My name is Naimal Sohail, a Pakistani girl currently residing in the UAE. I’m majoring in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) from Ajman University of Science and Tech.
Before I stumbled across the opportunity of becoming an online content writing intern at Rang De (an online platform that crowd-funds micro-loans for rural Indians), I was looking for a meaningful internship that would be much more than just something to put on a college graduate’s resume. I realised that what Rang De offered was more than the opportunity to polish one’s writing skills but also an educational experience stemming from a cause — poverty alleviation — that resonated with my heart since long before.
Even though I live in Ajman, I can’t help but be affected by the growing poverty in my home country.
Watching heart-wrenching individual stories of poverty on the Pakistani news channels are a daily reminder of the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.
Poverty is not confined to a geographic location. A poor man in Pakistan is stuck in the same rat trap as another living in any other part of the world… and this is why we need to address this issue on a united front.
The indications of economic growth on the world map are meaningless until its effects trickle down.
What my country lacks in the form of effective government policies and practical efforts towards poverty alleviation, it makes up through individual acts of philanthropy and the commendable work done by local NGOs such as the Edhi Foundation among many others.
An email entitled Welcome to Rang De, Interns marked the beginning of my association with this organisation on February 1, 2016.
What motivated me to pursue a virtual internship at an organisation from a country I neither lived in nor ever visited? The answer was simple: poverty is an issue that knows no boundaries and needs to be tackled on a human level. This online internship has provided my writing a sense of purpose, a personal connection with people whose voices need to be heard, stories that need to be told, resilience that needs to be lauded and potential needs which need to be invested in.
The work I was primarily assigned were 100 word profiles.
“Fairly simple,” I thought to myself initially.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that these profiles would become a daily gateway into the lives of a tailor, a farmer, a cow milk seller, a goat farmer or a grocery store owner. What all of them had in common was their resolve to make the best of what they had rather than be ungrateful for what they didn’t.
What fascinated me the most about my seniors at Rang De was their belief that “every word, comma and period matters.”
The writings I did for Rang De, however, carried with them the responsibility to do justice to each individual’s story.
After all, a day’s delay on our part would mean a delay in the submission of a child’s school fees or a farmer’s purchase of seeds and fertilisers for the new season’s crop cultivation.
What amazed me the most about people who approached Rang De for loans was that they shattered the misconception that rural families weren’t inclined to pursue an education, considering it a luxury they couldn’t afford. I strongly felt that most of the people who had submitted Rang De loan applications that I came across during the course of these past three months were convinced that their children deserved an equal opportunity to receive good quality education and they strived to make their dreams of becoming a doctor or engineer or joining the IPS sector a reality.
As I mentioned earlier, this internship was a complete educational experience for me. I learnt a lot from the occasional impact stories — of inspiring individuals like Manjunatha and Rajavairam — to the thought provoking discussions arisen after jointly watching a documentary titled Nero’s Guests.
My heart leaped with joy at how a loan worth Rs 10, 000 could help Manjunatha Hunsur pen a new, happier chapter in his riches to rags life story by way of investment in his mobile canteen business. I was happy I could gauge the impact loans disbursed by Rang De had on individuals through the Impact stories and it enabled me to empathise with the lives of low-income individuals.
As my internship comes to an end and I bid farewell to Rang De (only for now), I can’t help but share some reflections on my long distance relationship with India. What appealed to me the most was the diversity.
After having written profiles on individuals hailing from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh etc, I have felt a sense of unity in that diversity.
Also, it was the first time in my life that I came so close in touch with Indian folks and I must say that their immense support and congeniality was much more than I had expected.
Thanks for providing me a truly unforgettable experience.
Students from across states and various backgrounds are currently writing for Rang De to help us publish stories of over 1,000+ individuals seeking affordable microcredit (which you can contribute to) in India.
If you are interested in joining us as a volunteer writer, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.