There is an urgent need to create mechanisms to empower widows in Yavatmal and Vidarbha, and give them the support they need to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, such initiatives are rare. One of the few such projects for the welfare of the helpless women is run by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and its sister organization Sampada Trust.
Ajay Shelke completed 19 years of service with WOTR in July 2018. He is currently Manager at WOTR’s Pune office. Read on to know his story and vision for the future, for himself and the organisation.
‘I was born in 1972 in the town of Ahmednagar. I did my entire schooling in Marathi medium till Class X, before joining New Arts, Science and Commerce College for Bachelors in Computer Science in 1990. Though computer science was a very nascent profession at that time, there was a certain glamour associated with it already. I would hear from my friends and well-wishers that this was a profession which had a lot of scope in the future so I chose it. At that point in time, the computer programming languages were Dbase and Foxpro; the current generation may not even have heard of them. After graduating in 1993, I worked as a computer programmer briefly in Ahmednagar. It was in July 1999, that I joined WOTR as a computer programmer after doing my Masters in Computer Management. My brother Kiran Shelke was already a part of WOTR, and I was aware what WOTR was doing for soil and water conservation with the communities.
Over the last 19 years in WOTR, I have been a part and parcel of various technology interventions in WOTR. It is a matter of pride that WOTR, as an NGO, has always been at the forefront of adopting and encouraging the usage of technology. From the beginning, we used software to increase efficiency in our work, in applications like Muster Software or in Participatory Net Planning.. We were one of the first organisations among the NGOs in Ahmednagar to have an email id, even as far back as 1994. Even today, we continue to use the latest technology to add value to peoples’ lives. One such example is that we are currently at work on an automization of locale and farm-specific weather based agro advisory generation system, which is currently being used by IMD.
In today’s era, there are path-breaking new technologies like Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning. My vision for the future is that WOTR must leverage these technologies for the benefit of the masses. I still remember Father Bacher would always tell me ‘Whatever technology you adopt, it must benefit communities’. At a personal level, I have thoroughly enjoyed contributing to technology interventions in WOTR, and have seen first-hand how these interventions have promoted resilience. I hope to continue making this contribution, in whatever way I can. It has been a great learning experience to work with WOTR.’