It is safe to say that when one is working in the development sector, it is imperative to be able to face challenges. Many times, even in my journey I have almost lost hope and resources and thought “Ab Bas”, I cannot do more than this! During moments like these, keeping yourself motivated is crucial. Although there are many ways to induce this motivation, the few specific tips have worked well for me.
I’d like to reflect on an anecdote - In 2017, after setting up Anubhuti Social Empowerment and Educational Foundation, our team almost lost hope to receive funding or orders. The entire core team was quite worried about handling such a situation. We also did not want to discuss this with our community which is part of the organization. However, we ended up discussing this with the entire organization where even the beneficiaries were involved. We presented the entire financial situation to all the stakeholders and to my surprise, every stakeholder provided innovative solutions. A few of them even proposed to reduce salaries. This incidence gave me so much motivation and I realised that sharing and discussing with the individuals involved helps run social enterprises.
A philosophy that has been the backbone of my goals - Every day is a learning day. Working in development, I firmly believe that qualitative change is more important than quantitative outcomes. While working in the Akshara program we reached out to more than 3000 students and touched their lives. However, there are a few incidents I can never forget which refined my perception. Ashwini who hails from Asade village and joined the program when she was in 10th, was selected to study at UWC followed by Luther College for her graduation. At present, she is working with Deloitte Haskins and Sells, India. Her transformation from then to now still fascinates me.
One day she came to me and told that “you taught me to live like a human not like a woman." She shared this with me when I was struggling to prove how beneficial Akshra is for girl students in the valley. At that moment I felt satisfied in my job, the simple message gave me the energy to prove the program. So, looking for qualitative changes is crucial for fulfilment!
My mentor taught me to never expect any impact in one lifetime because one is only sowing the seeds. It takes generations to bare fruits! This piece of advice really helps me to look forward and I completely agree with it. Working in the field of education or empowerment, one must consistently make attempts. It is extremely difficult to put a timeline on the incubation period. At Anubhuti we have a young master trainer from Bihar, his name is Ehssan Ansari. His family is very conservative - women are generally not allowed to go out. He is excellent at his work and puts continuous efforts to teach women. When he joined our organization he was 22 years and unmarried. However, his learning curve has only been upwards! At Anubhuti, we keep organizing different workshops on different topics in which Ehsaan regularly participates. We discuss diverse subjects from women's issues to financial literacy. Ehsaan got married to a girl from his community from Bihar. To my delightful surprise, his wife has never used a veil and she even wears western outfits! He told me that after joining Anubhuti, he learned so much about women and that he would never put restrictions on his wife. I learned that one never knows the power and implications of consistent effort - so believe in what you do keeps you going!
Lastly, it is crucial to understand that one cannot be motivated out of compulsion. All communities/beneficiaries have lived and will continue to live with or without your intervention.
Hence, you are with them for yourself and not just for them. This learning has made me realize that this is my need, not theirs - it is me who is the beneficiary and not them. Therefore, respecting their culture, ideas, values must be integrated into your program. I hope my anecdotes and learning give some insights to you and let us continue striving to be better with each passing day!