Field Trip Diaries: Suresh Thiagarajan relives the experienceVisiting rural Mysore to understand the impact of social investing.
Our Rang De field trip started with an orientation video of its field partner Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) comprising of rural community health, welfare and education. The walk-through of projects and schemes that SVYM is engaged with gave us a glimpse of their contribution to the needy. Ms Jayashree and Mr Sudershan took us in a guided tour of Vivekananda Institute for Leadership Development (V-LEAD), the training arm of SVYM. We had an opportunity to witness the Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan, a platform to showcase the science and technology talents of students invited from various part of Karnataka.
Our discussions with Dr Seetharam, Director-SVYM gave further insights into the various engagements of SVYM with the community. After a tasty lunch at the hostel, we participated in the quarterly interaction session of V-LEAD with the artisans, chaired by Dr Seetharam. We witnessed the professionalism of the team in initiating discussions, documenting the details and following up with action items. Each of the artisans was provided with an opportunity to share their results since the last meeting. Few of the artisans shared their fruitful experiences of planning, tracking and measuring the effectiveness within their product realization. Samples of their produces were displayed and the team provided the feedback for further improvement. Artisans were provided with opportunities for further expansion of their operations.
Mr Mahadevswamy presented a live example of an elephant toy with golden painting and nicely decorated with cut glasses. He sought a cost estimate from the group. After the inputs were received, he revealed the actual price to demonstrate that estimate and actual cost need to be as close as possible for a successful product launch. Dr Seetharam explained to the group the concept of ‘value add’ with examples like painting the pottery products or screen printing of bags and also suggested the usage of templates or stencils.
Field support team expressed the difficulty in prototyping paper bags using old newspapers. We shared our experiences in making paper bags using old newspapers and also assured to share a video of how they can be stitched, for usage in provision stores. The interaction meeting was concluded with a vote of thanks.
We had a leisure trip to Sri Chamundeshwari temple in the evening to get ready for the field trip to Rammanahalli the next day. Mr Harishkumar introduced us to the Sri Gopalaswamy SHG (Self Help Group) members and requested them to introduce themselves. The members gave a note of their tailoring, vending business and demonstrated the different passbooks maintained to ensure that the social investments received are distributed, returned and accounted for.
It was heartening to hear from them that they are living comfortably with the support of Rang De, not only managing their livelihood but also educating their children and saving a bit for the future. A couple of members shared their future plans of expansions for themselves as well as for their family members.
We were happy to visit each of the artisan’s houses that were neatly maintained and captured the cheerful moments of children with their pets. We bid farewell to the SHG with best wishes for them. We bought a set of clay products to register the fond memories and ended our field trip with a visit to Mysuru Palace. A memorable field trip for us and it certainly strengthened our bonding with Rang De and our artisans.
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