I hail from a town named Gulbarga in Karnataka. After my education, I moved to Bangalore where I started working at Rang De — an organisation that works with rural entrepreneurs. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people and that inspired me to join Rang De.
But what did I know about rural India?
Only what I had read in books, seen in movies and heard from others who had visited villages. For a while, I worked only at the office. I had read stories about borrowers who were availing loans and stories of how the loans were helping them.
Reading about them brought a feeling of empathy but I never really understood their life until I visited the villages of India.
After 11 field visits in eight states, I became a changed person. Earlier, when I read about a borrower, I just read the text. I had nothing to associate it with but now I associate every story I read with the borrowers I met.
It has made me more connected with the cause and I am really glad for the opportunity to go to the field.
I have realized that a small amount of Rs 5,000 which doesn’t really matter in urban areas can change the life of an entire rural family.
As much as field visits are a learning experience, they are emotionally and physically tiring. I have had to walk on kaccha roads for a long distance and at other times, the life stories of these individuals have left me in tears.
Showing our emotions on the field in front of people does not always work well. It is very necessary to follow the basic etiquettes of social work on the field. They need our assistance and want more funds but we cannot promise anything and have to be objective in our assessment.
Sometimes, I found it hard to keep my emotions under control but with time I learnt how to do it.
People in rural India are not very well educated. They are not aware of banks, loans or financial institutions. When a Rang De loan helps them, they are thankful for it but they rarely realise that a group of people were involved in promoting their stories and getting people in the cities to contribute to their betterment.
Sometimes, borrowers would be overwhelmed after meeting me, fall at my feet and thank me for having given them money. Honestly, it is hard to deal with such things. I still try and patiently explain to them that there is a whole team involved behind this and it is not just me but I am not sure up to what extent they understand.
Every day, we see a new change in the cities on our course to development. As much as the urban areas are developing, there are still many rural areas that are very poor and backward. I noticed a lot of rural Indians still use the barter system of trade.
They know and understand the value of money and use it while carrying on trade with people from other villages but they still prefer the barter system of trade. The biggest drawback of the barter system is that people cannot earn a proper living.
They are aware of both the value of goods and how they can exchange it. Selling goods and services for other necessities ensures that they get what they require but without proper monetary earnings, it is very hard for them to break free from the shackles of poverty.
Travelling to all these villages has inspired me to keep working.
I have now realized that every small thing which you and I do here actually makes an effect in the lives of the people.
Pramod was previously with the Impact team and has now switched over to front end development and joined the Tech team at Rang De. He can be reached at email@example.com