Majuli to Mandakani

The scenery outside of MMBS weaving center

While one works in a particular context striving to bring a change for better it is important to travel and see what others with similar intention are doing. This leads to exchange of knowledge which has several advantages. It can help you understand different approaches and avoid taking such steps which could be ineffective. I have had the flexibility from NEADS, my host NGO to travel across Assam and study what other organization are doing for better developing my project. Through AIF support, this time it was possible to go outside Assam and study another organization which is working very much in line to what I have been doing.

Women weaver weaving woolen shawl

In a field exposure I visited an organization called Mandakini Mahila Bunker Samiti (MMBS) in the Guptakashi in Uttarakhand.  This organization came into existence following the havoc caused by the flood in the year 2013 in Uttarakhand. The damage caused by the disaster was huge. Thousands lost their lives, families lost their main breadwinners and the local economy dependent on the pilgrimage was destroyed.  There was an immediate need to provide aid and numerous agencies thronged in with support. Certainly, there was the need to provide immediate aid in the form of food, clothes, medicines and other necessities, but equally important was the need to take measures to rebuild their livelihood along with those aids. Often agencies adopt free aid support while approaching a disaster struck area. The free aid support cannot be sustained for long where it can also lead to dependency in the community. Without the parallel approach of motivating and enabling them to work for themselves the free aid approach could have serious negative consequences in the long run. I had to face a similar context while working in my host community. For decades villages in Majuli, Assam has been facing heavy destruction from flood every year. Several agencies in the form of humanitarian response have been distributing free aid following the disaster. Without the lack of sufficient livelihood promotion approach, the communities here have developed serious dependency on aids. It has taken a lot effort in the villages where I work to get them out of this sense of dependency.

In response to the need for rebuilding livelihoods in Guptakashi which was one of the destroyed region from flood,  Mandakini Mahila Bunker Samiti (MMBS) was established in January, 2014. The need was to understand the context and design an intervention closely connected with the local culture, resource and most importantly the needs.

Yarn spinning through Charkha

The field exposure helped me study an intervention similar to my project of the fellowship. The objective of my project as well as that of MMBS is similar which is to promote economic development among the disaster affected families thereon building long-term sustainable livelihood. However, the context was different and the strategies to solve the similar problem was different. While MMBS work is based on women weavers working from a centre my project is about women weavers weaving cloths from their houses. Learning from the experience, I shared with my team at NEADS about the possibility of opening few centres and about its operational framework. Till now with my project RIHA, we were working only on silk. MMBS work with varieties of yarns like silk, cotton, wool, etc. The study helped me understand the potential of working with other yarns. Overall, it was a great learning experience. I thank the CFP team for helping me in getting this opportunity.

Being born and brought up in India, Dharamjeet is excited to contribute to the society through working for a social change. He sees AIF as one great learning opportunity. The experience of working with organization already established in social sector and sharing of the ideas with other enthusiastic co-fellows that could be a milestone towards his own dream project for social change, he believes. Through this fellowship, Dharamjeet intends to explore himself while working for a social cause and in the end discover a better self. He also wants to achieve hands-on experience of working with an organization and build a strong network with fellows to work in future for a social change. Dharamjeet has a post graduate degree in development. The course has trained him in doing researches and designing social intervention. He hails from an agriculturalist family, an upbringing and knowledge that he feels would help him in this fellowship.

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