Monday, 29 July 2013

The countdown has started... 10 days to go...

It's only 10 days now until we head off to India and it's all starting to feel very "real" now... The flights are booked, the vaccinations completed, our visas are sorted and I've started to wonder how I will fit everything into the suitcase... (and top tips from anyone on how to squeeze 4 weeks of packing into a 15kg bag are highly appreciated... ;-)

We have had some initial calls with the teams in India already (and got an idea of how reliable the phone lines are likely to be...) and are also busy sending some more information about us to the team prior to actually meeting them in 2 weeks time. Here's a little video from our team to our colleagues from the Essar foundation (please don't laugh:-)

Also, we are all busy blogging about the programme, so if you want to have a look at what the others who will join me in Jamnagar are saying, have a look here:

Elyse and her blog:

Gica & his blog:


This is Keith enjoying a cuppa- look here for his blog:

Malcolm and his blog:

And last, but not least, click here for Peter's blog:

The next update will be very shortly before I leave (or even after I've arrived in India) - can't wait to actually get to India after almost 3 months of preparation now.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The projects have been announced - soooo excited!

Last week we heard about the projects we'll be working on and now I'm even more excited about going to Jamnagar!

The ten of us will be working in three teams with local communities and enterprises on the following challenges:

"Going native":
Malcolm, Claudia and Anton will work with SAVA (Saurasha Voluntary Actions) to develop a management systems & business plan for the Farmers-Producers Organization at Jamnagar. The idea is to spread the spirit of volunteering among the people of Saurashtra and ultimately achieve sustainable rural development through the management of natural resources, increased access and supervision to public resources, and mobilising private resources for the common good. SAVA have asked for recommendations for accounting and financial, organizational structure, personnel and HR, information and reporting processes for a producers company having ca. 3500 shareholders and  (Rs. 75,00,000) annual turnover as well as helping with a business plan for the company which deals in input supply, trade, processing, storage, and educational activities. SAVA's first attemt to help farmers with the challenges faced have failed due to problems with the business partner selected - so no pressure now for us...  

"Happy children":
Keith, Emily and Peter have been asked to develop a five year strategy plan to expand and develop up to 60 “Happy Children Center” for deprived slum children in Jamnagar city. The Chaitanya Charitable Trust (CCT) already runs three "Happy Children Centres" to encourage deprived children such as child labourers, rag pickers, and children who had to drop out of school to take up and stay in education e.g. through access to libraries, games, access to technology and extracuricular activities. The Charity's growth plan is to establish a total of 60 centres by 2016 which would benefit up to 3,000 children! As part of this, the CCT have asked our team to review its current marketing, branding and messaging techniques and strategies and make recommendations for increasing funding. They'd also like us to review the Happy Children Centre programme and make recommendations to improve the design and offerings to deliver on their growth targets.

"Better English":
Working with the Essar Group Foundation, Elyse, Gica, Paula, Katrin and I will work on improving the quality of English Language Teaching in Government Schools in and around Jamnagar. As part of its corporate social responsibilty programme, the Essar Foundation has taken a keen interest in improving the quality of teaching and learning of English as this increases people's changes for employment and supplies them with a highly valueable skill in a globalised world. To help with this, we've been asked to
  • assess current challenges and make recommendations on how the quality of English education in government schools can be improved, 
  • come up with creative ideas on how we can leverage the Essar foundation volunteer programmes to help improve English education for students and 
  • design an education fair in 2014 which will focus on Englisch language teaching and learning. 
Our partners from the Essar foundation are clearly much better versed in digital technology than I am and have even produced a little introductory video for us!

So here is a sneak preview of the Jamnagar Essar CSR team, Awadhesh, Deependra and Diti:

I'm sure there'll be more pictures from them once we meet in Jamnagar - but for now it's over to me to try and create a little video to introduce myself to them... Any creative ideas on this are of course highly welcome!

Watch this space for more updates on the projects and the final preparations prior to our Jamnagar experience in August!