Keen to contribute to society in a meaningful way, Saddam Hussen Nyajo Khan enrolled as a Rural Development Fellow for the Village Social Transformation Foundation (VSTF), a joint initiative between Maharashtra government and partner organisations headed by Tata Trusts.
The associate of the Chief Minister’s Fellowship Programme was posted in Maharashtra’s Jambhli village. The enthusiastic young man’s ambition was to be an agent of change for the community and Saddam’s first challenge was to win the trust of the sceptical villagers. The Jambhli villagers had responded to many surveys earlier with no substantial outcome and hence they had become reluctant to trust any new initiative.
For Saddam, the path to Jambhli’s progress was paved with challenges. He decided to begin by addressing minor issues that could be resolved quickly to gain the trust of the villagers. “One such issue was that of a dead power transformer – it was not functional for more than three months, as a result of which the village was without power supply for months,” says Saddam, adding that the issue became more prominent when the villagers needed electricity for a community function. “When I enquired why the transformer hadn’t been repaired in the interim period, the concerned village officials told me that the unit had to be transported to the power supplier’s workshop in the nearby city, where it could take a week to get repaired,” says Saddam.
Even as the local officials at the village-level maintained that getting the transformer repaired in the city would be a long drawn affair, Saddam decided to get to the root of the matter and contacted the state power distribution officials in the city to get more information. It turned out that with a little push and initiative the transformer could be repaired on priority.
The change agent co-ordinated with officials in the city and arranged to transport the non-functional transformer to the city workshop. The power company officials responded positively to the Chief Minister’s fellow and ensured that the transformer was fixed immediately. By the end of the day, Saddam was back in the village with the working transformer and power supply was restored in Jambhli.
As a person who saved the day, Saddam was now looked upon by the villagers as someone they could trust. This trust helped Saddam achieve his goal of doing something worthwhile for the community, and set an example for others to contribute to the state through the VSTF initiatives. As a token of their gratitude, the villagers gave Saddam the honour of hoisting the flag on Independence Day in the village.