by: Samantha Kennedy,Programme Intern – University of Ottawa
This past month I had the incredible opportunity to visit Haliyal to observe and assist with some of
the learning and livelihood projects CHerYsh Trust implement in the surrounding rural communities.
Through my involvement in the learning facilitator training, the Shiksha inspections and the
Shiksha evaluation pilot project, I was able to gain valuable insights on project management in
The Meghshala training motivated the learning facilitator’s to take their roles seriously, and to see
the value in the work they do and the positive impact they can have on their students’ lives. During
the training sessions, young mothers were accommodated and allowed to bring their children. By
recognizing the individual needs of the community members, it created a welcoming, comfortable
space for women to collaborate and learn together, empowering them to take on more than their
prescribed gender roles and realize their potential.
We conducted a pilot project to evaluate the impact these after school learning programmes have
on the students. Through this experience I learned the importance of pilot projects, as they identify
issues and act as a building block to creating a successful, sustainable project. Additionally, we
organized unannounced visits to various villages to observe how the Shiksha’s run and if they are
effectively using the learning tools CherYsh has provided. The tablets that each learning facilitator
is given is a great way to expose children to innovative ways of learning, however, unreliable access
to electricity made it difficult to keep them updated and charged. This is a challenge I have had the
privilege of never experiencing, and something I have taken for granted in my everyday life. Visiting
during storms and experiencing this challenge first hand opened my eyes to how it directly affects
access to education.
I also had the opportunity to meet and interview the women group that cultivate the sugarcane bud
nurseries; one of the most successful livelihood projects run by CherYsh. By speaking to the women
who were directly impacted, we were able to better understand the successes and shortfalls of the
program, as well as hear their individual hopes for the future of the project. Gaining this insight is
crucial to create a program that meets the needs of the communities, while promoting sustainable
Staying for such a significant amount of time allowed me to push past a surface level understanding
and develop my own perspectives. I believe conducting these visits and creating a dialogue with
community members is crucial to understanding how plans translate in the field. Collecting their
feedback and observing the challenges they face allowed for us to identify where more support is
needed. While there were many challenges recorded, it was inspiring to see the women’s
motivation to build a better life for themselves and be at the forefront of their own development.
Regardless of the hardships in their lives, I was warmly welcomed into their homes, offered chai,
and treated with nothing but kindness, which really spoke to the beauty of their community.
Overall, it was an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in an environment that is starkly
different from what I am used to, and to develop new perspectives in the field of international
development. My visit to Haliyal was an absolute pleasure, and I am eternally grateful for those who
supported me throughout my stay and made it such a success.