When I moved to Dewas in October last year, I was apprehensive about how I would be able to connect with the communities I was going to work with. Most of them spoke Malwi, a language that was completely new to me. I hardly knew anything about dairy either, which happened to be the focus of our project. The objective was to promote dairy as a means of livelihood for women in rural Dewas.
It was clear to me, however, that nurturing trust and building connections with the women I was collaborating with, fondly called didis, extended far beyond the boundaries of the project itself. One of the primary reasons I embarked on this fellowship was to genuinely understand the perspectives of community members regarding development and the associated challenges.
As time passed, our early conversations, which revolved around topics like food and family, organically transformed into discussions about complex mindsets and societal issues. A few of the didis also seamlessly transitioned into the role of champions, supporting us with everything from community mobilization to communication, and even offering their insights into potential roadblocks and solutions.
Introducing the women of Tonk Khurd
Allow me to introduce you to three such women who have left a lasting impression on me during my time as a Banyan Impact Fellow. They have not only been an absolute joy to work with but have also taught me invaluable lessons through their resilience and spirited attitudes.
I wanted to capture their authentic voices and experiences, highlighting their agency, wisdom, and unique perspectives – again, not just as beneficiaries of the program, but as cherished connections who have had a significant impact on my fellowship experience and added to my learnings in profound ways.