I cannot express enough gratitude to the Byrraju Foundation. As I now sit on the night train to return to Hyderabad, I can finally fully reflect on the past 5 days spent in Bhimavaram (B-mov-rom) at the Byrraju Foundation guest house.
No fewer than 20 people worked to make our stay as comfortable and successful as possible. But a few gentlemen in particular exhibited an incredible amount of hospitality. Vumsi, Bhanu and Siva not only organized all of our meals and transportation but also elected to monitor the various ailments occurring throughout the group and the comfort level with our lodgings. Each of these men has a significant role managing programs at the Foundation but still opted to spend the week at our service. For this I thank them.
Siva, Vumsi, Siwat and the awesome spread for our final meal
Ranga Raju and M.R.K. Raju were also particularly helpful in acting as translators and guides for various groups in which I participated. They were so much fun and made our surveys possible! Ranga Raju even took us to his home for tea, and we spoke to his mother, wife and daughter-in-law. Byrraju felt like home in a very short amount of time. I will miss these now familiar faces.
“The Professor” leading us to his home
By now you’re probably wondering the reason for our visit to Byrraju. I’m so glad you asked… The Byrraju Foundation is an incredible organization that works to bring needed services to the villages around the Foundation. The Foundation currently supports 200 villages with 40+ programs. Our group was split into three teams, and we are each focusing on a program for a mini-consulting project for the Foundation. I am working with Slater and Michelle on healthcare. Jude and Katie are working on water purification. Adam, Mike and Simon are working on virtual education. The whole group toured all three programs and received an overview from the Byrraju staff, as well as from those in charge of the respective programs on-site. We were then given the opportunity to visit additional facilities for our individual project and to conduct market survey research with the people of the villages.
We didn’t even interview the woman in the second pic. But look at that adorable little bruiser!!
Each day this week has acted as a stepping stone to prepare us for this mini-consultancy project. And we will then leverage the learnings from this week and from this project as we begin our larger, culminating consulting projects next week. A typical day at Byrraju went something like this: 8am reflection meeting for 30-45 minutes before breakfast, lecture or class meeting for 1 – 2 hours, fieldwork in the villages conducting various market survey tasks, return to Byrraju for a debrief session and/or lecture, maybe more fieldwork or a random PR outing before dinner around 830, and finally free time. We typically spent our free time in the lecture hall as a group seeking the coveted ethernet cables.
Anywho… We spent yesterday getting a handle on our assignments and worked on creating our “instruments”, the question set we used to gather information from the villagers. We sought to obtain a picture of the target market, client profile, program reach, etc. And we then spent today interacting with another doctor and several villagers for our healthcare project. This seems like a good place to describe the way timeframes and plans work in India… oh, they don’t. Well, let me clarify. Plans work in India so long as you are prepared to constantly shift them, to go with the flow of uncertainty and to agree to random PR events. We do a lot of the ‘hurry up to slow down, figure things out and then eventually get there’. This is just how it goes. Assume you will accomplish about half as much as you think is reasonable. And do it with a smile.
I’m extremely excited to be working on the healthcare project. Slater and MIchelle have been fantastic teammates and the topic is challenging and interesting. SIdenote: the great thing about our group is that you really can’t craft a team that isn’t great. But it’s been a pleasure working with these two for the past two days. We were grouped up based (to the extent possible) on the topics we chose for our pre-trip papers so the assignments hold particular interest to each of us.
This program has been a great mix of challenging work, interesting sight-seeing and fun with the group. A big thanks to Kim for being a great source of knowledge while also constantly creating an open and fun atmosphere. It’s been refreshing to have both a professor and hilarious travel companion wrapped into one.
Did I mention that this trip rocks?