Sunday, June 14, 2009

The first weekend: Meeting w/ Parivartan, AID Mumbai and Manjul (our mentor)

June 13 & June 14, 2009- Day 4 & 5 (Sat & Sun)

Today was the first time that all 4 of us met with Manjul as a group. He gave us a quick synopsis of what ETF has done, what it represents and what our focus would be as a team. Although it was a brief meeting and there’s a lot more to understand, my initial impression of him was incredible. He works with a level of energy and confidence that’s so easily transferable. far so good..will build a more concrete opinion as I get to know him better.
I have built a whole new level of faith in what we're doing today. I'm not going to lie; I had 1000 concerns and didn't really have complete confidence in our result. Today, that changed. Apart from having complete faith in our guide, the 3 hours training opened my eyes to the simplicity of the situation. The phrase of “learning through experience and exposure” stuck with me.
Its absolutely incredible how perspectives change when you’re organizing something and when you’re actually working at the ground level. I always knew what our purpose was as Revive: Mumbai and our concepts were clear when we planned the program. However, I completely underestimated the impact theater can have on these children and on that society. It’s extremely hard to feel a part of the community that I have been a passive observer of for years.
Yesterday had a 2 hour meeting with AID Mumbai and Parivartan. The meeting was supposed to have an agenda, but it turns out that the main focus was just the Revive: Mumbai summer program. I was surprised to see that they didn't even try to tackle the many issues they have at hand. AID, maybe rightfully, mentioned that fundraising was the toughest (yet most important) task at hand and they had lost a lot of hope for this year. They didn’t have enough volunteers and motivation. There are 3 people in AID Mumbai and they don't really have any projects other than Parivartan. So they basically only meet only when they come for the bi-weekly Parivartan meetings. They said that funding was such a huge issue that even starting the school for the year is going to be a challenge! Parivartan had 3 centers last year but this year they only have 2 because of the limited funds.
Also, we finally met Shakil who is the founder of Parivartan. Unlike his wife, he didn't speak English but he seemed like a very calm and intelligent observer. He didn't speak as much but replied to all the questions asked. It was really nice to finally put a face to the person I’ve heard a lot about in the past. Although his main focus has been education, his wife and he have been spending years trying to tackle the peripheral issues like hygiene and water shortage problems.

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