It is a joy working with tribal communities and I learn a lot from them about life

DSC00565Shikha Singh

I am a PMRD Fellow posted in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. I am basically from Lucknow; and my educational background is Master in Business Administration in Finance from Lucknow University. Earlier I worked as a Relationship Manager for sometime in HDFC Bank but I did not find satisfaction there and then I joined PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action). I was posted in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh. There I understood the grassroot realities of poverty, development paradigm, government schemes and community. I was working on livelihood promotion through sustainable agriculture and SHGs program. I found extreme satisfaction when people said that they are happy to come together on a platform and talking about the well being issues of the village. After spending 1.7 years in PRADAN, I got the opportunity to work as a PMRDF and to be inside the system and working with the Government. I was not sure about the profile of  this fellowship, but was sure that it will be a great opportunity to learn the policies, aspiration  behind making of policies and a broader prospective of the governance, development practice in various different contexts. Many a times I blamed government system that it is not working, that they don’t have people centric approach etc. But now I am having opportunity to work in the system and to understand the know-how of the system.

Sukma district is a part of Bastar region. Whole Bastar region is a different and unique place. In Sukma 5-6 tribes (Dorla, Bhatra, Muria, Dhurwas etc.) are residing in the same village across different hamlets. It was a challenge when I found women from three different tribes in a meeting with three different dialects and I had to communicate with all of them. I hear comments from people that tribals are slow, they drink liquor, they are illiterate and have no manner of living life. But working with these communities, I am learning a lot about their limited needs, being happy in hard conditions , nature friendly attitude and activities. It is a great feeling that my small interventions bring smiles on their faces. Presently   I am engaged in ”Aarohan: Ek Abhinav Prayas ” which is an initiative to improve science education among higher secondary students as the district is facing an acute crunch of science teachers. Through this initiative all the science students of 11th and 12th standard are residing in a place and specially hired science teachers are teaching them.

Apart from this I am closely working with WCDS department. In this I am working on nutrition part which is a big issue of the district. We are focusing on the district level ”vajan tyohar” and after knowing the exact data we will focus on the reduction of malnutrition.  Due to tough geography of the district commuting is a problem for many areas. So we are organizing a team to go collectively. In infrastructure part we are focusing on 117 Anganwadi Centres where we will provide all the facilities which a centre should have and would also focus on pre-school education for the 3-6 year old children. I am engaged in MGNEGA and IAY too.

Lastly, I want to say that I am completely satisfied with my job. I belong from a society where being a rural development professional or working in villages is considered as bad as being unemployed or at best a time passing job. When I joined this fellowship, people generally asked me, ”why are you not applying for a permanent secure job?” My answer is only that I am not working with the non living objects! I am working with the human beings and I learn a lot from the tribal communities about life. Sometime I feel that I am living myself with these communities and the learning which I am getting are rewards themselves.

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