Recently, Cassidy Miller, a member of our field operations team, visited the community of Kurumpeta, located in a remote part of India’s Rayagada municipality. While there, two young members of the community shared with her a pair of hand-drawn, sizable illustrations detailing the difference the PHD [Participatory Human Development] process has made for the people there. Impressed and inspired by their work, we passed along a few follow-up questions to Nlamani, one of the artists responsible.

How long did it take you to draw these pictures?

Nilamani: The pictures were drawn by two people, myself and Mahan. It took us around two and half hours to draw the two pictures.

Capture holding signCould you share some of the differences made by PHDP in his community?

Before PHDPCapture before PHDPThe people of Kurumpeta had a low level of awareness and consciousness about our situation. We could not identify issues, we depended on others for help, and also lacked knowledge about how to access funding from the government for projects and opportunities. Women in our community did not attend any meetings; they were in culture of silence. We were facing many problems like an insufficient water system, lack of access to the free electricity connection available to those below the poverty line, lack of access to pensions for retirees and widows, poor sanitation, poor road conditions, lack of additional sources of income, and many more issues.

Some members of our community had problems keeping their property tidy and safe— they were throwing their garbage backyard of their houses and on roadsides. People used to tie their domestic animals (cow, goat, oxen) in the middle of the street. During the rainy season, the streets were muddy and unclean; there was stagnant water beside the tube wells and houses. Therefore, issues malaria and diarrhea were a constant concern.

Due to lack of social consciousness, many parents were not interested in sending their children to school, preferring them as labor for fieldwork and a means of taking care of their siblings.

After PHDPCapture after PHDPIn September 2010, the MGS [abbreviated name of Outreach’s Indian arm] implemented PHDP in our village. Through their facilitation, we conducted a community meeting and identified the problems we faced. Among the 11 issues that came up in the meeting, nine issues have resolved, one is partially resolved and one is ongoing. Now we have access to clean water for the community, we’re connected to grid for free electricity; the elderly and widows have access to their pensions, and the people of our community walk freely in all seasons on concrete roads. Through PHD process people gained confidence, skills, and strategies to resolve their issues. It raised our consciousness and built good relationship with agencies that provide resources. Now Kurumpeta has two issue-based groups, and an organization to develop the community and sustain the PHD process as we move forward.

What inspired you to make these illustrations? Why did you choose to make illustrations instead of some other means of demonstrating enthusiasm?

In Kurumpeta village, 80% residents cannot read or write. Most of the young people in our community are under 8th graders or younger, and are not comfortable to read and write in front of visitors. Through the facilitation of MGS staff, we discussed ideas among the group and agreed on a creative way to make a presentation: pictures.

Please share some of your own personal experiences of working with Outreach International/MGS— did you realize or learn anything you otherwise wouldn’t expect? 

Before PHDP, I did not participate in any meetings— I thought the responsibility for all our issues were for the older people in our community to resolve. The village head conducted all the village discussions and meetings; only the leaders were deciding. But through the facilitation of MGS staff, I became interested in action, and decided to address the lack of medical facilities in community. The results of my efforts inspired to me to sustain my participation in PHDP work. By going through the PHD process, I improved my confidence, gained knowledge and skills, raised my own consciousness and learned strategies to resolve issues. Now I’m facilitating village meetings, maintaining good relationships with government and non-government agencies, and sometimes providing orientation to visitors and agencies about our community’s accomplishments.

Do you have any hopes or goals for specific community projects in the future? 

My dream is that Kurumpeta will be the most developed village in the Rayagada municipality. We’ll have a good environment for people; everyone’s basic needs for food, clothing and medicines are easily met. We will have good houses, toilets, and sanitation; additional sources of income for every person, and 100% attendance at our school, with no dropouts. No one will have to leave to look elsewhere for safety and sustainable hope.

Learn more PHDP and our approach here.