Actually, Friend In Need recently started a non-profit wing that is focused on transforming the experiential knowledge generated by our activities in Kameshwaram into models and tools for documenting and teaching processes for facilitating reflection and optimal choice. We believe that there is a real need for such models and teaching tools that can be applied at the village level. Our non-profit is called Sti4Change (see www.Sti4Change.com ). Manoj, co-founder of Pratanute (see http://www.pratanute.com) designed our website and he is our mascot in tools building for village use. This is a big challenge that most web business developers would totally shy away from. So why did Manoj do it? This is what I asked him.
“Manoj, I have only vague ideas at the moment about the tools and models that can be developed for representing and teaching how to achieve clean villages – and yet you have agreed to work with us. And, you have come to the village and are absorbing all the details. Why? Especially, when you could be sitting in a nice office, and building a nice app for a mainstream company and earning a lot more!”
This is what Manoj had to say.
“Well, from the beginning working with your team was different. I got respect for the work that I did. And then, I was made to feel part of a process for social change rather than being just a service provider. Finally, when I came to know about the activities which you are doing in Kameshwaram – even more before Prime Minister declared them and the importance of these issues for our health and our children, I was driven to support you!”
“Besides now, more and more people are aware and ready for change. But, we don’t know how to make this happen. So, even if there is nothing now, I am confident that thoughts/ideas will come – and keep coming and then these will take us further and further as we make improvements again and again – till we get something good.”
“Of course, we can’t replace manual processes with digital tools, but even with very simple software we can create applications that help to constantly and evaluate the process. This is where learning will come from and it will be more sure and faster than through memory.”
“When we build tools that can be used by many – then we can have ‘knowledge sharing’ – we can compare different ‘stylized processes’ and identify ‘good practices and role models’. These can be the drivers of change. Yes, we can make them so that they are very simple to use.”
“We can also build simple tools for impact monitoring – and these should create clear representations easy for all to understand. Our impact images should convince some of our reluctant villagers to join the waste management program and maybe even use toilets!”
On the 26th of January, 2015, India’s 66th Republic Day, we marked a new mission – to take the culture of ‘keeping fit’ through running, from Indian cities to Indian villages like Kameshwaram and including both women and men. ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’ is a maxim in almost all cultures, and since time immemorial men have been encouraged to keep themselves fit at all ages. On the other hand, with respect to women, ‘keeping fit’ through exercise was part of the social culture only in Western countries. Thanks to economic development and globalization, in developing countries with democracy and recognition of women’s rights, more and more women are striving to keep fit. In all Indian metropolitan cities, running has become a means for keeping fit, fostering learning and sharing and friendships. Raji – one of the pillars of Friend In Need India – is an inspiration for all women and especially mothers, grandmothers and would-be grandmothers showing that it is never too late to start running.
Read about her in:http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx…# and the community-organization that is teaching running is ‘Runner’s High’ athttp://www.runnershigh.in/index.php
In villages, social culture dictates that in any household where the earnings of men are sufficient, women stay at home. Not working outside means confinement to a very small space and having several hours free every day, which are now mainly used to watch television or socialize. Thus, despite the clean air, wonderful trees and enough food – according to our survey, women suffer from a variety of ailments and often a state of great mental and physical fatigue. We feel that this could be due to not having opportunities for physical exercise – which of course is even further impeded by the traditional form of clothing.
Towards this end, we want to organize two workshops for running in the village: one for school children and one for adult women in the village (but we are not sure if anyone will join in the workshop for adults – still it will be worth trying). If you wish to contribute to this event please go to http://friend-in-need.org/donate/ and drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our budget is 1 lakh rupees or INR 100,000 (or 1500 Euros or $1620 USD). This budget will be used to mainly buy shoes, sports accessories like balls for the children and refreshments for the village participants (INR 75,000) and travel and boarding for the selected teachers of ‘running'(INR 25,000). Thanks in advance.
We have a facebook page that is open to the public https://www.facebook.com/finindia Its purpose is to give insight on village life in India, the evolution of our village venture and also to raise awareness and consciousness on the problems of the poor – and beyond the poor – on the human state and what we can do to improve the situation. Sometimes – our posts attract a lot of attention – like this one put up on March 8, 2015 – on International Women’s day, which got ‘likes’ from women and men worldwide. Read on….
Do not be afraid of being the change you want to see….
There is a furor in India, indeed one that has been brewing for some time now, over the status and security of girls and women in India. This follows after the release of a film by the British journalist, Leslee Udwin, who has produced a very hard hitting documentary on the gang rape of a simple girl, an aspiring young physiotherapist, returning home by bus in Delhi, entitled ‘India’s daughter’. The documentary includes the view point of the rapists, who have absolutely no remorse, despite being sentenced to death by the Indian courts. The saddest part however is the despicable mindset of some important societal actors, like defense lawyers, and even other women in power – whose statements represent extremely backward perspectives.While this does show the terribly harsh and depressing side of India, let us not forget to see and keep in mind, what the film fails to show, namely the many torchbearers in India and the light they shine by helping women every day.
So let us not be afraid. I am a daughter of India, too, and there are many others, who like me, travel all over India, sometimes alone, sometimes in company – and have never been harmed. There are many very good men and women in India and I do believe these are the majority. And therefore, taking heed of the real existence of danger for women, drawing insight from the documentary, we must work together to remove this threat in India and elsewhere – by being the change we want to see and not losing courage to exercise our freedom of movement.
Today, on International Women’s Day it is time to take a stance. The freedom for women to feel safe in their own homes, villages, towns and cities is imperative to the idea of equality for women. It is not a movement for women but a human movement.
We would like to borrow words from Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson: “Men, Gender Equality is your issue too! Men should take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.”
It seems apt then to quote Statesman Edmund Burke, “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”
So on the International Day of the Woman, We, at Friend In Need invite you to think and step forward and take a stance. We close with the same words Emma Watson used when she launched the HeforShe campaign “If not me, who? If not now, when?”