Our July Field Visit

It was so good to be back in India after a prolonged absence! During our week long visit we managed to fit in quite a lot as you can see from these highlights…

Day 1: Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Today we visited our friends at SAATH – our implementation partner NGO for the Beautypreneur and Cooks Training Programme. It was a full day which started when we met up with the ladies who had recently completed the Beautypreneur business skills training. We then visited one of the ladies in her home salon (and sampled one of the treatments!). Finally we met our graduate cooks and were able to sample some of their delicious cooking!

Day 2 & 3: Kolkata, West Bengal

We arrived in Kolkata to meet up with our friends at Nirdhan – our partner NGO for Poultry Development Services and Agri-management Services in West Bengal. Our strategy meeting in the office was followed by a day at Familia Location where we launched PDS back in 2011 and closed earlier this year having achieved what we set out to do there. It was wonderful to visit a few of our farmers who have turned their micro-enterprise in chicken rearing into a fully-fledged poultry farming business and are now working completely independently. We travelled to the villages with Majeeda who took her very first job with us back in 2014 as a Livelihood Service Provider. We were delighted to hear that she has now set up her own clothes making business.

Day 4: Chhatna, Bankura District, West Bengal

We set off early from Kolkata to catch the 6am train to Bankura, about 200kms away. Our Field Supervisor, Nrushingha Jena, was there to meet us. He started working with us 10 years ago at Familia Location and as our most experienced team member we were delighted when he agreed to relocate to Chhatna to open our newest location for PDS earlier this year. It was great to meet all our new LSPs too and visit the women they are working with, helping them develop their poultry enterprises with their very first flock of ten chickens.

Day 5: Ganjam District, Odisha

We took the overnight train from Kolkata to Brahmapur station in Odisha. After a quick freshen-up we drove to meet the team from VIEWS, our partner NGO for the AMS Replication Programme in Ganjam District. Founder of VIEWS, Bheema Rao, and the field team took us to three tribal villages where we have introduced AMS this year. In each location, the whole community gathered to greet us and proudly showed us the progress they have made with their kitchen gardens, composting pits and the cultivation of the larger plots for growing rice and vegetables to sell at the local market. These tribal communities are on the outer fringe of society and have never received support from government initiatives or NGO programmes to develop sustainable livelihoods. It was obvious to see how our AMS programme is transforming their farming, enabling them to not only feed themselves but to provide a decent income in the long term.

Day 6: Nyagarh District, Odisha

This was our final day in the field. We travelled to Nyagarh District to meet the team at Nirman, our partner NGO for our first Poultry Development Services replication programme in Odisha. Founder Prasant Mohanty and the field team took us to three tribal communities to meet the women who have started to raise chickens to earn their own income for the first time. We were very impressed with their progress and particularly with how hard they had worked to build a really secure chicken coop – we soon learned why when they told us about the wild cats that are very prevalent in the area. As we approached the last village on our tour the monsoon rains came down in full force and the paths through the village were quickly flooded. The rudimentary houses with walls built from mud began to look very vulnerable. It was a stark reminder of just how hard life is for these remote, marginalised communities. Despite life’s daily struggle, the women we met exuded resilience, dignity and pride in their efforts to support their families. And many, many grateful smiles for the new opportunities they have been given.

And finally….

We want to thank everyone involved in making our field visit to India so memorable including:

  • Joe Rao, our Lead Consultant in India, for putting together our packed itinerary and making it work.
  • Chandrani Banerjee for leading the way on our visit to Familia and Chhatna and for her wonderful hospitality and home cooking!
  • The teams from our partner NGOs: SAATH in Gujarat; Nirdhan in West Bengal and VIEWS, Nirman and DSS in Odisha.
  • Aloke and Habib – the hardworking ‘backroom’ team at Nirdhan in Kolkata.
  • Vasant Subramanyan and family for hosting us in Kolkata.
  • KC Thomas and Kavita and the whole Familia Home family – always such kind and generous hosts to all who visit from and with Shivia.
  • The Shivia Livelihoods Foundation team, Nawshir and Khursheed Khurody and Malav Shroff, for their warm welcome when we arrived in Mumbai, arranging transport and for looking after us the end of our busy week.
  • And most of all, to the many families who so generously and joyfully welcomed us into their villages and homes – we are proud to be working with you.
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