Monday, June 17, 2013

Final week in Patna

My final week in Patna has been a memorable one. It was spent collecting quanititaive data on the rickshaw pullers under Sammaan, regarding their health, income, education and socio-cultural aspects of their lives. From the knowledge of the staff and the Sammaan database I was able to observe trends regarding the situation with rickshaw pullers over the 5 years since their inception. Additionally, I had formed a survey, along with an intern at Sammaan from Mumbai who is doing similar work here, asking a range of questions pertining to these issues and reached out to as many rickshaws as possible. It was definitely a challenge to get to interview rickshaw pullers as they were not easily available. My greatest privilege however, was conducting a much more detailed interview with one of the on-the-ground managers. His name is Santos and was previously a rickshaw puller who signed on to the Samman program on 10th June, 2007( he recalled the exact date). Using the new resources and opportunities available to him; a savings account, an enhanced rickshaw preferred by passengers, skill training, free healthcare services etc, he eventually worked his way to becoming a manager now in charge of grassroots outreach to new rickshaw pullers and organizing the activities of new entrepreneurs. Who better than a living testimony to reach outh to conventional rickshaw pullers strugling to make a means to live! His story is a perfect example of the lasting impact that signing on to the Sammaan program had on various parts of not only his life but that of his family.

Santos and I

Regardless of the busy schedule, I managed to do a bit of last minute shopping for family back home in Kenya. The weekend was spent saying fairwell to new friends made at church, the guesthouse and of course the Sammaan office. It was emotional and I may have promised some that I'd return so looks like I have some future planning to do! I am very thankful for the hospitality shown by the church members of Patna Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the staff of the Club 10 guesthouse. When I've not been at work, they have kept me entertained and exposed to and interacting with everyday life in Patna. Listening to their own stories were probably where I gained the most, learning from their life experiences in this immensely different and unique nation. Yet I could still take lessons from them and apply them to my own life. We're all human after all.
I am particularly grateful however, for the lessons learnt from working with the Sammaan staff. They are a super busy lot, working sometimes 7 days of the week. I leave them as they currently work with the state government on an innovative ambulance service project in the state of Bihar. They have taken up a number of other development projects and it has been truly inspiring learning how easily change can be manifested through choosing the right partners to work with, being determined and working hard, keeping to set periodic goals. As much as my eyes have been opened to the urging problems that exist in the poorest state of India, the abject poverty seen in various parts of Patna, I've also seen the changemakers; social entrepreneurs, parts of the state government, rickshaw pullers and regular citizens, who are tirelessly fighting to implement solutions to reverse the effects of the issues countless Indians face. They are definitely moving forward. I wish them the best as I now travel to Delhi for a few days of touring, elaborately organized by Azad ( a fimlmaker, scripwriter and brother to the Sammaan founder) who does part-time on and off work with Sammaan. I plan to visit Agra, and Ranthabore National Park in hope of spotting the famous royal tigress of India: Machali.
Forced to be in the pic with these 3 new entrepreneurs earlier last week

Photo with friends from church

Some of the Sammaan staff, most looking at the other camera!

1 comment:

  1. It is the nice post you sharing your expirence of trip to patna , i think I'll also book my Flights from Chennai to Patna