I’ve just finished my first real week at Shelter, it went strangely fast – and I didn’t really do anything. Pratima Tai (Director of Shelter Associates) came back to the office on Wednesday. We’ve agreed I should do some work to the current Shelter Associates website as at the moment it’s a bit messy, and they are paying a lot to maintain it though the company doing the work never do it properly. So it seems like a worthwhile use of my time here to try and solve that problem. Along with the website I will be working with GIS, which is a tool for mapping areas with a lot of detail. It is essentially a database that shows its results in map form… If that makes sense? I will be working with Pradeep next week to try and understand GIS and how it is used for mapping the slums. Then we may be heading to Mumbai to meet a group who are working on an open source implementation of GIS at IIT in Mumbai – Which appears to be a technology institute/university but I’m not sure yet.
The group at IIT know how to build the software, but they don’t have the experience of using it in the way NGOs like Shelter use it. The idea behind creating an open source version of this software (Open source essentially means free to use) is to make it more accessible for organizations like Shelter, as currently it is very expensive to get a hold of. The use of such software is becoming a requirement to secure the funding necessary to carry out the projects that Shelter work on. Smaller organizations can’t afford the software and even if they can, learning to use it is quite difficult. So they are really disadvantaged in this area. Pratima Tai hopes that some kind of partnership between the open source group and an NGO like Shelter will lead to the software being built to a much more accessible standard which will make it really useful for other NGOs like Shelter.
I’ve spent the week planning and learning how to use a new platform (Drupal) so I’m ready to start the work on the website. I’ve also just been learning about Shelter and getting to know everyone. Everyone in the office is very nice and very friendly.
I’m hoping to work out how to get the bus to and from the office, as it’s about 10rs compared to up to 90rs each way on an auto! The buses here show the route numbers in Marathi though, so it’s quite difficult for me to find the right one. Zahida was very helpful and showed me where to get the bus, and came with me to Koregaon park then showed me where to get off the bus and how to get to my lane – It didn’t go quite to plan and we got a bit lost, her husband (I think?) showed up on his bike and took me to my lane then went back to take her home – which was incredibly nice of them! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being on a scooter/motorbike here though, Rickshaws I can handle. The only problem is I don’t know what the number is so I can’t figure out if the bus I’m going for is the right one! I’ll need to work it out over the next week.
Megan (The American volunteer who’s been here for about 7 months) leaves the office on Monday, and since Pratima Tai is in Sangli on Monday we had her “last day” on Friday. Everyone in the office made her favourite Indian dishes and brought them in, so there was a bit of a feast! No one really wastes food here, so your plate gets refilled until it’s all gone! Ross came back from the Sangli office for the weekend aswell, so I finally met him. He is from Bristol and has been here since nearer the start of the year, and is staying until February at least. He is working on a re-housing project in Sangli that sounds really interesting – Hopefully I’ll get to go visit Sangli and learn more about it.blog comments powered by Disqus