The success story of success stories | Milaap
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The success story of success stories

In the month of July, I had the pleasure of hosting Kiva fellow Lauren Coberly, on field, in Jaipur district of Rajasthan. It was an indescribable journey and certainly helped me gain an understanding and insight of my own location, where I was the first fellow and had been stationed just 10 days back.

Taking Lauren around to various borrowers of Apani Sahakari Sewa Samiti, Milaap’s partner, a range of excellent printers and artisans was unique experience, for both of us. The visits were scheduled a week before, by personally meeting each and every borrower, charting a course to follow with careful consideration to time and distance among the 200-250 villages  that include Apani’s borrowers all around Jaipur district.
We visited the villages of Tikel, Madrampura, Bagru, Jhag and others covering areas where a majority of borrowers were based. Hema Kumawat, an inspirational single mother from village Jhag engaged in Aratari, Stone cutters from Tikel, Cloth printers from Bagru were some of the extraordinary people that we met while conducting field visits and documenting stories of change, stories of utter faith and determination. Lauren, who had been to India for the first time had many keen observations to share, her thoughts and feelings about the culture and people made me see my own country in a new light. The borrowers too were thrilled to meet a representative of the people that had been lending funds to them for quite some time now. They welcomed us excitedly and were quite eager to show and explain their work to us. I translated their spoken word to Lauren while she enquired them about the loans, the benefits and disadvantages of undertaking loans and how had loans brought about a change in their lives, I felt I learnt a lot from her, given that she had already been in 5 countries during the tenure of her fellowship. The dos and don’ts of a field experience, what sort of questions to ask, to actually be able to gauge the impact of loans on people or to create innovative  content. For lunch we had delectable authentic Rajasthani Thali, while Lauren struggled with the spices. The visit concluded with our field partner inviting us over to dinner at his home; we spent a fun filled evening after a day’s of hard work.    

During her visit, I got to interact with Lauren a lot, someone belonging to a world of totally different realities and also got to talk about her travels to various countries of Samoa, Vietnam and Thailand during the tenure of her fellowship with Kiva. She enlightened me on various cultural and sociological variations she noticed while she travelled throughout Asia; even drawing quite intelligent analysis and analogies about differences between North and South India, which was a given due to India’s gigantic size and diversity. It was a brilliant learning experience for me. Given that it was her first visit to India, naturally Lauren wished to visit the Taj Mahal situated in the city of Agra which also happened to be my hometown. At the end of our field visits we went to Agra and to monuments like Sikandra, Agra Fort and of course the Taj and chatted for hours on an end on variety of topics. We took a train back to Jaipur, which was truly an achievement for Lauren to survive through. The experience was truly humbling.