It has taken a long time to do this
Shaishav Trust, India
Shaishav Trust, India
After university, my plan was to work for a couple of years and build up a small amount of savings, and then ‘at some point’ look to do any work in interesting places for a few years. And I wanted to leave a positive mark on wherever I went. This rather fuzzy and undefined ambition got somewhat lost in the rush of career, mortgage, children etc. And a quarter of a century on I still hadn’t done anything much about it. My ‘at some point’ was probably at early retirement.
I had some powerful inspiration last autumn. A colleague explained that his parents – both doctors – were now retired and spent four months a year running micro-clinics in villages in their original homeland, India. We joked that they could do this because medicine was something ‘useful’. We briefly discussed whether our financial skills were also ‘useful’ and I tried to think what I might usefully add and how. But it was still at ‘some point’ in the future.
That changed in February when I left my job. That day I found AfID (thanks to Google) and discovered that accounting experience is in demand in the same way (OK not exactly the same way) that medicine is.
So what to expect? My only previous experience of India was Delhi in July. So Bhavnagar in October should be cool, dry and uncrowded in comparison.
I’ve been given advice to ‘try to fit in’ in the town. Some of my friends have been somewhat sceptical of my ability to go completely unnoticed.
In terms of work, AfID were careful to select the project which matched my experience, so I guess they’re confident that I can add something. The people at Shaishav have already been welcoming. It would be wonderful to repay that by leaving a lasting positive legacy.
What else do I want to achieve whilst I’m here? I’d like to get involved in the community as much as the short time period and language differences will allow. I can’t help thinking that a love of Cricket and Food will help with this. Finding a team to play with, or friends to watch Saurashtra in the Ranji trophy with on days off, would allow me to really feel I’ve been part of Bhavnagar and not just passed through.
I’m not here to travel, but Palitana is only a short distance away. I’m fascinated by the Kalpasar Project and want to find out what the people think of it locally. I’ll have failed if I don’t see something of rural Gujarat as well as the city. And I plan to see family friends in Mumbai.
Any fears? Of course I have to look after myself and take care with food and water. I’ll miss Joanna and the children. But really, my only fear is that I don’t make the most of this opportunity – either for myself of for Shaishav.