The challenge I'm tackling today is to find a 'power player'... quite literally. I love the first part of missions on EVOKE because they seem to focus in on finding the very source of inspiration. Inspiration to me is the real fuel that's powering our EVOKE community. It's where the ideas are coming from as well as the hunger to think them up. It's also by far the easiest of the three types of mission because there are so many inspirational people out there to write about!
For my answer to this mission I would like to offer the following video.
Joe Madiath is a social entrepreneur in Orissa, Eastern India. Orissa, which celebrates its provincial independence tomorrow on 1st April (Utkal Divas), is the country's poorest state. Many of its people do not have access to clean water, adequate sanitation or electricity. This is something Joe Madiath has made his goal in life to change. His company, Gram Vikas, is dedicated to help rural communities of the indigenous Adivasi people in three important ways;
To build separate bathroom facilities for every family in each village;
To build wells in each village so no one has to leave the village to fetch fresh water;
To connect each village to an electricity grid.
As so many agents here on EVOKE have pointed out, quite rightly, telling people what they need then forcing it on them is not the way forward in solving their problems. The Adivasi are a people who have lived in Orissa for thousands of years. They have a culture and a way of life of their own. Their people do not need to be schooled in how to run a successful community. They do not need to be spoonfed by those richer than them.
It is Madiath's approach which is innovative. He approaches the people of the Adivasi as equals and offers them solutions to their problems in these three areas as a business venture. The people pay for the bathroom facilities, wells and electricity themselves. They even build the facilities themselves.
It's a project which is clearly working. Two years ago when this video was filmed, Gram Vikas had helped to build 30,000 toilets in Orissa. The number is no doubt much higher in 2010.
The obstacles stacked against Madiath are formidable. The lack of support and apathy of politicians reluctant to bring about necessary change. The sheer task of operating in a state where 95% of the population have no access to clean water.
Are these unsurmountable obstacles? Madiath doesn't look like the kind of person who will give up. He looks like the kind of person who will laugh in the face of adversity, because he puts his focus where his heart is.
"It is more than water and sanitation, it is human dignity. I hope by  this element of human dignity we are able to embed in the minds of the people; but more than that, the policy makers, the politicians, the beaurocracies - they will understand that it is not handing out facilities that is required but giving the people a feeling of dignity." - Joe Madiath in an interview with Global X in 2007. Watch the rest of the interview here.
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The exchange works directly for state and public workers and servants. It gives them credit in exchange for the amount of public work they contribute to the community. The more constructive they are based off a base rate the more credit they recieve.
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