it was emphasized that India is a country of extreme paradoxes. There is seemingly insurmountable poverty, yet at the same time, India has successfully launched a space probe into Mars orbit. Certainly every other country has similar problems, and Canada for example, has to face up to our past and present treatment of aboriginal, First Nations, and Inuit people. Alleviating these issues is a very long haul, and that’s one of the reasons we’re here, to help with our minute contribution.
And yet, I haven’t seen the same things in the field as some of my team mates have. Most of the people I’ve been working with are relatively well-off, and at the end of the day, they are like many of my work colleagues based in India, and much like me. They are part of India’s rapidly-growing (upper) middle class, who might own a car or a house, or can afford to spend ₹50 000 on a smartphone. Our NGO is focused on increasing income and capabilities in rural areas, so even in the countryside, we saw what might be considered success stories.
The previous CSC team to visit Jaipur (five years ago) used homestay accommodations with a local family, and travelled around by auto (-rickshaw) with abandon. It seems to me that they were truly immersed into the local community. We’ve also heard about other teams who have had difficulty finding reliable basic Internet connectivity.
In contrast, we have our barricaded enclave and car convoys. There are some legitimate security concerns (but more likely, fear of liability), which make our assignment feel more like an extended business trip. It’s no wonder then, that some of us might also be feeling an element of guilt.
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