Saturday, June 4, 2011

Around Jharkhand in 20 days

The last couple of weeks have been pretty manic. I've been all over Jharkhand, visiting different field offices as we do a review of all of our projects. It's pretty amazing the range of projects that Srijan gets involved in, mainly because their focus is on community mobilisation, not on particular sections of society. I thought I'd try to give everyone a feel for the work we do.....

Polio in Pakur
First stop was Pakur. This is right out in the East of Jharkhand. It's a fair old trek – 10-12hr drive. On roads that make you feel like Tigger by the end of it! I was told to expect scorching temperatures (45C+), but we got lucky and they were mid-to-high 30s – possibly even lower than Hazaribag!

This is a major new project for Srijan. In more ways than one. Firstly, the sheer importance of the work. It's the fight against Polio. I would imagine most people reading this, like me, are completely ignorant about Polio. For good reason – there are only four countries in the world where Polio is still in the wild. India is one. The Indian government has made it their mission to eliminate this disease and it's getting close.

In Pakur last year, there were eight cases of Polio. The aim for this year is obviously for none. The strategy – immunisation of all children under 5. It's a huge campaign. Every month there are “Pulse Polio” rounds for the next ten months. Added to that is a weekly “routine immunisation” campaign.

Srijan is responsible for half of the 10 grids in Pakur. Which brings me to the second reason for the importance of this project. It's being run by UNICEF. Obviously the recognition to be gained from a successful project with UNICEF is huge for Srijan.

The project is just starting, with a completely new team, so we were visiting to ensure things were going to plan. We've also just started doing Objective Setting for every Srijan employee, as well as documenting their Roles and Responsibilities, so both of those tasks needed to be completed.

The Core Group
After a few days it was back to Ranchi, the state capital. We have started a new initiative in Srijan – the creation of a Core Group. This is a team of three employees who we feel have the attitude and behaviours that make them stand out from their colleagues. They will hopefully be taking over more of the day-to-day running of the organisation over the next 6 months, allowing the current Senior Management team (basically, the founders of Srijan) to step away from the coal-face.

So we had the kick-off meeting for the Core Group, which was pretty successful. If nothing else, it creates a method for rewarding better work within the organisation, even if it takes longer than Srijan would like to get to a position where they are helping to run the organisation.

We've also started an “Employee of the Month” award. Sounds corny, right? But I knew from my IBM work in India that it works out here. First recipient – a woman who brought 20 participants out of a total of 28 to a group session. Next session? One of her colleagues brought 36! I think that counts as a success!!!

Back to Hazaribag
The tour continued with a short stay back in Hazaribag, doing Objective Setting for the teams there. Our projects in the area include improving farming irrigation techniques, improving girls education opportunities and the rights of the disabled.

Sex Workers in Gumla and Khelari
Back to Ranchi again, which was our base for two day trips to Gumla and Khelari. These are towns in the West of Jharkhand. They're mining towns. Mining attracts migrant workers. Migrant workers attract sex workers, which makes these communities high-risk for AIDs.

Srijan are doing a “Targeted Intervention” in these two towns, educating the sex workers on the importance of protection, providing medical check-ups etc and educating the local communities on some of the myths that prevail about the disease. More project reviews and Objective Setting here then back to Ranchi.

Late night viewing
Getting back to Ranchi on the 28th meant that I was able to stay up and watch the Champions League Final. It's not often that you enjoy watching your team get thoroughly thumped, but I did. Barcelona were mesmerising. That's all I'll be saying about it though. It still hurts....

Back to Pakur
After a “day off” sitting in the office in Ranchi, I travelled on Monday back to Pakur, where I've now been for almost a week. It's important that we get the right processes in place early on this project, so I'm helping the Project Manager here to ensure he's got everything considered, as well as being the eyes and ears for the management team.

Health Services in Hiranpur
We've got another project nearby, so I went on a field visit there yesterday. This project is to encourage the use of the health services provided by the Government. Some of you may have seen a recent report by the World Bank on Public Services provided in India.....there are a lot of good schemes here in India, but one of the biggest problems is that people don't know about them. The CHIN-Change project is seeking to address that, by educating people about their rights to Government services.

I'm going to be in Pakur until Wednesday, then it's an overnight train back to Ranchi, then.....? Maybe back to Hazaribag, who knows! This is basically three weeks without a day off now – this volunteering lark isn't all holidays to Nepal :-) I'm trying to convince some of the guys here to go to the cinema tomorrow night though, could be amusing....not sure my Hindi is good enough yet, but it's all about the experience, right?!?

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