PRA exercises were followed by a long discussion. Participants wanted to know the outcome of exercise and how we are going to use the information. On being asked how they found the exercise, there was a mixed response, while few participants found it interesting many participants said they want to know how they will benefit from this exercise.
We shared with them the broader objective of the project; of linking the community to the growing tourism, the exercise was explained as the first step towards Bottom-Up approach. We explained them the difference between the Top-down and Bottom-up approach and how such exercises will help us in learning the awareness level and what the community thinks about the resources.
Community members were eager to share their views, and wanted to know more. Most of the participants said “we are illiterate, how can we benefit from tourism”. The meeting ended with a promise from both side to meet again to discuss,
I. How can we benefit from the heritage
II. Does tourism provides opportunity only to literates and educated
We thanked them for the hospitality, cooperation, active participation and anticipated such participation in follow-up meetings.
Follow up discussion
The team completed the “Resource map”, the first part of the PRA with all identified groups in the target villages. This was followed by the follow-up process with respective groups. The team was surprised to find more participants in the follow-up meetings. Team began the discussion from where we left last, “how we can benefit from tourism”.
The team shared the findings of the first exercise; on the basis of the resource map the team could infer that the women in the vicinity had very little or no direct livelihood link with the tourism. All the positive impact they mentioned reflected the indirect benefits. Few of the participants said “we are illiterate”, how we can benefit from tourism. Few women in the meeting said, “When we pass by the Nalanda remains we find that we can make some of those souvenirs too”. The participants shared more such items; few of them were trained in making children toys etc. Few women took initiative in mentioning other women from village who had such skills but were not the part of the discussion. Team was interested in knowing if they ever tried to market the products. We received a variety of answers, some said they never thought in those lines, a few said they want to market product but don’t know how to do that, some members felt the quality is not up to mark. In all participants were vocal about there thoughts shared what they felt.
Gradually the focus of the discussion was sifting towards finding suitable solution. It was felt by all the participants that a collective approach is required. Few members cited about programs that they watched on TV about Self Help Groups, few members mentioned about such Groups they have seen at other places.
We had few more such meetings and eventually everyone agreed to start a small group that shall work closely to build on available skills. The team and the participants discussed some rules so that group gradually gets more involved and disciplined.
Some basic rules were framed,
1- Team shall meet once a week at a predetermined place
2- Each member will contribute Rs,1 every week
3- Team leader will be decided on rotation basis
4- Proceedings of the meeting will be documented in a copy
The team could facilitate 5 small groups in 4 villages. In later months, few women took the lead and many more women joined the group. Though many women faced objections from their families, few women took lead and discussed matter with their families and tried to solve misunderstanding.