Swati is raising funds for a design thinking workshop to understand the developmental space of Ladakh
The India Fellow program is an experiential program where young people are placed with grassroots organizations to work on different social issues directly with a community. The program aims at capturing the attention of young people from all walks of life, with diverse career interests, to dig in and get their hands dirty, to get to know the development challenges through the hands-on work, training and coaching, thereby developing committed and passionate leaders who will bring about change in the society.
To enable the fellows with systematic tools to analyze a problem, Design Thinking is integrated into the training part. As part of the fellowship, we as a cohort are required to be working in a unique environment during our Design Thinking workshop. This 10-day workshop will involve us interacting with the community and help understand the issues in the region and come up with possible solutions for the same using Design Thinking skills.
This year our cohort has chosen Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir as our field area. Ladakh is a mountain-desert region – a complex ecosystem comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities, with temperatures ranging from 35° to -35°C. Ladakh is one of the rare places where one sees water, sand and snow in the same frame. All 17 of us will go to learn and work with different organizations.
This workshop is being organised by the fellows themselves, i.e. they will be raising money and taking care of all logistical arrangements themselves.
Our cohort is currently working in diverse geographical and thematic areas: from providing access to finance in tribal areas of Salumber, educating children in Naxal-prone region of Munger, providing livelihood opportunities to villagers in Raigad, and to coming up with innovative methods of learning in Palampur, to name some. In Ladakh too, we will be interacting with diverse organizations addressing various issues like the environment, livelihood, wildlife conservation and much more.
During the Design Thinking workshop, the Fellows will be interacting with the community and working with various organisations in the region understanding the unique ecosystem of Ladakh and various problems that this community faces. Some of the shortlisted organisations and their area of work include:
• SECMOL, a non-conventional school and the inspiration behind the school in “3 idiots”.
• LEHO, that promotes sustainable development using local renewable natural resources.
• Pagir, which provides equal livelihood opportunities to the differently-abled.
• Leh Nutrition Project, which began as a nutritional programme, and now works on education, health, women empowerment, and livelihood improvement.
• Ladakhi Women's Travel Company, a responsible travel agency owned and operated by local women.
• Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, an alternate education institute which engages in research & development to tackle various issues in the domains of education, culture, and the environment.
In this fellowship, fellows work directly with a community on social issues, with a team of dedicated social workers, and most of all, explore the heartland to truly understand India. By the end of the journey, they have experienced the social sector and have a clearer idea of how they can contribute to a better India. The exposure to social challenges will empower the fellows to find their own leadership potential, shape their futures, and make a difference.
As for the Design Thinking Workshop, it is a unique learning experience for fellows because it allows us to come together as a group and apply our diverse skills in different thematic areas in an ecosystem that is unlike anything we have come across before. Experiences and lessons acquired from the year-long exposure to different areas will be brought forward by the fellows. This will mutually benefit the communities as well as the fellows.