Heart / Mind (Heart over Mind)

by | Sep 11, 2015

Me and my sister, both working in development sector, have completely different beliefs about people living in rural areas.

“Even after knowing what to do they will wait for some external help to do it for them. They are very laid-back in their approach. They DEMAND help”. These were the lines my sister said when we had our last discussion on this topic.

On the other hand i have always believed that they are very hardworking but they don’t get the outcome they deserve. “They NEED help. They only need information which will create the awareness”.

As usual our discussion (actually argument) never reaches any conclusion.

Right now I am working on a project which is basically based on the all the previous learning my organization gathered from its different endeavors in the past. One of the most important learning which actually lays the foundation is that if we want to create a long lasting impact we should have a ┬álong term engagement with the community. The story behind this learning is that whenever in the past we had a short term engagement with community for providing any skill development training, for example training on wheat cultivation, animal husbandry, stitching and beautician courses, the people not only attended the training enthusiastically but also completed the training successfully leaving us with an impression that our job is done well and it’s time to go on another endeavor. But slowly we realized that our training had no or very less impact because after we left, people never or very rarely used the knowledge which they got. They used to move back to their old methods or lifestyle. Even if someone followed the teachings, he will stop doing it after some time. So we decided to have a long term engagement with the community – this time to hold their hands till they become self sustainable. This learning was not based on few experiences but on almost all the projects we undertook in our history of more than 10 years.

Since I recently started working with my organization, during my induction process when this concept of long term engagement was explained to me I recalled all the discussions i had with my sister about the attitude of people living in rural areas and i found that this learning contradicts my belief about people in rural areas because if they lack information which can create awareness, we are providing that information but they are not willing enough to go that extra mile (to follow the training and continue using it) and help themselves. Instead they come back to their comfort zone even after knowing the better way of doing things. I decided to check it myself when i get chance to engage with a community.

Very soon I got that chance and I was attending a community meeting along with Tulika, my co-fellow, in a village of Madhya Pradesh. After a brief introduction and after satisfying the farmers that we can actually help (its not difficult to make them realize that they can do better but its difficult to convince them that WE can help them in that) we started listening to their problems. After sometime, somehow battle of wits started between them and surprisingly they unknowingly started giving the solutions to their problems themselves. I was shocked as this clears the point that they were aware, they didn’t lack information, they knew the solution. The cause was their laid back attitude. They were not ready to walk the extra mile.

On my way back from that village to my lodge, in sheer darkness outside and inside me, my mind was raising a thought that why do we want to help people who don’t want to help themselves. My heart was still asking me to go for it, i don’t know why, but brain was not agreeing for this. After lot of chaos between heart and mind I had to make a choice between these two and I don’t know why I chose heart over mind.

Half Half None

Half Half None

The following blog has been co-written by co-fellows Daraab Saleem Abbasi and...

Stay in the loop…

Latest stories and insights from India Fellow delivered in your inbox.

9 Comments

  1. Laxminarayana Doosa

    I sometimes, wonder if we are doing what we are doing because the villagers need help, or we have a need to satisfy our conscience; that we are doing something about what affects us. Either way, is it their laziness or our own incapacity to motivate/inspire them enough to live the way we want them to, that is at the root of this frustration?

    Reply
  2. Laxminarayana Doosa

    I sometimes, wonder if we are doing what we are doing because the villagers need help, or we have a need to satisfy our conscience; that we are doing something about what affects us. Either way, is it their laziness or our own incapacity to motivate/inspire them enough to live the way we want them to, that is at the root of this frustration?

    Reply
  3. suresh

    Why to take heart over mind because mind ecome selfish at atime but the is never let u go selfish rular people didnt know what can they do they need a good leader who can help them to outcome and show their ability they need good education

    Reply
  4. suresh

    Why to take heart over mind because mind ecome selfish at atime but the is never let u go selfish rular people didnt know what can they do they need a good leader who can help them to outcome and show their ability they need good education

    Reply
  5. Anupama Pain

    It also takes time sometimes to migrate from one thought school to other. That is true of all human beings right? So why type-cast the rural poor into one bucket … Just like how we also demand and need from our surroundings and relations and everything else at different point of time and space so do they. Does that sound like another way of looking at it?

    Reply
  6. Anupama Pain

    It also takes time sometimes to migrate from one thought school to other. That is true of all human beings right? So why type-cast the rural poor into one bucket … Just like how we also demand and need from our surroundings and relations and everything else at different point of time and space so do they. Does that sound like another way of looking at it?

    Reply
  7. Shankar Ravikumar

    It’s not all that strange. Your sister was right, but they aren’t to be blamed for that. Rich, educated people are just as “lazy”. How much good dieting/health advice have you heard and ignored? Have you taken life/health insurance yet? Do we all save enough each month? Etc. Or, better yet, consider smoking. Plenty of smokers are well aware of the dangers of smoking and yet continue to do it. The poor are no different from you and me. I’ve said this before many times – education ISN’T enough. It never is. The saying goes – “You can take the horse to the water, but can’t make him drink.” Awareness programs aren’t even doing that! – they’re merely providing the horse with directions to the nearest pond. And yet people expect them to work?!
    Those villagers aren’t acting any differently from the average person and the fact that their situation is dire makes not the slightest bit of difference – they’re already used to it being that way. A better approach would be to work with people AS THEY ARE rather than expecting them to become virtuous overnight. Solutions involving incentives – both positive and negative – or designs that dovetail with their existing lifestyle i.e. that are CONVENIENT, etc. are FAR more likely to work than a simple awareness program. This applies to programs for every strata of society – poor, rich and everyone in between. Of course, actually designing such a solution is much easier said than done. But there’s no need to blame people for being….well, people.

    Reply
  8. Shankar Ravikumar

    It’s not all that strange. Your sister was right, but they aren’t to be blamed for that. Rich, educated people are just as “lazy”. How much good dieting/health advice have you heard and ignored? Have you taken life/health insurance yet? Do we all save enough each month? Etc. Or, better yet, consider smoking. Plenty of smokers are well aware of the dangers of smoking and yet continue to do it. The poor are no different from you and me. I’ve said this before many times – education ISN’T enough. It never is. The saying goes – “You can take the horse to the water, but can’t make him drink.” Awareness programs aren’t even doing that! – they’re merely providing the horse with directions to the nearest pond. And yet people expect them to work?!
    Those villagers aren’t acting any differently from the average person and the fact that their situation is dire makes not the slightest bit of difference – they’re already used to it being that way. A better approach would be to work with people AS THEY ARE rather than expecting them to become virtuous overnight. Solutions involving incentives – both positive and negative – or designs that dovetail with their existing lifestyle i.e. that are CONVENIENT, etc. are FAR more likely to work than a simple awareness program. This applies to programs for every strata of society – poor, rich and everyone in between. Of course, actually designing such a solution is much easier said than done. But there’s no need to blame people for being….well, people.

    Reply
  9. srijalism

    Hi Bhavesh,

    I just now read about your journey. I was not aware of this untill today brother. Keep up the good work and just go with the flow. We all are with you.

    Regards,
    Srijal Sahu

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: