Today is our free day! I finally have a few moments to reflect on the week…
We spent the past week working out in the field daily, interviewing local people in villages, and learning about the market demand for everything from microloans to potable water. We were provided question sets for the first three days in the field, and by Thursday and Friday we developed our own sets of interview questions related to our respective consulting projects.
Jude was my partner for the consulting project. She is an awesome teammate and I felt fortunate to work side-by-side with her the last two days. Our focus was the Byrraju Foundation Water Program. This program is one of the most robust and successful programs at Byrraju. My primary goal was to listen and learn as much as possible in two days’ time. Not only did I learn a lot about potable water, and the challenges associated with the implementation of water programs in rural villages, I saw the positive effects of clean drinking water on a community. Working with Byrraju staff and interpreters from students in local colleges gave us the opportunity to talk to multiple stakeholders and added another layer of expertise and richness to our experience.
As with all of my conversations with local people since my arrival in India, I was overwhelmed by our interviewees’ openness, curiosity, humble attitude, and kindness. When I started the week I was extremely uncomfortable asking invasive questions about people’s income, education, and family size. But, over and over again, they opened their doors and shared their lives. I can tell you if someone ever came to my door in the U.S. and started asking whether or not I was married, if I had children, and how much monthly income I generate, I would probably gently close the door in their face after the second question. I most certainly would not invite them in for tea and show them my home. If you want a lesson in what really matters in life, talk to people in India. They take pride in their generosity and hospitality toward their guests. They may feel pride in their occupation or income level, just as we do. But, there is no sign of ego ruling their consciousness. It was incredibly refreshing.
In short, I had a blast and I have yet to fully comprehend just how much I have learned. This kind of work is entirely new to me, and while physically exhausting, it is mentally and spiritually gratifying.