Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bhumi In Detail

Bhumi was started by our current Vice President and when we were raising funds for OGH drive, a prospective donor made us realized that it is necessary to register Bhumi as NGO to effectively raise funds. The donor has said that he would consider to donate around Rs 4000, if we register Bhumi as NGO and when we did it, he donated as promised. This donation was used for Aug 15th event. Our Current President introduced present development model with 4 domains (Health Care, Education, Water & Sanitation and Livelihoods) and also to have sustainable and holistic transformation, which he learned and adapted from ByRaju Foundation Modules.

Executive Committee(EC) speaks of holistic and sustainable transformation as if it is well understood, but even after repeated probing till date neither it has been defined clearly or explained properly to my satisfaction or any bhumi volunteers, who i know. It appears that we are shying away from defining anything that sets parameters for ourselves and we give emphasis in using rhetoric to explain our objectives, which leaves ambiguity and cannot measure our success or failure. Even after having Rasoolpura as our first test bed and restricting all our activities to it, The fact that we don't even know handful of people, who would voluntarily come forward to help us in medical camps or events speaks volumes about our failure and in addition to this, our nominated Vice President and Secretary can't even navigate lanes of rasoolpura reflects our ground reality. We don't cease to use out dated figures which we inherited from MVF Foundation like having 700 students in rasoolpura government zilla parishad high school and 20,000 child laborers to galvanize people, when we know ourselves that this is exaggerated at best and dishonesty & manipulation at worst. We talk of perfecting art of transformation in rasoolpura and then implementing it in other slums but we don't even have inclination to conduct census on revised 25,000 target, as opposed to entire rasoolpura as planned initially, this lack of desire undermines our understanding of basic needs of the people, whose lives who we claim to impact.

August 15th event can be considered as a successful event in terms of recruiting new members and amount of media exposure that we received for bhumi, but we failed to attain our actual goals of building compound wall & securing land for the school and also it was discouraging for not finding much local participation for the event. As you may know, that we couldn't build the compound wall due to dispute over ownership of the school land, instead we built 3 rooms in the school. I believe this could have been avoided, if we haven't acted as private organization and allowed following things:
  • We should had a proper discussion regarding this project and its feasibility. We should had tried to understand mentality of the people in that area and how they planned to use this land.
  • We should had learned from the failures of an NGO, which tried to build same thing a decade back.
  • We should had heeded to school principal advice, who said all the time, that this land belongs to cantonment and not to the state government. If we had listened to him, then we wouldn't be in a fix when people complained about us to the authority and those couple of EC members need not go on fast for a brief period.
Just depending on one person, Mr R V Chandravadan didn't help us to build compound wall. I personally feel, that EC should let everyone know about how people in the area wish to use this land after a compound wall is built and also how much land does EC like to concede to the mosque and on what mandate?.

Anyways, EC members effectively used volunteers for publicizing and raising funds for the event, but volunteers were not considered for execution of the project, even after some people showed their interest. It was organized in such a way that other than EC members no one else had idea about revised schedule for Aug 14th night, many people just came to know about painting of walls just before it happened. In my personal opinion, i feel if we had worked as a team instead of maintaining rigid hierarchy and holding on to information, then we could had accomplished a lot and saved Rs 25,000 to 30,000 unnecessary expenses. It really shows our incompetence that we constructed 3 rooms for (approx) 1.8 lakhs in such a long time and most saddening fact is, that to know our expenses for construction, we need to check our bank balance rather than checking our accounts. It is no surprise that for this reason we can't provide breakdown of cost on item wise in our accounts, for example we don't know how many bricks we used or paid for!. Our way of maintaining accounts is to indicate how much money is left and not giving emphasis on how money has been spent!.

But anyways, our EC doesn't exhibit same amount of enthusiasm once the photo op is over. No follow up on OGH drive and this event is used as a trophy, when boasting once achievements. It is same with the compound wall issue and no status report is release till date. Recently we had DnE event and it too happened in pattern of August 15th event, once the DnE event was finished, EC went into hibernation over DnE until, one angry mentor cum bumi volunteer questioned EC and very next day, mails were sent to inform about a trip that has been planned for the children and also posted about the funds, that were collected through DnE event.

We have this grandeur idea of gathering funds for the organization by doing some business, this thinking is very typical of our president. We don't concentrate on raising funds on normal days for the organization, as all other organizations do, but we remember it and when we are in desperate need of funds. We plan to sell used clothes to rasoolpura people, but we forget the fact that these people are much more fashionable & conscious of their clothes than some of us are. Yes, when deliberations on the idea's implementation has started, it was dropped as speedily as it was proposed, for obvious reasons. We support our concept of doing business by stating, that in the process we provide livelihood to the people but forget about consequence of doing business and its effects on the organization, also not to forget about using bhumi's goodwill to bask the projects. We speak big of providing employment to the people of rasoolpura and concentrating all our efforts at one place, i.e rasoolpura but when we got lucrative cantonment project all our restrictions were diminished!.

When we do service to people, our intent should be to help as opposed to gaining popularity. We failed to understand this and distributed cheap quality spectacles to children, which may break in few days. In the past when we used to conduct medical camps, we distributed generic drugs without checking their bioequivalence & other parameters and there by endangering patients health. Our president once proposed to construct temporary toilets, to which some EC members opposed because already such plans were existed with the authorities and even then our president did not relent and EC had no way but to support him and finally he was hampered by greater situation.

When i think more about this it reminds me, that some of our EC members have desire to enter politics in the near future and they make no secret of it. The way they hold on to information makes me wonder whether we are here for service or something else?!!!


Anonymous said...

I support every word that you wrote in your blog but do you think writing here would make any difference?.

Anonymous said...

i agree with most things you write here, why dont you take the lead in action, afterall the problems of this country are aplenty and many bhumi members will join you in action, after all bhumi or any other organisation is just a platform for social change, or am i missing the point?

Priya said...

Dear DBV,
I share ur sentiments n i understand d frustration ur going thru..fact remains that there is no point writing, discussing or even debating about this issue. What i fail to comprehend is as to why ur hiding and writing a blog when you could come out in the open and talk boldly coz there is substance is what ur saying.
Or perhaps ur a member of the EC???
Lets just hope Bhumi does rise again like our president assures us.
Priya And Rakesh Kamal