August 01, 2012
Just got back from spending nearly a month with our wonderful friends at Deep Jyoti. We have been working on assisting their program while trying to develop our own (HPP). HPP focuses on building sustainable toilets that generate electricity from human waste. This electricity is sold to villagers in the form of rechargable 12-Volt batteries. Money from these sales is used to maintain our toilets and will eventually be used to build new toilets.
I am no stranger to Bihar. But I certainly am no expert. This was exemplified by the various obstacles we encountered during our stay there this time around.
I've been told that I am a natural leader, something I take a lot of pride in. But working in tough conditions so far from home is extremely challenging. Especially when everyone in your group is so brilliant and when everyone is offering up great ideas and suggestions. The difficulty is that not everyone can be right. And so managing decisions sometimes becomes difficult. This trip we wanted to dedicate to buying land for our toilets. My two HPP colleagues, Art and Alec, had never been to Bihar before and were trying as hard as they could to get up to speed with how things works there. They did an incredible job, but there were certainly moments of tension. Balancing what you know intuitively with what you don't know about the community you are working in is extremely hard. As the leader, I was often put in the position of agreeing with my colleagues but disagreeing with them because of the context.
I also have a tendency to get frustrated when things aren't going exactly according to plan. To be fair though, it is something I have gotten much better at having worked in India for the better part of the last two years. But still, I regret letting my emotions get the best of me at certain times. Unfortunately, my colleagues (and at this point I want to say that Art and Alec are two of my very best friends), were at the receiving end of my frustration! But because we all know each other so well by now, we were able to bounce back very quickly.
I promise my next post will be more concrete. But I want to finish this one on one last slightly abstract notion. What really excites me is the fact that we are at the very start of what we are trying to do. I will be moving to India in January after I finish my graduate program. I am so excited to finally have something in my life that I want to commit myself to. What makes it even sweeter is that it something that I have created. It is this very fact that makes all the difficulty worth it.
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