It was my 5th year in the software industry and I was doing pretty well there. I was leading a team of 20 some people and had been offered promotion and positions in South Africa and US with fat cheques. That was the time when I met some of the most wonderful people and read some amazing books. One such person and a book changed everything for me. I was pushed towards the dream of working close to the people. I redrew my life map, turned down all what I had aspired for till a few months back and decided to pursue my dream.
And as Paulo Coelho writes in the Alchemist (SRK copies in OSO), I felt that the whole world was conspiring to help me fulfil what I wished for. A series of events followed my decision and every such event made my conviction stronger. It was one such moment when something touched me intensely; I saw a kid of age, when I thought a toy tractor is a better buy than my brother’s remote operated car as it was big, of age, when my nephew thought 1 rupee coin is more precious than 100 rupee note because he bought candies with coins but didn’t know notes can buy more , of age, many of us cuddle in our mother’s lap and just wonder how beautiful this world is! He was sipping a 3 rupee tea sitting next to his shoe polish kit and counting the money he had earned. I am sure he had never gone to a school but the zeal to survive must have taught him what denomination notes and how many coins were enough to survive for one more day. The innocence of that kid’s face was not at all marred by his dirty clothes and grimy face, I couldn’t help but to stand a few feet away from him and notice the beauty and feel the pain. I wanted to talk to him, but couldn’t gather the courage, my eyes were wet, and I was feeling so helpless that I left the place. I went back there again and again in hope that I will see him one day but never saw him back. Not that I saw a kid working for the first time but there are few moments which touch you in a way that you cannot forget them for the rest of your life.
This was the time when I got to know about two very renowned fellowships (PMRDF and Azim Premji Fellowship) and luckily made to both. I decided to join PMRDF as it offered a broader dimension. The training of PMRDF started on 10th July (My BDay) and so I call it the renaissanceJ.
Its 11 months in PMRDF (10 months in my district Munger) and I find it a great learning. I am gaining first hand experiences of so many things ranging from system, education, people, society, collective psychology and what not. It is not a smooth run, but did I opt for a smooth run? No, so I don’t complain much (yes, I do once in a whileJ)
We searched land for schools and Anganwadis, got involved in Rural Development schemes, took up livelihood initiatives, tried our hands in planning, and trying to get involved in every activity which touches rural lives. We are using our learning to improve the processes and using technology to improve service delivery.
To sum up, it’s worth every moment spent out here and I cherish it, and yes I am proud to be a PMRDF. Good Luck! J
P.S: Never say you want to do something for your country, people will laugh at you. Better do it!
Ankush Singh is based at Munger (Bihar). He is a B. Tech. (Electronics & Communication) from UP Technical University. Ankush joined PMRDF with more than 5 years’ experience in the field of software making.