In the Tuesday past, SRF Foundation ushered visitors associated with partner School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) through the work that the Foundation has done in the Mewat district of Haryana through both the Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP) and the Mewat Rural Vocational Programme (MRVP). Our group of ten multinational visitors hailed from various countries ranging from Finland and Russia to Czechoslovakia. Experienced professionals currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration with Finland’s Hanken University, they were interested to see how community-based organizations like SRF Foundation have brought improvements to underdeveloped areas in India. It was our pleasure to show the visitors around the field and have them interact with the young volunteers and beneficiaries.
Treasuring the little time we had, the trip began as the transport set off for the hour-long ride to Mewat. All programmes currently under the MREP and the MRVP were succinctly introduced, highlighting especially the overarching model of collaboration that SRF Foundation applies to most programmes. The model of collaboration involves engaging the multiple stakeholders of each programme to ensure that the programme works coherently. Broadly, the categories of stakeholders are the Foundation, the local community, government bodies, other NGOs, and organizations within the private sector. We were also glad to answer questions regarding the funding, time frame and sustainability of SRFF’s initiatives.
The group was greeted by their first breath of summer air as they stepped into Tapkan Government School, where one of the 18 IBM KidSmart centres in Mewat is located. They took the opportunity to snap some shots of the building and the children using Young Explorer units. Just next door to the school stood the Avishkar mobile science van, and staff members led the team through the interior where they stored the laboratory equipment and chemicals needed for a science demonstration. The guests expressed their approval and appreciation for such a novel idea. The trip to the school was evidently a pleasure for both visitors and children as children gathered around the bus cheerfully waving goodbye as the team prepared to leave the school compound.
Again, more questions regarding the children’s background, school hours and challenges faced by SRFF were answered en route to the next stop over – the Udaan Centre, residential program for adolescent girls. Although photography was disallowed, the group was still provided an informative session about the residential education programme. They were exposed to a taste of the Meo-muslim culture as they witnessed the all-girls classrooms of lessons and readings of the Quran.
SRFF also presented the process of the making of low-cost sanitary napkins of the Rahat project. The visitors were impressed with the extent of thought that had gone into ensuring a young project is truly sustainable. The team also noted SRFF’s role of gradually integrating the system such that in time, it can be fully and independently operational by the Mewat locals, and wished the project all the best in its progress.
The final stops were the Teach India centre and the Basic Electrician Training Programme centre, where lessons were ongoing. Asked if they had anything to say to encourage the boys, the team offered the simple but important words of “Hard work will be rewarded”. We spotted nodding heads as the words were translated, and we hope the advice of the older and wiser visitors will stay with the students for life. The visitors commended SRFF on how the MRVP targets youth who are not covered by the MREP, such that they do not fall through the cracks.
The exposure visit ended on that poignant note. As the visitors return to their respective countries, we are glad to know that we have shown them how SRFF carries out its work sustainably and emphasizes engaging numerous parties. We believe their stark transition from the ten degree weather back home into the Indian summer was not in vain.