- Smita Ram, Rang De co-founder and Managing Trustee
Rang De’s Smita and Sowmya recently returned from a field visit to Mysore where they interacted with Rang De beneficiaries along with the members of our field partner SVYM. Here’s a detailed account of their exciting experience!
“Yet another Field Trip!” No, it never really feels that way. Every village in India has so much uniqueness to offer that one can’t but look forward to a Rang De Field Trip. So here I was with Sowmya – one of my best buddies , my co-social worker from college and now Rang De’s Chief Impact Officer – all set for the trip to Mysore.
We decided to rely on the public transport and thus landed at the Kengeri Satellite Bus Station to get our ideal bus to Mysore. ‘Ideal’, we call it because we were hell bent on not taking the volvo. Got into an ordinary bus after gobbling a steaming plate of idlis at Kadamba.
The drive to Mysore, as everyone is aware, is not just historic but culturally rich. From the thatte idlis of Bidadi to the rocky mountains of Ramnagar, the wooden toys of Chennapatna and the sugar city of Mandya – there is so much to devour on this route that the 150 kms seem really well spent. We were off to meet one of our Field partners – Swamy Vivekananda Youth Movement - for an evaluation. Any field evaluation of Rang De usually involves a review of the partnership and meeting with borrowers who have received Rang De loans. We had to change our plan a bit, thanks to our decision to not take a volvo which meant we headed straight to the field once we reached Mysore. Field in this case was a small village called Ramanahalli – a 15 minute drive from the Columbia Asia Hospital.
We were guided by Mary and Harish – both long timers with SVYM and were joined by Kumar and Jayashree at the village. We went straight to a half constructed building to be greeted by a bunch of enthusiastic women of different age groups. They were members of the SHG – Chamundeswari – all had taken loans for their businesses.
From selling vegetables and fruits, there was every single business that one could think of that was being done to make a living. We couldn’t but help think of the 262 unique activities that Rang De has funded so far. After a lively discussion with the group that was led by an enterprising Madhavi, we departed to meet the next group. The next group was located in the heart of Mysore – just opposite a hospital. A group of street vendors who are amongst the most exploited – by the local money lenders, the police and also victims of their own competition. Not any more for this group as our field partner has helped them deal with all these problems. The Rang De loans have taken them to safety. From paying Rs.200 per day as interest on a Rs.1000 loan, they are now the proud recipients of the Rang De loan where they pay Rs.850 per year on a 10,000 loan. Their stories were all deeply inspiring, Rang De’s impact more than obvious – both tangible and intangible!
Thanks to a downpour, we decided to head to SVYM’s office. As always, this is a place one needs to be to get inspired. We had a meaningful discussion about Rang De’s partnership with SVYM with the director Mr. Sudharshan and then spent time going through the records that were maintained for Rang De.
As we bid goodbye to all the team members a SVYM before we got into our ‘ideal’ bus again, one couldnt but imagine the blurring of boundaries between 2 organizations. We felt that we were no longer 2 entities working in tandem. We had incredibly become one to fulfill a common mission of fighting poverty and destitution in India!
Interested in meeting Rang De’s borrowers and our field partner SVYM in Mysore? We’re heading out to Mysore on 10th August, 2013 to do just that! Sign up NOW!