As I expected the 40K program allowed me to experience first hand life in the developing world. After studying and reading papers concerning the ‘right to development’, ‘economic and social rights’, and ‘the practice of human rights’, I was eager to depart from our privileged society and put myself into a more relatable and relevant context – INDIA. This one month placement allowed me to experience first hand life in the developing world, and it solidified my understanding of why human rights remains such an important issue throughout the world. Economic, social, cultural and political frameworks are the core foundations that constitute human rights however in the developing world these foundations are rarely upright and so we witness rights being violated, factors we tend to take for granted in our western society remain pertinent issues that affect the day to day lives of millions of people. Living amongst a rural Indian village for one month certainly put my life and view on human rights into perspective as my prior academic knowledge was applied practically.
The amount of homeless people was quite confronting to me, especially seeing the lack of government initiatives in place to address the matter. Also the stark disparity between the upper class and significantly lower class was something I found difficult to comprehend.
Empowering and creating employment opportunities for the local women was a very rewarding aspect of our impact project. I had presumed that creating jobs for the women may be culturally offensive to the local men however I was wrong, infact the men loved the fact that we had given their wives an extended source of income. So, we employed ‘Madu’, a local mother who is currently churning out 5 handbags a week for us. She speaks no English, by using a translator we managed to establish an efficient manufacturing process and we’ve even given ‘Madu’ some creative freedom of expression so she has been adding her own embellishments to the product.
The program aside, I think living and working with five strangers was probably the ultimate highlight of the whole experience. Together we were a bunch of students from around to world, and a week in we felt like a family so there was no holding back! We were all from different walks of life and each of us had our own unique personalities that ultimately framed the dynamics of our vibrant and productive team.
Shout out to the fantastic Build program at UTS as this is how I even found out about the 40K program to begin with!
Our local cricket pitch
View from our rooftop
Visiting the 40K Plus Pod and teaching the kids some English…
We had a long weekend break in the middle of the program so I wanted to do something different. In the end, I convinced my friend James to come along and we both entered into a half marathon, bought cheap flights and that was it! We flew down to the state of Kerala for the weekend and submerged ourselves into a race where we were literally the only 2 white people in a 20, 000 person race. Felt like celebrity’s!