After quitting his job as an engineer, Shashank Singh decided to take up a development project in rural Rajasthan. Today, he is living in a village, helping rejuvenate a pond that will help generations to come. When 25-year-old Shashank Singh entered a village in Rajasthan with a solid plan for a rural development project, he never knew that he would end up working on something completely different.“During a survey to find out what problems people were facing, I went to a village near the place where I was supposed to start my project. It had a very nice pond that the villagers had been using for years. Speaking to a teacher there, I came to know about the time around 40 years ago when they had mobilized the community and constructed the pond together. It was then that I decided to replicate the project no matter what,” says 25-year-old Shashank Singh Kachwaha, who then went on to start a project on the rejuvenation of an old pond and construction of a cattle park in Chota Naraina village located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan.SBI Youth for India fellowship is a 13-month-long programme that enables young people to work on rural development projects with different NGOs.
It has been eight months since the beginning of the 13-month long fellowship, and Shashank has been living in the Field Centre itself. He began work by talking to the residents, asking them what they needed – and found that there were four ponds in the village that were not being utilized because they were broken or did not have water anymore. There was no planned construction for conservation, which was causing the rainwater to flow away instead of collecting at one place.“I chose to work on this particular pond because the catchment area is very big – approximately 700 bigha. And once it is ready, 5,000 animals from five nearby villages will be able to drink water from the pond every day,” he says. The catchment area is the area from where rain water flows into a river, lake or reservoir. The surface on which the 480 x 150 feet pond is being constructed is non porous, so the water holding capacity of the soil is very good. After every monsoon, it can hold water for 12 months. A cemented wall is also being constructed around the pond.“One of the biggest challenges I faced was that the villagers were not ready to believe in me. They kept thinking that I was someone who had come from the city without any knowledge about their problems, and would leave soon without doing anything concrete. So I started by talking to them, winning their trust, motivating them to participate, and trying to make them understand the importance of this project.
Finally, after several meetings, we made a committee of 25 villagers who will be responsible for looking after the pond once it is ready. Currently, it is the villagers who are working on the construction of the pond, while I am guiding them and helping with the funds. They are at the digging stage right now,” says Shashank.“I had promised at the village level that I will make it happen. So in the beginning, when I was working with the NGO to get permissions and funds, the villagers would ask me – ‘What happened? When will we start?’ I did not want them to believe that I am just someone who made an empty promise without doing anything about it. And that is what kept me going,” concludes Shashank. After completion of this project in five months, he plans to go back to his hometown in Bihar and learn agricultural skills so he can take up farming.
(Text Source:The Better India)
Tags: Shashank Singh | Build a Pond in Rural Rajasthan | Shashank Singh Kachwaha | Young Mechanical Engineer | NGO | Rural Rajasthan