This is a blogpost by Hitesh Bhatt, member of Rang De’s impact team who is currently on a field trip to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

I got another opportunity to go on a field trip to meet our impact partners and our hardworking and enterprising borrowers. And this time it is Madhya Pradesh and I am not alone. Chaitanya is with me as a great mentor and a companion. I am sitting at our partner’s office (Shakti Mahila Sangh) and we are all involved in discussions about how to create greater impact on peoples’ lives and how to measure it better. This is a short break and I decided to write about my journey so far. So here I go…

The Jabalpur airport is located about ten kilometers’ away from the city and the drive took us through the cantonment area. The drive on narrow, tree lined roads to the city was incredibly beautiful. From Jabalpur to the office of our partner SMS is another 50kms drive. And we reached a place called Sihora late in the evening.

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The next two days we rode on bumpy roads to the interiors of Katni district and several small remotely located villages where we met members of around 10 Self Help Groups. The economy is largely dependent on agriculture, thus the conversation this time centred on the monsoons and the possibility of a drought this year. We could see farmers staring at the sky for signs of rain bearing clouds. But despite their anxiety, everywhere we went we were welcomed with great hospitality and warmth. Women would put teekas on our foreheads and offer us clove and beetles.

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Now coming to what do our borrowers do for a living. Most of them are involved in cow and goat rearing. Few are involved in their traditional businesses of bidi making and making baskets out of bamboos amongst other. And not to forget, agriculture in which almost all are involved in one way or the other. Livelihood options are limited due to inaccessibility to markets and illiteracy. In fact, proper connectivity to markets can open up a lot more livelihood options to people in the villages.

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In a nutshell: a different geography and different climatic, economic conditions is an excellent platform for learning. I find myself better equipped with new learning and possibilities.  Stay tuned for more updates on impact of our intervention on the borrowers. And now I should go back to the discussion.