As of today, I have 10 days remaining in India, and it’s not enough time. Not enough time to complete all of the concepts the people at Jagran have suggested for me to work on, to spend more time in the villages the organization works in, to visit all the places in Rajasthan and India that I would like to see, to eat at all of the best Indian street food stands, to read all of the amazing books at Shikshantar or to master yoga and meditation like I “knew” I would at the beginning of my trip. But it’s as Papa-Ji, my host father and one of the wisest people I have met in my nearly 23 years, told me, “Time has no barrier”.
About halfway through this trip, I knew 3.5 months was too short of a time to spend in India. In general, life does not operate at Western speed; this is one of the most frustrating cultural adjustments to make for volunteers/interns, especially when you are on a limited time frame. I’ve experienced it, and seen other interns go through it as well. Some things take more time to do here. Fortunately, projects do get accomplished at JJVS.
This week, I completed and submitted a proposal to a funder for additional financing towards Jagran’s microfinance program. Though my original motivation to come here was to work on a clean water project, I’ve been able to be involved in something bigger. JJVS’ microfinance program is in its 5th year and has provided loans to nearly 1,000 different entrepreneurs, farmers, fishermen, etc. It has made an amazing impact in the villages where it has been implemented by stimulating the local economy with more sustainable, efficient agricultural processes and allowing local area shops to expand the number of products they can offer. Not only have the loans been able to develop the livelihood generation activities of people in the village areas, but it has drawn many of the communities closer through the Joint-Liability Group methodology or JLG. In this methodology, borrowers are split into groups of 4-6 individuals, and the group, as a whole, is responsible to ensure all payments are made on time. Because Jagran has been active in these communities for such a long time and no one wishes to bring financial burden on their neighbors, this methodology has been extremely successful in every community. How successful? The organization has had a 100% recovery rate on every loan in the 5-year life of the program. And if my proposal is accepted, the outreach of the program will more than double. Time will tell.