Keena and I are settling in with a warm and welcoming community SPS staff. When I say warm, I mean warm in all senses of the word. Today temperatures peaked around 50 degrees celsius and despite the lack of electricity, bucket showers were piping hot. The scenery is quite dry at this point of the year, but we have been assured that within a few weeks the arrival of the monsoon will paint the landscape emerald with thriving wheat fields and rejuvenated jungle. Apparently the rains also bring scorpions and cobras – considering we had a scorpion on our front stoop last night, I can honestly say I’ll bear the heat if it means postponing visits from its friends. I figure that the temperatures are a means to make us appreciate this transformation. In other words, we’re earning the impending cool-down day by day.
We’ve spent our time attending orientations with various coodinators of the organization in the past few days, absorbing through exposure the multi-faceted approach SPS takes to grassroots development. Yesterday we were able to attend a participatory action meeting in one of the villages where the tribe drew a resource map of region on the ground with various colored sands. Tomorrow we will be going to one of the Self Help Group (SHG) meetings where tribal women meet to finance inter-group loans. This is one of SPS’ main foci and an alternative approach to microfinance. The rest of their interventions are too extensive to capture within this limited blog entry, but Keena and I will hopefully be choosing our areas of focus by the end of the week. Keena’s background in finance will be aiding SPS’s transition to a private limited company and the accompanying complications of this change in status. I will be documenting the stories of several women who have been positively impacted by SPS’ Right to Food initiative. This work will require daily trips to the field with Jostnya, my colleague, and hopefully a quick sharpening of my Hindi and qualitative research skills.
Overall our reception in Delhi as well as Bagli have been wonderful and we are looking forward to the up and coming weeks where we will immerse ourselves in more specific tasks while simultaneously gaining overarching insights into the institution and its complex network of operations. Along the way we’ll be making new friends, devouring roti, and reapplying the sunscreen under our kameez (I want burnt today in spite of long sleeves!).