“I want everybody to come with me [to visit India]. Seeing is believing…”
—Geeta Mehta, in a recent interview
Each year, for the past 10 years, AI founder Geeta Mehta and friends of AI head overseas to visit project sites first hand and receive reports from the field. “For me this is the highlight of the year” Geeta says. “I feel this is something that we have to do every year,” Geeta says.
This year’s weeklong trip kicked off on August 4 in Chennai with two days conference at our partner organizations, which were attended by managers from several AI projects, and community learning centers with MSSRF. Afterwards, the group headed out into the field for two days to speak with the field staff across many sites.
Geeta feels that these trips are extremely important because, just as AI has grown, the projects we support have grown in size and scope. It’s essential that we understand how and why so that we may know how best to allot our resources. “When we started supporting MSSRF, [it was] very small, and now there are at least 350 staff members at the foundation. The communication process has become a little more complex.” She explains, “Giving money is OK, but if you can give of yourself and understand the issues, it is much better.” So this annual trip [provides] time for critical conversations and brainstorming sessions that over time generate approaches. It’s a time to review accounts and make plans for the coming year.
You may be asking why this can’t be done from New York City. Geeta says it best: “It is a huge responsibility to take someone’s money and say you are going to do something with it.” The only way to properly do that is to “follow the money.” Literally. Also, for Geeta and friends of AI, the trip serves as an annual reminder of what makes our work in South Asia so great. “I love being in the field, I love the food, I adore the people”, she says.
Are you interested accompanying Geeta on an upcoming trip? Please contact us to learn more. After all, seeing is believing.
Next month, Lynn Bernabie will share with us stories from this year’s AI trip.
– Charlotte Evans