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.
‘Though born in Ujjain, in Madhya Pradesh, I grew up in different towns of Rajasthan like Kota, Rawatbhata (near India’s first nuclear power plant) and the small town of Pratapgrarh. Growing up in a state where acute water scarcity was an ever present problem, it made me aware of the problems faced by the rural communities due to lack of water. This kindled in me, at a young age, the desire to do something later in my life for such communities. I was not interested in Biology or science subjects, but family pressure however forced me to take up Biology in Bsc. My experience taught me that I could not make a career in it. My first love then and now was literature; I wrote poems and writings of different kinds in Hindi, and presented them before audiences. My stage fear gradually reduced and I became famous in my college for my Hindi poems and oratory. In fact, my popularity ensured that I was easily elected as secretary of the student council.
In 2001, I completed my Bsc and firmly decided that I wanted to work in the rural development sector. One of my seniors was studying in the Indore School of Social Work, and encouraged me to join. I got a job offer to do training at a prominent Indore-based NGO, but Sandeep Agarwal, of my friends told me not take it and instead look for something more challenging and meaningful. It occurred to me that I should join Anna Hazare, and work with him as I had heard a lot about his work. I phoned his office several times before they finally called me to the office. But when I went to Ralegaon Siddhi, he recommended me to work with an organisation called Watershed Organisation Trust. He gave me the contact of the Darewadi Training Centre and urged me to work with WOTR and gain some knowledge about rural development first. When I phoned DTC, Marcella D’Souza picked up the phone as she was visiting that day. She asked me to apply formally and I was selected. Since 2004, I have been working in WOTR. In 2007, I have been in WOTR Madhya Pradesh.
In an era where people change jobs quickly, it is creditable that so many like I have worked for years with WOTR. I feel that the atmosphere WOTR gives you; the scope to learn new things every day and expand your horizons is a major factor for this. I myself have worked on subjects like Institution building, Training , village envisioning, watershed development, climate change, Adaptation Planning, Tool development ,disaster risk reduction, preparation of IECs material and learned a lot in the process.
When it comes to Climate Change, a major challenge is to translate concepts like vulnerability, Adaption and Disaster Risk Reduction into language which villagers would understand. It is considered inauspicious by many villagers to even talk of these issues. Any tool or framework is truly useful only when villagers understand ‘why’ that tool has been created and how it benefits them. My vision for WOTR is that it must do much more in local-level communication tool development and contribute to policy advocacy. For myself, I wish to write in Hindi WOTR related material that is currently only in English or yet to availed for north Indian audiences. We need to translate, in as many Indian languages as possible, the work that we do as an organisation. It needs to be done on a mission mode. The policy briefs and research papers should reach the common man, and I would like to contribute to it. This is my dream’