My experience volunteering for End Poverty, a charity based in Gurgaon which aims to improve all aspects of life and opportunity for people living in agriculturally dependent villages in the surrounding area.
I arrived in Gurgaon, a hot dusty business district neighbouring Delhi. I was made to feel very welcome by Vinod Kaushik and Rachna Singh, the founders of End Poverty who kindly organised a range of tasks for me to get involved in to give me a clear understanding of all their active projects.
One of the main objectives End Poverty sets itself is to provide the villagers with alternative means of income other than agriculture which is becoming increasingly unreliable due to worsening environmental conditions, such as a reducing water table and pest resistance to fertilisers, and a poor scientific knowledge of agricultural processes.
One of the ways End Poverty intends to do this is by providing women with materials, sewing machines, sewing lessons and a channel of distribution for the products that they create themselves.
The products are currently available to purchase online and profits are provided directly back to the women in Tijara block. My first 3 days was spent organising a mountain of donated materials and clothes into various piles which could be provided to local women.
My second role was to work closely with a field worker to source and locate cotton seeds which were reliable and affordable. This consisted of two days driving on the back of the motorbike for hours on end, with one mirror and no helmet in the blistering heat and rain around various villages in-between Delhi and Jaipur to discuss seed quantity requests with farmers. We then discussed prices and seed varieties at various depots to try to ensure we obtained the best quality and price of seed available.
What quickly became apparent was the lack of education and agricultural knowledge the farmers have which means they are easily exploited by many different people from seed companies, factories and money lenders, sinking them further and further into poverty and debt every year. End Poverty is using this year to provide all farmers with a range of workshops which cover both financial and agricultural issues. End Poverty is going to provide them with fruit trees under their “Plant a tree for life” scheme. This project could help improve the farmers’ financial security and give them long term nutritional and environmental benefits.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at End Poverty for making me so welcome and giving me such a rich and insightful experience. I was particularly impressed by the huge sense of commitment given day in and out by the field worker team.