Sunday, January 24, 2010

Business...and Puppies!

Hello Loved Ones,

It seems that Loren and I have had lots of time to adjust and settle into things. All the care we've received from Shubhra, Puthumai, Shubhra's family, and many other kind souls has made it a soft landing for us. So, I'll take this opportunity to get serious for a bit and share more about the Center for Knowledge and Skills (CKS), where I am currently interning. This will probably bore you all, so I'm adding puppies at the end to make it worth your while.

But first, a few updates. Loren and I were able to get hold of a used bike. It is very sturdy, which was definitely a trait we were looking for because we are pretty hefty in comparison to many people here. It can hold both of us at once, and soon enough CKS will purchase another. It's a nice addition, and it only cost $19.50 for the bike plus repairs. Chitra and Ton Moy, Shubhra's sister and brother in law, made it all happen. They've been wonderful to us, and have offered nothing but love.

This is an answer to Michael's question - did I find sweets yet? Did I find sweets...I thought you knew me better, Mike. I sensed this shop's existence from eight blocks away. My sixth sense.
Ok, enough of that.

***Please know that the following is all heresay, and is only what I've gathered over the past few months. Some of the details may be off. Puthumai, if you read this, please correct me if needed.

As I said before, Puthumai has over a decade of experience playing somewhat of an interlocutory role between international and domestic NGO's, as well as between those and the government of West Bengal. Being a one-man communications hub of sorts, he has interfaced with and cultivated a vast network of movers and shakers in the disaster management and general humanitarian fields. He's familiar with the work of a huge list of these organizations. In his time working with grass roots non-governmental organizations (NGO's) he has identified that many are in need of support. So, in response, he has recently founded CKS to provide training and disseminate essential knowledge to the NGO's.

The following is a list of training modules CKS will provide potentially . This is the nitty gritty, so I would understand if you don't read it all. My goal is to provide share what CKS is all about. This doesn't necessarily answer the question, "So...what will you actually be doing there?", but it hopefully provides a bit of context for those interested. Puppies on the way. More adventure stories within the next week or so.

Social Analysis- Includes Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Systems in West Bengal, and practical tools to understand mechanisms and analyze causes of poverty in a community.

Rights Based Approach to Develpment- Explains approaches to development, constitutional, citizenry, consumer, political and informational rights, and how to attain them, and techniques to impart the same to communities

Project Writing- Concept Note Writing, Project Writing, Budget Making and a brief on LFA, Gap Analysis and Stakeholder Analysis

Constitution and Political Systems in India

Report Writing- Process Report Writing, Newspaper Report Writing, Case Study Writing, and Brief Report Writing, with a note on reports on emergency relief situation

Program Monitoring Skills & Methods- Personnal Monitoring, General Program Monitoring, Budget and Cash Monitoring, Quality and Quantity Monitoring, Outcome and Impact Monitoring - tools, methods and soft skills

Managerial Tools for Social Workers- Staffing, Directing, Monitoring, Budgeting, Planning, Coordinating organization or program; Documentary Needs; Organizaing Multiple Tasks - Procedures and Methods; law and social administration

Research Methodologies - Survey Methods, choosing a right method, staffing, documenting researchers - with soft skills on MS Access and Excel - for data entry, analysis, query and report generation.

E-Governance and Future Governance in India

Social Communication-Street Theater as a powerful tool to convey messages; and techniques for using visuals

Disaster Management- Thematic analysis of governmental and non-governmental system of preparedness, mitigation and response, including community based disaster management tools, with practical apps and visuals.

Disaster Response Management: Rescue and Relief Systems- inputs on "doing relief" camp management, data management, linkages, distribution of relief materials, stock management, emergency response report writing / systems etc.;conducting rescue operations and rescue methods

Rights of Tea Garden Workers and Rights of Indigenous People of Mountain Terrain

Government Schemes

Legal Rights and Police-Public Relationship
- Legal rights of workers, laborers, women and children, conjugal rights and duties; rights relating to police, ways to write a FIR, make a diary; rights and constraints in police custody and judicial custody

Gender in Development
Programs - gender and social policy

Life Skills Education- Youth and youth problems

People's Organizations
- SHGs, Farmer's groups etc.; community organizations

These are all the ideas Puthumai is considering for the courses and trainings CKS will provide to agencies. Loren's jobs are to create four comprehensive training or lesson plans, as well as to build the library. I will be focusing more on personnel by connecting with international students in the area to build a network of educated young folks in the area, drum up any form of support, or draw from their wisdom and experience. For international students hoping to volunteer with CKS, I will create a manual containing tips about arrival, eating, sanitary habits, internet and telephone, transportation, electrical and appliances, local gestures and body language, clothing, and making acquaintances.

Ok, no more for a while. I'm sorry to saturate you all. You're all in my thoughts and prayers.

Now, as promised...


  1. Everything is better with puppies!

  2. Jeffy! Looks like things are going well for you so far Im very happy to hear that things are going ok. I think of you often. Be safe. Much love! Melissa aka Moesha

  3. Sounds like really interesting and gratifying work you two are doing. Cute puppies, too. :)

  4. Thanks Melissa and Janet. Melissa! It's wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for all the love. I miss our breakfast times. Janet, thanks for staying interested in what's going on with me. Loren and I are really learning a lot. So much love to you both.