Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 2: A Sneak Peak into Behind the Scenes of International Development Work

Week Overview:
Monday, June 22th, 2015 - Traveled from Bangalore to Chennai via train (~6hr train ride). The train stations are bustling here! There are so many people waiting, resting, eating, sleeping, walking and rushing with bags and packages varying in sizes.

Tuesday, June 23rd 2015 – Sanjukta, Zubaida (CEO and co-founder of ayzh), and I skyped with IDEO, a design firm that selected the newborn kit for one of their design challenges to work on, for their interim report synthesizing their trip and proposing two areas of design opportunity: disposable + reusable and disposable everything. I thought they had great ideas, such as designing a tool tray that could be conveniently place in a small autoclave to promote good sanitation practices. I’ve been in contact with IDEO in the design process for the newborn kit with the intention to integrate our work.

Wednesday, June 24th – Office work with ayzh: writing donations letters to various authors* to in order to have books for the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) and background research on some IDDS project ideas.

Thursday, June 25th – ayzh met with a team from the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) at a very nice hotel in Chennai. We went through workshop-like activities in thinking about the functional, emotional and health benefits for ayzh’s stakeholders (hospital administrators, OBGYNs/Nurses/Healthcare Workers, beneficiaries, investors, grant funders & government), and then identified key variables in ayzh’s impact and how to measure that impact to support their work. Please see “International Development behind the Scenes" below.

Friday, June 26th – I moved to a hostel about 4km from the ayzh office. Another undergraduate intern, Garland, arrived. It’s nice to have another person my age interning with ayzh. Sanjukta, her friend Reagan, Garland and I spent the evening at the Chennai beach boardwalk. It was the perfect evening of freshly crashing waves, freshly roasted corn, freshly baked idlis & freshly blended fruit smoothies (Date Shake anyone?! :) ).

Saturday, June 27th – I woke up at 5am to go to the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram (about an hour North of Chennai) with Sanjukta, Reagan, and Garland. To give you a sense of how beautiful the temple was early in the morning, there were numerous couples taking wedding photos. I’ve never seen so many engaged couples in one place in my life! You can see a picture from our time there on my facebook. We also went to some other monuments in the area. It was great morning!

Some Unexpected Happenings:
·         Curfew at the hostel – The first night I did not even know there was a curfew at 10:30pm! The second night, we called a cab at 9:45pm, but did not get one until 10:30pm! When I arrived the second night, the watch man said, “not again.” I’ve definitely not gotten off to a good start at the hostel being late two nights in a row (Not to mention, needing to wake the watchmen and others up in order to leave at 5am Saturday morning). Oh boy. Luckily, he knows I have good intentions. He smiled slightly after I explained how I tried to get back in time and how sorry I was. One girl at the hostel told me that the watch gaurd cannot scold me because he cannot speak English very well. I supposed there are advantages to language barriers sometimes… but I definitely do not want to be late for curfew again!

·         Landry – How much time did it take my white pants (and some of my other clothing :( ) to become  stained beyond wear? Less than 2 weeks. I tried to do my laundry at the hostel, but the washing machines had something in them – sort of bark-like. While my clothes smell good, some of them have stains. I got my own buckets and stain remover supplies to try again with hand washing, but it may take a miracle. :/  If I determine it’s necessary, I can always get some new clothes and the clothes here are stunning. :)

International Development behind the Scenes:
It is really interesting to think about how to measure the impact of a product, such as a clean birth kit, that focuses on prevention. While the kit provides tools for addresses the World Health Organization’ six cleans*, there are so many variables in infection. In a hospital setting, the healthcare worker will still use metal tools such as scissors, which are hopefully sterilized. But you cannot control the healthcare worker’s behaviors, how the mother gets home (dirty bus?) and what occurs at home (using dirty rags?). 

Providing evidence for ayzh’s work by quantifying impact in the dimensions of each stakeholder is important, but it is challenging to derive numbers when there are many third variables with the complexity and interconnectedness of the world. Apparently, ayzh has a set of data that needs to be analyzed and I hope to help make sense of these numbers. J

How the well-established institutions invest people’s time and energy, finances and other resources to support small social ventures focused on international development (ID) work, such as ayzh, is quite interesting. For example, the well-established supporting institution may spend an excessive amount of money on sending people to consult with the social venture for a short, in-person meeting. While it is important for their people to be comfortable, I believe the money that goes to extravagant luxury is not necessary and could be spent in better ways to support the social venture. 

I am not going to say too much more on this, because I recognize I am very ignorant in this area. But I have begun to learn that the ways organizations interact with each other in ID work is very complex and fascinating. I would like to understand more in of where the money and resources go and why. If you have any other interesting examples or insights into this, please let me know!


**The World Health Organization recommends the “6 cleans” to prevent infection during childbirth. They are: Clean hands of birth attendant, clean perineum, clean birth surface, clean cord cutting, clean cord tying instruments, and clean cloth for drying. The CBK provides the 6 items related to these cleans: gloves, soap, a blood-absorbing underpad, a surgical scalpel, a cord clamp, and a baby-wiping cloth.

*If you are interested in reading material the books are:
·         Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (I did not send the email I wrote and don’t know the status)
·         Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (They actually responded!)
·         Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want By Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda & Alan Smith (Donating 100 Books!)
·         Poor Economics: Rethinking Poverty & the Ways to End It by Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo (No response… yet?)
·         We are Like That Only: Understanding the Logic of Consumer India by Rama Bijapurkar (Also, did not send the email I wrote and don’t know the status)
·         Switch: How to Change Things with Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

·         The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism by Cathy Clark, Jed Emerson & Ben Thornley (I sent that today)

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