Over the years, many of our organizations have developed rather lovely campuses that in the past hosted all sorts of functions that brought together organizations and the communities they served to celebrate and to discuss all sorts of issues from which we could all learn and stay in touch with each other.
As time has passed by, new age technology has taken over, less and less importance is given to face to face contact/interactions, communication between development investors (donors) and development implementers (social organization) has been reduced to a number game (marketing). The result is that now you have a rather cold hearted, impersonal touch as opposed to caring warmth in civil society groups who have preoccupied with keeping open their “Dukans” and working on personal survival rather than promoting the needs of neglected and marginalized people.
Suddenly, the hard work and investment many of us put into developing our campuses into being places that could bring in the corporate and government agencies closer to the rural people so that their lives could develop in a context to their realities, were derailed by the introduction of “fast forward” methodologies that simply left simple people gasping in their inability to understand what was happening. Suddenly, the smart vested interests in society (both organizations and sections of rural society) grabbed everything with both hands and weaker ones were weakened further. The donors who were in a hurry to show results and the implementers who did not have too many scruples in taking “shortcuts” pushed the more sustainable but more thorough models into the background which as a result, left those in the villages who really needed help further into the margins of have-nots.
The age of spending nights in a village, chatting with and encouraging people to understand the changes that were necessary, was replaced by the 9-5 pm social workers who now rush through their prepared texts and formats – not to mention bundles of money of incentives – that actually serve the donors agenda more than those of the people. All of this leaves the voluntary sector as it used to be known at the bottom of the respect ladder.
Let’s do something about this………………. I can think of at least 6-7 voluntary organizations with lovely but almost defunct campuses lying vacant that have the potential to be vibrant once again.
The Himalaya trust (THT) and Society for Motivational Training and Advancement (SMTA) have come together in association on the SMTA campus in Vikasnagar, Dehradun, to start places where schools, colleges, universities, summer study camps, misc. focused groups, etc. (both from India and abroad) can send their groups. Many groups are interested but do not know where to go. “Some of us have done this kind of work in the past and if I can say so – very successfully”. We can raise good resources on our own and break the dependence on the largesse of donor agencies. These revived campuses may be very modest places to start with, but soon they can learn how to go from being sort of home stays into “think-tank” kind of places dotted all over Uttarakhand that allow noble thoughts to come to them from every side – thoughts and activities that can inspire and guide Uttarakhand in the years to come.
Soon, I hope that someone will visit you personally to discuss all of this. But before that, I look forward to a chat on the phone in this regard.
Stay well my friends and in the next 6-8 weeks, let’s get this off the ground.
Cyril r. Raphael (Secretary – The Himalaya Trust) & Dr. Satyendra Srivastava (secretary – SMTA)