Namaskaram! That is hello in Telegu, the language most commonly spoken among the urban slum communities in Hyderabad. After two weeks, I've returned from the Pollinate Energy’s Young Professionals Program (YPP). Put simply, it was brilliant! Albeit tiring, challenging and at times quite confronting, but simultaneously one of the most immensely rewarding experiences of my life.
Pollinate Energy is a social enterprise established by a group of young Australians in 2012 who are improving the lives of India’s urban poor. It was fantastic to finally meet my fellow team members on the YPP. A unique bunch of people from a diversity of backgrounds but all with one thing in common, a strong social conscience and drive to make the world a better place.
It is estimated there are 306 million people in India alone without access to electricity. Many of these people live in urban slum communities. One way Pollinate Energy are working to improve the lives of these people is through solar lights. The solar lights provide many benefits, allowing families to cease burning toxic kerosene (previously their primary light source) and enabling children to read and write in their homes at night.
I was involved primarily with training new Pollinators. Training included many aspects of the role of a Pollinator, including how to respectfully approach slum communities, building relationships with the people and clearly explaining the variety benefits of the solar light. It has been amazing to watch the new Pollinators grow in confidence every day and put the training into action out in the communities.
The slum communities are very interesting places, of course confronting and often quite heartbreaking as the living conditions are so basic and so far removed from what we have come to expect in the western world. Despite this, I personally found the communities very peaceful and sociable places and the people incredibly welcoming and generous.
Pascal and Paul (Hyderabad city co-founders) are very inspiring people, putting great trust in us throughout the program to utilise our broad skill sets and put our own ideas into practice. Gaining an insight into the day to day operations of a social business first hand has been a great learning experience. Visiting and working with urban slum communities given me a greater perspective of how fortunate I am.
‘Often those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare’
Written by Joe Park.
See more of Joe's adventures on Instagram: @j.park16
At THISWORLDEXISTS, we are inspired by Joe's story and the work of Pollinate Energy. We believe that education is the key to improving the lives of disadvantaged people around the world, and just like Pollinate Energy, we strive to make this world a better place.