Delegation to India Program: GCJ India 2017
The GCJ delegation was carefully designed as a living learning lab – for both personal growth and learning, and for whole group and inter-cultural group learning. We brought 12 US and Western delegates to live and work together with 12 Indian delegates. We spent time developing leadership skills of the delegates as well as provided structures, forms and dialogue opportunities for the US and Indian delegates to reflect on their experience and learning. We wove in the skills of Compassionate Listening and Inter-Cultural communication. A special focus was gender equity in support of education, safety and opportunity for girls and women.
A key part of the Journey was our partnership with Maher, a network of children’s and women’s homes outside of Pune, Maharashtra, our host organization. Maher gave us a deep dive into the experience of the power of love for healing and social innovation. Participants found Maher a shining and inspiring example of social innovation – and the living embodiment of compassion and unconditional love. Shining beyond many NGOs visited all over the world, Maher exudes a powerful force of love that creates a journey into wholeness and healing for all who go there – from the battered women and children who arrive to the talented, stellar and big- hearted staff to the volunteers who keep returning from around the world to have their hearts grow bigger and nurture their forever ties to Maher!
By living and working together while at Maher, the GCJ delegates, American and Indian, build relationships and revealed to themselves and each other assumptions, values, cultural conditioning. We worked on a project of Maher’s choosing (the building of a large vermiculture pit and bio-gas unit at Vatsalyadam, one of their main facilities) as well as co-hosted a larger community meeting. At that meeting, we engaged the community in dialogue using World Café and Open Space, with the intention of training the Maher staff in how to facilitate so they can use those approaches as tools in the future. This approach was very powerful in our GCJ projects in the Niger Delta, Ghana and Liberia.
We began in Delhi: the 8 US delegates gathered January 12 and enjoyed visits to historical sites, including temples, the Old City, the museum at the site of Gandhi’s assassination — and a trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. We also visited several NGO’s and local leaders, with an emphasis on womens empowerment.
In Pune we joined our 11 Indian delegates plus 2 Maher hosts and then shared 8 days in the rural areas of Maher homes, interacting with the women and children of our home site (Vatsalyadham) as well as visiting the many varied aspects of Maher activities, including the self help groups, preschool in the slum, women’s vocational training, etc.
We visited Pragati Foundation in Pune, to discover how they combine western results-orientation training with spirituality, a small foundation that supports and empowers urban women. The US delegates spent our last days up in the Hill Station of Panchagani, partaking in the international program of Initiatives of Change in the morning and spending the afternoon reflecting and harvesting on all our learning. The program ended in Pune, on Friday afternoon, January 27.