Programs and space for creative people.

/ zoemhamilton

Jagriti Yatra Day 11-12: Deoria, UP (Village Stay)

Not fully recovered from train sickness, I arrived yesterday in very rural UP, Deoria. Only three hours from the Nepali border, it was cold. We could see our breath before us like a white omen for the chilly night to come as we marched between sugar cane fields to Shashank’s home town. Shashank is the founder of Jagriti Yatra and each year brings the Yartis to his home district for the one overnight stay of the Yatra. The Yatris stay at his large, though unheated, home during the night while during the day they visit the impoverished surrounding villages interviewing the inhabitants about health, sanitation, education, local production, etc. Though the landscapes were lovely, the villagers warm and welcoming, it felt strange visiting the same place so many others like us had come before. Year after year young people from around India are shuttled from the train station into rural Deoria to talk to poor locals about potential for change in their communities through entrepreneurial dreams. Year after year these same villages see the same hopeful entrepreneurial young faces come and go, with no lasting impressions or tangible improvements. At least, none that we saw. It was a cold night in the village but a beautiful, foggy morning. Yatris took turns wandering off into the fields and surrounding villages throughout the morning as final presentations were given. For the past two days Yatris had prepared business models in an exercise called Biz Gan Tree. The winner would be awarded one lakh rupees from Google for Entrepreneurs to run a ten day trial. We left the village this morning, proposals done, village research done. Back to our train-home. Three more stops to go.