Monday, 16 May 2016

Educare India, a sustainable change

Educare provides a platform for young entrepreneurs to make a sustainable change in rural areas in India. I was part of the team in charge to open a new center in Rajasthan. The decision making process was challenging : in a few words, we, as freshly interns arrived in India, had to find a place to live and to start our projects. As a grass-roots level organization, the director had no plans about where the new center would be settled. We were part of this enriching process, leaders of change in India. We visited villages that could have been potentially a new VIKAS center for the organization. After three weeks of pros and cons evaluation, and due to refusal from the government to settle in some regions, the choice was finally made for RangMahal.

Once arrived in RangMahal, we had to find a house for us and in the long term, for the organization. From many options we had, the parameters we evaluated before making the decision were : the remaining work in the house before being able to move in, the privacy, the house as a long term basis for the organization, the image that would be given to the community and last but not least, the internet connection. (In fact, 3G was apparently working better in some areas of the village.) It was a month when we all experienced a sensation of uncertainty, which was overwhelming and perturbedour motivation. However, finally settled after one month, I was taking on my role as SWASH project manager and long meetings withs Mr B. gave north to my projects. 

The first objective was to make sure that the organization itself is sustainable. How can the organization be sustainable when six interns are generating more waste than the whole village ? How can the organization be sustainable when six interns are using 500 litres of water everyday ? Those were the first questions we had to deal with.

One week garbage in RangMahal

As interns, we are trying to be as sustainable as we can with the tools we get from the executive committee. That means reducing consumption and making the house as sustainable as possible : using grey water to flush the toilets, reducing toilet paper usage, reusing tea bags, not using plastic bags when purchasing any items from the shops, … 

Except for one representative in each center and the director, EduCARE is run only by interns. In a new environment, even with the ability to communicate in Hindi, running a project that would have real impact on the community was hard for me. So far, in RangMahal, we are increasing awareness about waste management through workshops in the government school.

Finally, this internship is a great enriching personal experience. I have met interesting people from everywhere, travelled around India, learned Hindi and lived far from my comfort zone, through one month in a homestay, sleeping in a room without doors and a hole in the garden as toilets, and rats in our kitchen…

Chasing the rat
This is all about grass-roots level and being a global citizen, the organization will give you the freedom to do whatever you want from your experience, with minimal supervision. It can be as exciting as challenging, but hopefully at the end it will lead into something positive.

Lamia Nouroudine Hassanaly - Madagascar/France
SWASH Project Manager in RangMahal

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