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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

DHAN - a paradigm shift in development activities!

DHAN - an organization with a difference which makes a difference! That’s where we (me and wify) spent 3 days last week, thanks to Raghini of DHAN and saw so much, felt so much, got filled with so much..

Joining the organization starts with a rigorous recruitment process of professionals...do you have the right attitude and aptitude for development work?? subsequent training programs and appraisal processess ensure that DHANites are still in tune with what is expected of them...no doubt they advertise asking for socially committed, efficient and motivated youths to apply for exciting, challenging career – Not just a job! Really jobs that fill their souls and is challenging and fulfilling at the same time as many of them confided to us.

The grassroot changes they have made has to be seen to be believed...the most tangible of effects is the empowerment of rural women..and we were witness to all the advantages that come to the rural society as a whole when its women are empowered.. women young and old, who before DHAN came into their lives, never even faced strangers are now ready to confront any issues that they or their village mates face..

One of DHAN’s early initiatives is Kalanjiam – which is basically microfinancing to bring in the concepts of savings, credit and health insurance…but what the initiative has achieved in addition to microfinancing has been to get the rural folk (mainly women) aware of the possibilities of making their life better. As one of the ladies who leads a massive co-op of 1000s of women in Madurai outskirts said, ‘now our life has bettered. We can afford food 2 or 3 times a day, but will be happy if our wards get jobs..’ how true! A perfect portrayal of ‘what next’..They have moved a bit in that direction through a tie up with a manufacturing unit and letting them share space in kalanjiyam’s premises employing the wards of the kalanjiyam women! There is no end to the innovation and authority of these rural women once u show them a path. Now they even have micro-insurance or easy insurance!

Another initiative Vayalagam helps farmers get financial aid for constructing “farm ponds” which in the farmers own words act as their “crop insurance” ..No more sleepless nights wondering if their crops will get the crucial rainfall and save them from total crop loss..They have precious rain water stored in their farm ponds to save them. Add to that Ooranis that they revive/plan in (drinking)water starved Ramnad district. Hats off..these guys are actually doing what the Govt shud be doing, hmmm…

The internet has shrunk the world for the urbanites…And DHAN’s Information and communication technology (ICT) initiative has extended this to the rural folk. DHAN’s well trained person who meticulously maintains these centres are seen by the villagers as the person with access to information..They support the Panchayat by maintaining soft copies of local records and various forms which can then be printed out on an as needed basis. They arrange for video conferences by agricultural experts, met dept, and doctors and seem to keep thinking of innovative ways of helping bring the information age to the villagers.

I can keep adding here, but then I cant wait to share my views about Vasimalai (Vasi as he is called by all over there)! I consider it my good fortune to have met him, a very unassuming, down-to-earth, soft spoken gentleman, who is the brain behind this great D-school (like B school ). This IIMA product is the founder of this Developmental organization with a paradigm shift. He is instrumental in delivering this Infy of the NGOs..a great idea, I shud say wherein, DHAN recruits and trains professionals and posts them to head various projects all over. The passion with which they all work, the motivation level, successes etched by them cant be described in words. Most importantly in the half hour I spent talking to Vasi, I cud not bring out the word “I” from his mouth. It was, we, the team, all our people all along. When asked to mention his passion in one word he said ‘organising the unorganised’ and when I insisted one word he smiled and said – people! If I had questioned about his breakfast too he wud have prolly said ‘ we all have early breakfast and rush to office you know…’ such is the humilty of this great man..
Such people are our hopes..such people are a boon..such people are a rarity..let us salute such personalities even if we don’t celebrate them!

Note: I shall post in detail later about how/what one can contribute to the various projects of DHAN, meanwhile visit the links given above and do what u reckon is best.

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