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The End

October 19th, 2007

I just finished up my final report for SEWA with a detailed analysis of case studies and an evaluation of their telemedicine system. I’m surprised it took so long to process all of that information into a readable document, but admittedly I have been a bit distracted with life back at Harvard.

I guess here is where I reflect on how great this experience has been and how much I have learned. I’ll try not to be too cliché…

As I would hope you can tell from my past entries, I have learned tremendously about the surroundings I was in this past summer. I navigated my way through the NGO world as I explored and engrossed myself in SEWA’s interactions with the rural population, large private corporations, all levels of government bureaucracy, and even its own internal administration. I also got to visit remote villages and have unprecedented access to investigate the lives of the rural poor.

This experience has gotten me thinking about involvement in economic development from a new perspective. Many people (or organizations, governments, and even corporations) in developed countries may have ideas to solve the problems that often plague developing countries, and maybe even the resources to back it up. However, in reality, very few succeed (or else we would have solved most of the world’s problems already). Through my experiences talking to everyone from villagers to corporate executives this summer, I now believe that a lot of this friction between idealistic intention and successful implementation is enveloped in an area’s culture. While the West may develop sustainable models to provide a formulaic supply of institutions for developing countries, the demand for these institutions is entirely dependent on an area’s culture. If one truly wants to make a change in the world, one has to understand an area’s culture thoroughly. One has to live it, breathe it, feel it, and then consider its impact on the proposed solution or institution, as well as the proposed solution’s impact upon the area’s culture.

On a more tangible note, I feel like I also helped SEWA a lot during this experience. Before leaving, I finished up several projects and left with SEWA a VRC database for easy record keeping and analysis; a detailed brochure detailing SEWA’s VRC system and its impact for distribution to government officials, donors, etc.; and a telemedicine training module to orient district VRC leaders and para-health workers on the telemedicine system.

I feel like I have invested a lot of myself into this experience, and I feel motivated to see my projects and recommendations through to successful implementation. I will keep in touch with SEWA and do whatever else I can to help. I guess that includes helping some more people do internships there. And maybe even helping them get a Ghungroo Grant.

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October 2007

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