Ge in India: getting ready

Earlier this year, our Geraldine (Ge for short, pronounced like 'gee whizz') went to India to visit one of the innocent foundation's partner organisations, Jeevika Trust. This is the first chapter of her story. We'll be posting more updates here soon.

part one – getting ready

I am going to India in two days' time.

Suncream? Packed.

Mosquito repellent? Packed.

Camera? Packed.

Level of excitement, on a scale of 1 to 10? 11.

how am I supposed to pack?

I'm super excited. And I will make sure I bring lots of pictures & stories back so I can share what I learn out there as much as possible.

In my excitement I tried to prepare as best I could by reading everything I could get my hands on to try and give me some idea of what it would be like: I have read travellers’ blogs, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website, City of Joy (Dominique Lapierre), The Alchemy of Desire (Tarun J. Tejpal), The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga), Kim (Rudyard Kipling), Fous de l’Inde (Regis Airault) and my Eyewitness guidebook. I have also watched the beautiful 1982 film Gandhi, which depicts the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement in British-ruled India. I have even watched my first Bollwyood movie, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and loved it. Now I feel I’m ready as I’ll ever be to step-foot in India for the first time and discover for myself what it is really like.

I am travelling with the innocent foundation, to visit and work for one of our charity partners: Jeevika Trust.

So let me tell you a little bit more about the innocent foundation…

The innocent foundation aims to help the world’s hungry. Why? Because currently 1 in 8 people in the world suffer from hunger. The stats are shocking: in India alone, over 7,000 Indian people die of hunger every day. When actually, hunger is one of the most solvable problems in the world.

And about Jeevika Trust…

To help the world’s hungry, the innocent foundation partners with incredible charities like Jeevika Trust. Jeevika means ‘livelihood’ in Hindi: as they say on their website, it is not just about making a living, but about embracing all primary conditions for a dignified and hopeful existence. Jeevika Trust was founded in 1970 as a non-religious, non-political UK charity. Its mission is to tackle the roots of poverty, which fits very neatly with the innocent foundation’s aim.

Jeevika Trust works with Indian local partner charities. I will be visiting one of them: Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP), which can be translated as ‘lifeline council’. JRP is an independent development organisation working for peace, solidarity, human rights and sustainable livelihood in the State of Odisha. I will be visiting one of their projects which the innocent foundation supports. The project is called ‘Eco-Berhampur’, and it's based on an island where 80% of the population live below the poverty line ($US1 per day). The project aims to develop the Berhampur village by empowering the villagers to make the most of their natural resources and become economically and environmentally sustainable.

one of the beneficiaries from Berhampur island, with her granddaughter

And about me...

I work in the HR team at innocent drinks. I am very, very proud of the fact that innocent gives 10% of its profits to charity.

Every year, innocent gives two people in the company the chance to each visit one of the foundation project partners and support a project by doing a real piece of work for them. I am delighted to have won the scholarship last year.

I’ll be working on two different projects whilst in India:

- The first one will be to write case studies about women who benefitted from Jeevika Trust’s support. These stories will then be shared on JRP’s website, Jeevika Trust’s website and here on the innocent foundation website. I am excited to know more about women villagers whose everyday life is so different from ours. I am very keen to understand the challenges they face and how JRP works with them to build their capabilities.

- The second project will be to give JRP employees training on what an HR policy should look like. I believe no matter where you are, some key principles on recruiting, retaining and motivating people stay the same and make it easier to reach your goal.

I’m also hoping I can make a difference, however tiny that is, so that I’m not the only one benefitting from this experience… I feel so privileged to go and meet the people who work for JRP as well as the women whose lives have been positively impacted by the work of JRP and, indirectly, by the innocent foundation. I can’t wait to get there and see what it’s like.

This is me

Oh, and one last thing: I am French – so please excuse any strange phrases that don't translate properly. Thanks for reading, and I will write more soon.