A peek into the life of a change leader
“Every morning, I am reminded of the faces of my students who left villages and turned to factories … At Makers Lab, I keep reminding myself it will keep repeating until the project is done … Every night I keep repeating to myself – Miles to go before I sleep.” –Ashwani Tiwari, Edumentum, Cohort’ 20
Ashwani Tiwari is the co-founder of Vidhyalam Udhayam Association – School Enterprise Network in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Through this organization, Ashwani works towards eradicating child labor by inculcating entrepreneurial skills in children and women collectives. These enterprises are solving the problem of local people by creating indigenous solutions.
By constantly starting new initiatives to help cater to the community and individual needs of the children, Ashwani is always busy juggling ideas and implementing them. With big dreams and mammoth commitments, we wondered how he manages his limited 24 hours.
Here is a photo essay to walk us through his day.
Empowering children through innovation
Ashwani starts his work by meeting the children who are part of the new Makers Labs initiative, a unique Vidhyalay Udhyam response to COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative helps the children develop entrepreneurial skills by creating products that are needed to solve community problems.
An engineer himself, he helps the Makers Lab participants to realize their innovative ideas like contactless water and sanitizer dispensers. These dispensers created by the children in the lab became a source of inspiration in the community. It was bought by local police stations, hospitals and panchayat samiti. The monetary consideration also allows the children to help their families in the present time of crisis. You can read about the initiative here.
Empowering stakeholder for a sustainable change
Most days, Ashwani has to meet the stakeholders, including the school leaders, headmasters, or school principals, to strategize the educational curriculum for students in schools. They also discuss various important parameters that affect the learning outcomes of children. This is a crucial aspect of the intervention of Vidhyalay Udhyam. It aims to ensure the sustainability of change and efforts by empowering the stakeholders.
Participation in community events
Then, Ashwani engages in various events that take place in the school and community involving children and their holistic learning and well-being. Active participation in community events also helps him understand the local facilities better to incorporate the same in his contextual learning activities with children later.
Collaboration for social change
In order to achieve a social change, collaboration is imperative. For the same, Ashwani meets the change leaders in the community who also work in or around the area. These meetings with the partner NGOs help form networks and bonds with like-minded and passionate people. Needless to say, these discussions are always spirited and culminate with innovative ideas.
Adapting with the times – Going Digital!
Due to the pandemic and the world going digital, the meetings with partner NGOs happen over video conferencing now. The same is with the seminars and other relevant sessions that Ashwani participates in enthusiastically, albeit electronically these days.
Debriefing the team to motivate them for tomorrow
Since the children are needed back at home, the Makers Lab generally ends with a team debrief and cleaning up of the space. This is the time when our change leader informs the participants of new developments in the project, such as new buyers, monetary compensation provided by the buyers, number of views on their YouTube video, etc. The children go back home motivated and excited to work on the project and solve more problems in their community the next day.
A ride through the thoughts
In the evenings, Ashwani rides through the beautiful roads of Udaipur to visit and spend time with the community. This is also the time when he gets to introspect and clear his idea.
Community immersion and engagement at the grassroots
Community immersion is an important step to engage at the grassroots to understand how social change is to be brought there. Its significance is unparalleled and our change leader fully recognizes its impact and therefore, makes sure to incorporate it every day.
Community volunteer meeting
At the end of the community visit, Ashwani meets the volunteers to discuss the various updates with respect to the community, children, events, and brainstorm ideas to be implemented in the future.
Exercising the mind for personal and professional growth
A day packed with so many varieties of tasks is bound to enrich the learning experience. Entrepreneurship indeed is an opportunity for personal growth. In order to enhance this experience, Ashwani spends time reading some of his favorite books to improve the effectiveness of his work before calling it a day.
-Written by Ms. Deboleena Dutta, Team EduMentum