After a long morning learning about Development Alternatives and touring the TARAgram campus, we had a chance to see some examples of what DA was actually doing in the field. Our stomachs full from another satisfactory lunch, we ventured out to the city of Orchha for the afternoon and evening.
The first site we visited showed one of the ways in which Development Alternatives is working towards generating income and empowering women. The site's main purpose is to provide a demonstration center for self-help groups looking for new enterprises. These self-help groups, promoted heavily by DA, are typically for women that desire a larger impact in the betterment of their community. Each group consists of about 10-20 women who slowly raise funds in the hope to push the community towards new enterprises. The demonstration center provides a central place for these groups to explore various new enterprises. Granite, wheat, and spice processors, as well as oil extractors, are all offered as various options. The entire demonstration site is run on biogas, which is created from the enormous amounts of cow dung present on the site.
We then took a trip to the village of Madore to observe some of the impacts that Development Alternatives has had on this specific community. Previously, the village's main income source was forestry. But due to depletion of resources, the village was forced to look at other options. DA came into the picture, observed the communities needs, and suggested the village begin farming chickens, which helped prevent economic turmoil. DA also helped the villagers gain better living conditions. They provided a housing program to the villagers in which loans would be given for up to half the cost of a house. This was also a good example of many of DA's building materials, such as shingles, being put to use. DA is also helping organize self-help groups in the village in the hopes that the community will soon find more sources of income for the future.
It was great to see some of what we learned about Development Alternatives in action.
We finally got a break from our long day of learning, discussing, and observing with a trip to the Jehangir Fort for a light and sound show. The show gave an engaging history of the Bundelha kings and highlighted the magnificent architecture of the palaces. After the show, we took a quick stroll to a nearby Hindu temple. Amidst the people praying, we were able to make our way through the colorfully tiled temple and observe the many shrines.
The night came to an end with another fantastic buffet style meal, this time at a restaurant that many of us deemed too fancy to eat with our hands. The meal served as a good way to unwind from the eventful day.
- Rob Wietecha