In my recent visit to Uttar Pradesh, I travelled about 250kms to reach a small village called Beelpur. Looking out of the car’s window, I stared at a horizon marred with parched lands, thirsty cattle and browbeaten farmers. My mind began to wander around the intensity with which lives have been devastated and how the presence or absence of natural resources impacts those from the agrarian sector.
As part of our response to humanitarian situations in the subcontinent, we began to work towards drought mitigation programmes, one of which was supporting 10 villages in Bundelkhand that have witnessed severe drought for the last eight years.
It’s a big responsibility on one’s shoulders when someone places their faith and trust in one’s knowledge and expertise. For us at the Foundation, our move towards conserving water through integrated water resource management systems in the communities was something we were pushing for in the villages where our interventions lie.
During the beneficiary meet held on 13 May, I was amazed at the level of acceptance the villagers had around these water conservation mechanisms, which in turn had given their community status a boost. Reaching the venue, I found that a simple traditional gesture such as ‘Haldi theekha with water and sugar’ definitely helps build a bond between the people and you.
Farmers had travelled from nine villages in the scorching heat to meet and share their testimonies with us, speaking volumes about the benefits they’d derived from our interventions that helped them get their lives back on track.
Fifty-five year old Saddique shared his joyful story around his ability to harvest wheat, masoor and chana after several years of drought, all thanks to the seeds given to him, at no cost, by the Seeds Bank. He was able to sell his grains for INR 32,000/- and return the seeds he’d received so that other struggling farmers could take advantage of the Seed Bank.
That feeling inside while hearing these witnesses share their powerful journeys of survival is difficult to articulate. It was humbling to listen and see them showcase their seeds as well as explain new farming and water conservation techniques they’d been trained in.
Saying goodbye to Uttar Pradesh, my next stop was Bangalore where I spent time with people from the waste picking community where we are involved. Visiting the two dry waste collection centers, I observed the difference and the impact these projects are creating on their lives and was thrilled to experience such positivity and empowerment.
We want to bring about a sea of change through our environmental projects and aim to go beyond doing the right thing to catalysing change.
I’m happy to share that this is a gradual process keeping in mind long-term solutions. The smile on people’s faces and their kind gestures during site visits are a result of the trust and support that PwC has given us. For that I am grateful.
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