Time to grow is now

2016 marks a decade of service by FIDA to improve the quality of life for the rural community of Wadeshwar Ashramshala.  FIDA continued its work unwaveringly amidst the many changes that rippled through India.

Every year we would think that we will not be seeing the FIDA members next year, but now after ten years, we feel that they are a part of our community.”

–   Parents
Wadeshwar Ashramshala

This quote embodies the spirit of the FIDA members. Their determination and perseverance has touched the lives of many families and youth. Thanks to FIDA, children, who did not dream because they did not know what to dream, now have goals and a means to achieve these goals. FIDA has given them tools to make them successful and to provide for their families, a better quality of life.

FIDA is now at a juncture where it needs to spread its wings. A successful prototype for adopting a school and through it a community, has been built.  A vast portfolio of projects have been successfully undertaken and completed.

The question that now arises for FIDA members is how to grow, how much to grow? Grow within the organization or outside the organization?

My first instinct is to suggest going all out and aggressively grow the number of external members. However, I understand the perils of doing that. Autonomy and quality of work would be impacted.

Then should we grow internally? Fact is we need to be pragmatic. We cannot expect the FIDA hands-on team to continue working on their own and taking on more work.  Even if they were willing to take up the challenge their efforts will not be enough. So to me, growth from within is our best bet.

Let us harness the youth from inside FIDA. Beneficiaries of the Wadeshwar Ashramshala are key to further success. They will have a unique perspective on FIDA’s next steps. Their experiences can help identify new challenges and also provide solutions for the same. They will be perfect mentors to other children. They will be able to guide and fashion the next phase of FIDA’s activities. They could monitor and manage existing projects giving the core FIDA members, freedom to work on new initiatives.

More work can be accomplished by regular active participation of the NRI members of FIDA. Here I point, all five fingers point towards myself.  I have been a passive cheerleader for FIDA in the last decade. Various reasons or excuses could be cited for this but now I am at a stage where none of these apply. I am already starting to envision an empty nest syndrome in the next five years. I recognize that now is the time that I can help FIDA. In 2017, I would like to actively participate in FIDA activities.  Ideally, I would like to join the team in India at least once a year and provide my services in any required capacity.

Remote mentoring of the FIDA beneficiaries has been proposed. Other activities that could be conducted remotely should be handled by overseas members. This will alleviate some of the burden on the Pune team.

Next comes the question of newer initiatives. Do we adopt more schools or expand work within the adopted school’s community?

My thoughts on this are that we need to do a little of both. With the help of new members guided by the current FIDA members, we could reach out to a few more communities and duplicate the efforts that were key in helping Wadeshwar.

Within Wadeshwar and other communities, we must expand projects that encompass a population beyond the families of the school going children.  We cannot always foresee the events that are going to disrupt day to day lives of people and therefore cannot prepare for them beforehand.  However, we need to have some sort of mechanism, for lack of a better term, in place that can react to the events and provide assistance to the community

Along with educating children, we are going to have to educate the adult communities to handle changes, planned or unplanned.  Technology workshops, finance management, on-line banking and other vocational guidance will empower and enable them. The school buildings with the new infrastructure can be leveraged in the time after the regular school day is over. In a reactive mode, FIDA will have to consider some hand holding to get through a crisis. However adult education in the long run, will ensure less handholding and a more organized response.

No matter what direction FIDA takes, change and growth are inevitable for its future success. As the Jefferson Airplane once sang, Life is change, how it differs from the rocks. The statement also applies to FIDA.

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