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.
Harish Daware is currently a Deputy General Manager in WOTR, working at the Ahmednagar office. He has been working in WOTR since 1996, joining straight after graduating from the Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth Parbhani (VNMKV). He reflects on his memorable and continuing journey with WOTR, from a Trainee Engineer to a DGM.
“I was born in 1975 in a village in the Parbhani district of Maharashtra. Parbhani, then and even now though perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, is a district where the vast majority of people depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood. Though my childhood was spent largely in the town of Parbhani, I always had a strong attraction to the rural areas of our country. I had relatives in cities like Aurangabad, Pune and Mumbai but my own interest always lay in the villages of Maharashtra. I loved swimming in the ponds and waterbodies of our village. My father wanted me to become a teacher, but life as always had other plans.’ I conduct training programmes for villagers now, so perhaps in one way I have indeed become a teacher.
Along with agriculture, I had an abiding interest in Marathi dramas and stage productions and took part in them enthusiastically.’
Later, my own interest in agriculture led me to become an agricultural engineer, graduating from the VNMKV in Parbhani. The fees were also low and it was convenient as my home was in Parbhani. In those days, engineering colleges were few; and concentrated in major cities. It helped that my family wanted that I should stay close to home, and not go anywhere else for education.
In my final year, the concept of campus interviews came into vogue. The Watershed Organisation Trust had come to the VNKMV for interviews; I was immediately interested in it once I came to know about the work the organisation does. There were 2 rounds: first at the college and then later at Ahmednagar. I was not nervous during the interview as it was an area close to my heart. WOTR Managing Trustee and co-founder Crispino Lobo took the second round, and his confident personality and articulate, decisive manner of speaking made a strong impression on me. So I joined without any hesitation as I felt a strong connect between my interests and the watershed development/rural development work of WOTR. I did not feel very interested in doing a regular job in agriculture marketing or join the Government of Maharashtra, the two main options at that time for an Agri Engineer. I joined as a Trainee Engineer.’
From being a Trainee Engineer, to becoming now a DGM, it has been a long journey, full of many ups and downs. However, I have never felt bored as my duties have been continuously changing and WOTR as an organisation has kept growing and expanding. So the nature of challenges and the work I do have changed and even today keeps changing. I have changed considerably for the better as a person, after joining WOTR, as the values of an organisation get internalized in its employees over time. Working in WOTR has been a wonderful experience; even my former colleagues, who joined other places, miss their days here. After my BE, I have also done an MBA in HR from the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, thus continuing my education.
I have had countless memorable experiences in WOTR, which will always stay with me. I vividly remember breaking my leg in the first year of WOTR’s work and the whole WOTR staff coming to see me when I was convalescing. Starting the new office in Madhya Pradesh in very challenging circumstances is another fond memory. Especially working closely with inspirations like Father Hermann Bacher, Crispino Lobo and Marcella D’Souza.
‘Of course, with these good points there are some things we need to look at. When we take up any new initiative, we also should try to ensure its continuity. We must also work to help villagers sustain the work we do, even after a project ends. We also have to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. In the next 25 years, things will change far more rapidly than in the last 25 years. The signs of this are already visible. For an organisation like WOTR, we need to reflect on how best to cope with these rapid changes. The options for young people have grown tremendously; so attracting committed, dedicated young people to this sector is also very important. We need to strategize along those lines.
My advice to young people who want to join this sector is that they should enjoy their work, and not just see it as a job or a career. A person should be happy in his work if he wants to be happy in his life. This is something I firmly believe in. My vision for myself is to always keep doing my best and giving my best to everything that I do for WOTR. My vision for WOTR is to continue evolving, while at the same time remaining committed to its values, and the people that we were set up to serve’.