PUNE! As with everything in this country they once called Hindustan we have all the flavours of the spectrum. From the expansive houses of the rich to the dust shrouded and crowded streets of the masses. This is a city that has an amazing array of things to explore and we just keep on doing it.
Wow so much has happened I genuinely don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the fun stuff so that everyone out there with no interest in microfinance can head off once we reach that point of the presentation 😀
Lesson 1: run across the street when there is NOT, I repeat NOT a bus coming your way…now this seems like a simple request but honestly, when all you see is the other side of the road and a sea of rickshaws, motorbikes, and all manner of other cars you will take any gap in the traffic to get there, a couple of our team members have come a little too close to death haha!
Lesson 2: Rickshaw drivers don’t even know where Pune is let alone deserve for the meter not to be turned on…someone who takes you around without any concept of direction can just keep to the rate.
Lesson 3: After being rejected from entering an Ashram built purely for rich Westerners and Opulent Indians to relax, do yoga and have stress releasing sexual encounters with each other please run…run for your life…they have a button that makes branches fall from trees in an attempt to kill you!!!!!! Poor Steph P came 2 metres to being bashed in the head!!!
Lesson 4: I am Ricky Martin.
I lament that time is restricted for this post, therefore there will be a very limited take on microfinance here so far. Microfinance is a very complex industry and one that can certainly alleviate poverty, within reason. One of the key things I have taken from the last 4 days of experiences attending industry conferences, visiting slums to watch the practice in the very environment it works and talking with professionals in the industry is this: Microfinance cannot alone eradicate poverty and in fact has a very limited capacity to do so. Microfinance is however a means to economically and therefore socially include a sector of society that has been negated from an arena that we, especially in developed nations, take for granted. Simply think of what you could not access without the option of credit in your life? I personally would not be able to pay university because HECS wouldn’t be available to me and all of us would not be able to take out a mortgage.
Microfinance is about choices…giving people the choice to access a particular service or survive without it. At this stage it is solely concerned with giving those living in poverty a source of credit, but who knows what the future holds…savings, insurance and other financial products that I surely could not live without.
Imagine living day to day with the cash in your pocket being your only means of survival? Walking into a bank to open a savings account and not being accepted or treated in a repectable manner. Some things we take for granted, but I’m a little tired so this is it for now. A more indepth look at what I am seeing is to come 😀
Tomorrow we will be returning to Mumbai, yay! Our home away from home for the next 2 weeks…time is flying like crazy but there is so much to absorb it’s not funny!