“So, please tell me about your hobbies. What do you like most?” “Umm…well I like to travel and I travel a lot.” This is the most commonly asked question in an interview and the answer ‘traveling’ is a well-known reply. Traveling is a passion that can be found across every age group and geographies. Some like mountains, on the other hand, others like beaches. Taste differs from person to person and is mostly governed by the individual’s observation, likings, and inclination towards one particular aspect. Mostly, people find it as a scape from a monotonous lifestyle. Whereas, for a person like me, it is more about exploring the unexplored places and knowing about the culture and food of the place.
Generally, it involves a lot of planning, starting from finalizing the destination and company to make bookings. Very few are lucky enough whose work makes them travel to different places and work travel rarely aligns with your interest. My friends have always envied me because my work made me travel to places, which foster my interests.
Being in a profile, which requires my travel made me visit places that are unconventional to normal tourism but provided me with an exposure that I am sure no tourist destination can ever provide. The early November of the year 2019, I started my journey to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The itinerary had Guntur as the first place to visit followed by Vijayawada and Kakinada. My senior, Mr. Premson David from Kerala, joined me as we had to attend a meeting with the officials of Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipality Areas (MEPMA) in Guntur and it was important to have a company of someone experienced. The meeting went successful contrary to what I had expected. Kudos to Mr. David.
The next was supposed to be exciting as I was about to meet SHG women in MEPMA, who were the Master Trainers of our financial literacy program ‘Jaadu Ginni Ka’. It was the first time that I was interviewing anyone. Though I was prepared and excited nervousness is an integral part of the excitement. The interview began. Story by story, SHG women were sharing their experiences and how Jaadu Ginni Ka, made a long-lasting impact in their lives. I remember, Ms. Gulzar Begum who not only implemented the learnings of Jaadu Ginni Ka herself but also taught her family members. Well, this was just a beginning; much more was yet to come.
After the interaction, we set off to our next destination, Vijayawada. The journey was quite refreshing as the scenic beauty surrounded the highway. After the journey of one and a half hour, we were about to meet another set of people, with another set of success stories and experiences. As we were interacting with SHG women, I was getting to know the importance of financial literacy in our society and the impact that our program has made, which is no less than a miracle. In Vijayawada, I met Ms. Usha, a young entrepreneur, whose story was one of the best stories that I have ever heard of. She was a trained beautician and has worked with some of the best institutions. The desire of having her beauty salon was a long-lasting wish. She was able to fulfill her dream after the training of Jaadu Ginni Ka introduced her to the Mudra Yojana. She availed Mudra loan and started her salon with four employees.
I am known for my love for food and as Andhra Pradesh is particularly known for its spicy cuisines, it was an opportunity that I was not going to miss. After a tiring day, Mr. David and I decided to have our meal. Luckily, we landed in a restaurant, which serves authentic Andhra food.
The next destination was Kakinada but unfortunately, I had to travel alone because Mr. David had to go back due to some emergency. The day was going to be super hectic as the train was at early morning five. Anyway, I woke up at three in the morning to reach the station before time. Things were going as per the plan; I boarded the train on time. It took me four and a half hours to reach Samalkota, the nearest station to Kakinada and it took me another one and a half hours from the station to reach my destination, which I covered by an auto.
Despite being Sunday, MEPMA officials were already present, Thanks to the relation and reputation of my organization, Learning Links Foundation that I received such a warm welcome. The journey gave me exposure to things, which are indeed still playing an important role in my day-to-day growth. However, there was more to come. Finally, SHG women started coming to the office and we began our interviews. Until now, the stories were mostly around the people, who started saving after attending the training or availed any government scheme but Jaadu Ginni Ka showed very different magic in Kakinada. The training motivated many of the SHG women to start their own business. Kakinada made me witness the journeys of women from homemakers to entrepreneurs. An SHG group came together and started a canteen named Curry point that serves breakfast and lunch to students, working professionals, and many others. Another set of women started the home industry of pickles and spices, which they supply to local vendors and earn good profit. At the beginning of the trip, Mr. David and I were skeptical about Kakinada and almost canceled the plan. Had we called off our plan, the most astonishing milestone of Jaadu Ginni Ka would have left undocumented.
The agenda of the trip was to capture the impact of Jaadu Ginni Ka in Andhra Pradesh, which we certainly met but what I received as brownie point was the lifetime learning, the understanding of financial literacy, and its importance in society. Until the time, I did not visit Andhra, for me, it was a program but this trip changed my perception upside down. As I was reading my notes on my way back to Delhi, I was able to see a new me. A more responsible and mature person.