Part IV: This is part four of an eight part article series on JIVA, the Joint Initiative on Village Advancement, an integrated community development program jointly created and implemented by PYXERA Global and the John Deere Foundation in three rural villages of Rajasthan, India. This series reflects the impact of the JIVA program on its contributors and communities. To learn more, visit the JIVA Homepage and the most recent project update. Keep an eye out for Part V.
I am from a village about 12 miles from the JIVA office. I had previously worked on the construction of several private and government buildings, but my experience of working at JIVA is completely different. Here we work with and for the community in a participatory way. I am dedicated to my job at JIVA because of the complete freedom to express one’s opinions and ideas. I like the support and space provided to work and innovate. After seeing the success of pomegranate in the JIVA villages, I planted 1,200 plants on my farm last year.
Before JIVA, farmers were completely dependent on agriculture and did not have any experience related to farming as a business. Agriculture in the area is rain-dependent, so their economic condition was poor. Due to low income, farmers could not pay attention to their children’s education. Farmers used to take their children out of school to work on the farm, so that the children could contribute to the economy of the family. The government schools lacked basic infrastructure and facilities, which negatively impacted children’s health.
JIVA's Virtuous Cycle
When JIVA began, the biggest challenge was to bring a sense of unity. The villagers assumed that JIVA was like other NGOs in the area, and they did not trust us. The villagers did not have any feelings of community development and would only ask for individual help, such as digging their wells.
JIVA started by building a collective community development spirit and doing work that benefited the entire community, such as investing in activities that improved water resource management. In doing so, JIVA began winning the trust of the community. Now people say that this type of work has not been done anywhere by any organization in the Railmagra district.
There are always difficulties when working together, especially in the construction of infrastructure. Everyone wants to get a contract, but our mantra is that an impartial tender process is the only process. JIVA strictly follows the tender process, discussing and responding to queries in a timely manner, so we can select the best contractor without any kind of discrimination or self-interest. This method also helps avoid politics and blame by others. Good intentions and honesty make our approach successful, and gradually the community is also starting to expect and follow this process.
"Today, the happiness of the people and the support from the community are the symbols of our success."
The biggest lesson that I have learned is that we should not make any decision quickly by getting emotional. We must try to understand the emotions and thoughts of the community. The community members’ involvement and their willingness to share their thoughts openly show their engagement with JIVA. If we look back to the early days of JIVA, I feel that the projects done by JIVA are on the path of sustainability. I hope that, going forward, the JIVA team can achieve more in less time.