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Preyansi Mani

Gandhi Fellowship 2010

UG - Political Science, Lady Sri Ram College

PG - Political Science, Delhi University

During my masters there was lot of indecisiveness about what to do next; I was running with a sole aim of being independent and to stand on my own feet. College life was about to end, there was confusion and zero clarity about which route to tread. That was when I came across the Fellowship. What really intrigued me about the Fellowship was the idea to deal with headmasters who are twice my age in the capacity of a normal youngster with no external authority. This really motivated me to give it a try and see how difficult the challenge really is.

Of course there was nervousness, excitement and great apprehension about the decision. Initially my family members were disappointed with this choice. They were concerned that I might end up wasting 2 years of my life and my talent living in villages. This was emotionally draining but I kept advancing and stuck to my decision.

I am a much more evolved person than I used to be. Without exaggerating, I am at the happiest phase of my life; a phase that is not just happy but content. The support that I got through my seniors and colleagues in Fellowship has been tremendous to come out of the emotional hurt that I struggled with for years due to my father’s demise. I would forever be grateful to my mentors in KEF for helping me find connection with myself and finding tools to heal my emotional side. Anger was substituted by empathy and ignorance with affection. Through self-development tools as part of Fellowship Program I was able to identify my weaknesses and organise my thoughts. I became more articulate about my feelings and understanding towards other increased.

Spending time in a rural setup and working with Headmaster on the other hand pushed me to find solutions that did not just come from an outsider with an intellectual brain but something that came from emotionally connecting with my headmasters and headmistresses. Their daily struggles also became my struggle and a mutual journey of growth together. Emotionally I became stronger, felt capable of changing something about this world.

I have committed myself to a vocational training program for next two years. My personal motive is not just to harness my skills as a Training Developer and Training Manager but also to understand the life and aspirations of blue-collared workers who perform cleaning services. Achieving dignity of labor is the biggest challenge that even Multinational Facility Management companies in India face when it comes to personnel performing cleaning services. The starting point for me is to develop tools that help workers to first start respecting themselves and taking pride in their vocation. Also it would be a significant achievement to get them to understand their societal contribution. The success in being able to do so in next two years will define my zeal to reach out to rag-pickers and municipal system of garbage collection that needs a major overhaul.

My relationship with my family has never been better than this and my brother is actually proud of my choices. They understand me and my ability to communicate with them have improved. At work, I am one of the best performers and my colleagues always admire me for my work and ideas.
“The fellowship was a turning point in my life that allowed me to clarify the direction I should take in my life. Each day working hard providing field support to Headmasters and then reflecting about the same in the evening really churned my life. The outcome was a clearer vision towards my future. Today I am working in my area which is youth, as a Program Director in an organization called Masoom. I am sure that through the training that have I received as a fellow, I can genuinely contribute towards the success of this initiative.”

Pallavi Gandhalikar
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The people and experiences in the fellowship was a real life changer for me. My area of interest had always been working with orphans, and during my last 6 months I was able to research and study that area. I was also given an opportunity to work with organizations and experts dealing with orphans. The entire journey has fortified my inner resolve to accomplish what I set out to do. Through all the support I have received at the fellowship, I have clearly moved in the direction that I can relate to. Today I am working with India Sponsorship Committee’s Vidayapeeth Project that is committed to protecting Child Rights in Pune.”

Mayuri Joshi
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The experience of Gandhi Fellowship proved to be useful because it has made me capable of making my own decisions. I have also learned the true meaning of working with a team of diversely qualified and capable individuals. It has been a very valuable experience to understand how each individual stands at his/her position in the context of life and the society around. It has made me realise that change is possible with a strategic and constructive approach. It has certainly added a page in the journey of my life and it has given me the right direction to move along the path.”

Kshitij Ramkrishna Patil
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“Fellowship brought clarity and conviction towards my life’s goal. My interests lie in creating models of self sustained village so as to control migration happening from villages to cities and to make it an interdependent economy. I have taken a first step to understand youth and learn how to convince others of one’s idea; working with fresh college youth shall give me a perspective of what they want and what I need to do so as to convince them of my idea.”

Atul Kotnala
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)