Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 23

Our first meeting was at Oxfam India. Actually we didn’t have a contact name there, so we just showed up – that seems to work pretty well. We have a different driver, one that speaks a few more words of English, and he is much better at finding the offices. Some of the buildings & houses have numbers on them, but many offices don’t have signs out front, and I haven’t seen a single street sign. Inevitably, the driver has to get out, sometimes several times, and ask people where the office is. It is a challenge finding these locations.

We met with Ravi Singh, who is the Finance Officer, and has worked for Oxfam for 11 years in different parts of India. He talked about some of Oxfam’s programs – their biggest one is livelihood, where they provide support for agricultural programs. They are also working on programs for ending violence against women, women farmer campaign (so Indian women can have land in their names), and education for the lowest caste girls (dalits). Oxfam partners with other NGOs to provide emergency relief, including clean water & sanitation. Mr. Singh talked about the challenges of working with many other partners, and how Oxfam conducts financial monitoring of the other agencies because some of them aren’t good at reporting & planning. He gave us several documents, including an Annual Report, Newsletter, and a report on Oxfam’s mission.

Several of our contacts have mentioned that working with school children is a very effective way of changing attitudes & mindsets on the importance of clean water & proper hygiene practices, and that we should talk to someone in the Department of Education. We had a contact name from one of our interviews earlier, so we headed off to find this person. After finding the place, and a comical exercise in going up 3 flights of stairs, then down the stairs to another building, then back to the first building & up the 3 flights of stairs again, we talked to Mr. Ashok Ganguly, whose business card states is the “Additional State Project Director”. Mr. Ganguly talked about the number of schools in UP, and how the rural areas especially need water & sanitation help, and separate toilets for girls & boys. He suggested WFP could start in UP with several schools for underprivileged girls. The Director wasn’t there, but Mr. Ganguly was going to set up a meeting with him for later in the evening, but he never did call.

Statue of the Chief Minister of UP, Mayawati & the Governor, Shri B.L. Joshi. Their pictures, especially of Mayawati, are plastered all over Lucknow.

One of many hand pumps all around Lucknow. There is a public toilet in the pink building behind the hand pump.

Lucknow Convention Center

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