On May 1, 2020, WOTR brought together a diverse range of stakeholders including policy makers, government officials, researchers, corporate donor representatives, and development practitioners for a half-day virtual workshop in order to reach a consensus on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) for building resilience to COVID-19 in rural Maharashtra.
Gyanprakash Berwal is currently a project manager at our Regional Resource Centre in Udaipur, Rajasthan. He has been with WOTR since 2009. He shares his story in our 'WOTRian of the month'.
“I was born in 1978 in the small village of Nehro Ki Dhani in Nawalgarh block of the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. Though I am based in Udaipur, my family, that includes my mother, brother, sister in law and three nephews, still lives in my village together. I have completed my education in two phases. In the first phase, after completion of my 12 standard examination in 1995, I started doing odd jobs and working on daily wages. It was very difficult for my parents to provide me college education due to our precarious economic condition. In 1996 I got the work of teaching school drop outs at Morarka Foundation, Nawalgarh. Later I worked with the same organisation as an agriculture supervisor for two years. I also worked in the Women and Child Development Department’s, Rajasthan programme in Navalgarh, Jhunjhunu as a trainer for Anganwadi workers. In 2002, I joined Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, Udaipur as an assistant agriculture coordinator where I worked on vermicomposting, NADEP method of making compost, nursery, watershed development etc. Here, in my second phase of education, I completed my Masters in Sociology from the Mohanlal Sukhadia University Udaipur as an external student. The first time, I met Prakash sir (Prakash Keskar) and Hemant sir (Hemant Pinjan) was in 2007 in Udaipur when they had come to select partner NGOs for the project which was about to begin in Rajasthan. In 2008, I met Hemant sir in Udaipur to discuss the opportunities in WOTR and expressed my desire to work with WOTR as I was looking for a more challengingand more rewarding position. Soon I was called for the interview at WOTR office at Ahmednagar for the interview. I formally joined WOTR in 2009 as a ‘Social Consultant’.
My journey with WOTR has been enriched with many experiences, which I haven’t got earlier especially in the field of watershed development. Things have changed at every level, be it at village level or at the RRCs.
When it comes to challenges, I believe the challenges we are facing today could be a precursor to difficult times ahead because in this sector, there are shortage of funding agencies who are willing support us for a substantial period of time. The other challenge is to deal with a changing scenario at village level due to social and political developments. There is a paucity of skilled workforce.
If I talk about myself, I find both positive and negative points. The negative points I find about myself are, I am not very proficient in English. This sometimes makes me rely on others for communication, that unnecessarily delays my work. The other thing is I am too emotional as a person and get hurt easily. On a positive note, I try to avoid being too friendly with anyone or become hostile to anyone.
There are many experiences worth mentioning, after being in this sector for so long. I have seen transformation of the fortune of families in villages due to our Soil and Water conservation measures. The drudgery of women who had to go far to fetch water has reduced.
My vision in life is to serve others without any selfish ulterior motives and to help my family members become self-sufficient. I consider myself lucky that I have got and get diverse experiences and knowledge from this sector, which I feel is difficult to get in other sectors. In that sense, I am still trying to evolve as a human being.
In the end, I am looking forward to the future positively. I want to be relevant and live with dignity. At a personal level, I want to make my family self-sufficient as I believe one has to live one’s life with self-respect. One should work with honesty and transparency, to contribute for the progress of the organisation and oneself. As they say, ‘मेहनत इतनी खामोशी से करो की, कामयाबी शोर मचा दे’ (If you are focused on doing hard work, success will take care of itself.). My parting message is that one should always strive to work in such a manner that you will be known for the work you have done.”