It’s been ten exciting months at CMF for me so far and I feel I have learnt something new everyday. One of the aspects that I like most about my job is the fact that I get to interact and meet so many different kinds of people as part of work and also on the field visits. Each of my interactions/experiences have been ones that I will always remember.
When I joined last December there were 3 Surveyors on our Project and 1 Project Assistant. We spent close to four months piloting before starting our main experiment. We did four Pilots in order to understand how to make things work best for our project. Our Project involves conducting village meetings in all our 60 Study Villages. Initially this proved to be a bit of a challenge. The 5 of us – our 3 Surveyors, Project Assistant and I, would spend a lot of time particularly after our Pilots to see how we could improve things. I will always have very fond memories of us sitting in an empty school in a village after classes were over and discussing things. While we would walk in the villages to administer the surveys, I would literally jump whenever I saw a dog or a monkey and they would always find it amusing and would tell themselves in Kannada – “Madam is so scared of animals”.
I was immensely touched when the first text message I received on my birthday was from them at the stroke of 12. Their calls as well in the morning kept me smiling the whole day.
Another thing I enjoy the most about my field visits are the children I get to meet when I’m there. Most of our meetings happen in schools. After the meeting and reviewing things with my team, there are usually a bunch of children all excited to know what was happening in some empty classrooms in their school. They are always fascinated to know what has been going on and most of them call me “Miss”. One or two of them would come up shyly and ask me what my name is and then all of them would giggle! They keep asking if I’m a teacher who has come to teach in their school. One little boy told me I can come and teach them English to which I replied he could also perhaps teach me Kannada. He laughed and so did the others around. Another time I was practically sneezing the whole time, I came out of the classroom after a meeting and saw one of the cutest babies I have ever seen. His name was Rehan and his face looked moon shaped.
A lot of people I interact with are bank managers. As a part of our Project we open No Frill Bank Accounts / Post Office Accounts for people who don’t have one. Visiting these small banks and interacting with these people has taught me a lot. It has also opened my eyes to the fact that that there is still much more that has to be done in the area of Financial Inclusion in our country. While some banks are very cooperative, the others are more difficult to approach. I have also come across a few instances of women who ask for help in filling up forms in the banks not knowing how to go about things. The Post Offices are small and the Post Master and Post Man have usually been very friendly. They also know their customers very well and always seem happy to talk and share information.
It feels nice that today we have completed Mini Baselines and Village Meetings in all our 60 Villages with a field staff of close to 45 people. There is a lot one experiences while travelling and interacting with people. Development as a subject fascinates me and the field experience over these months has exposed me to a lot of realities on the ground.A lot of these instances have made me look at my life more closely and introspect more. I have learnt how a lot of people can be happy with so little, how generous many of our villagers are in offering us something to eat or drink when we visit and how little children have so much fun playing with the simplest of things. It is these little incidents which will always hold a special place in my heart.