This week was the first week of the International Developing Design Summit (IDDS) in Chennai that will be held until Aug. 1st. IDDS is a hands-on design experience that brings people from diverse nationalities and socioeconomic statuses to create low-cost, practical innovations to improve the lives of people living in poverty. During the summit, participants work in teams with community members from developing countries, learn the design process, identify problems and solutions and test prototypes.
Although IDDS is officially hosted by HIVE InnoSpace Foundation, a non-profit organization to support innovators addressing development issues, and organized in collaboration with IDIN network members from the MIT D-Lab, a couple ayzh members are involved in running the program. Habib is the lead organizer, Zubaida is the lead instructor and Sanjukta is one of the design facilitators. Over the week of preparation, I have been blown away by the amount of hard work that each organizer has put into this experience over the past 6 months! I swear it has been a part-time job for many of them! Despite all of the work beforehand, there have still be many late nights/early mornings in the beginning of this week.
IDDS is on an engineering college campus. I am staying at the college campus doing my ayzh work on the sidelines (which I am in the same room the participants or Zubaida and Habib, but doing different work). I some support work for IDDS, such as printing papers, communicating with guest speakers, etc.
Monday, July 6th 2015: First day kick-off!! It was fun to meet the participants watch them do their first design activity. Ticora Jones from USAID, a person I now really admire, attended the opening of the summit and she held a talk in the evening where she described her journey from a material science engineer to the USAID development lab. I really enjoyed being around her the past couple of days because it’s clear how much she values relationships based on how she treats everyone with such respect. She has mastered the art of making everyone in a large audience feel personally valued.
Tuesday, July 7th 2015: It was nice to relax a bit in the afternoon by reading my current book Americanah, which is excellent so far. I also played a little bit of soccer and basketball! India has a pretty sedentary life style and it felt great to do a little physical activity again.
Wednesday, July 8th 2015: Did you know that prescriptions are not necessary here? I went to the pharmacy go get some medications for the design leaders. I literally told the women in a pharmacy what I wanted and purchased the medications for a reasonable price, compared to the US.
IDEO presented their prototype work!!*(See Below!) I am really curious about how healthcare workers will use it, if they will use it appropriately, and what might arise in the testing process that we haven’t even thought of yet.
Thursday, July 9th 2015: I felt honored that the house keeper, Lalita cut some fresh flowers to pin in my hair as I was heading out of dorms after putting them together. Lalita is very caring and such a sweetheart!! We are so messy and she works incredibly hard to serve us personally well.
For IDDS, the participants listened to speakers from a variety of healthcare backgrounds. Sujatha from Family Planning Alliance told a story of how she became interested in a family planning. When she was a young girl, her family had a young woman (~16) as a house worker. The house worker suddenly began to become sick in the morning and would say, “the food did not agree with me this morning”, but it occurred repeatedly. Her stomach began to become bigger. Soon it became clear that she was pregnant and did not know it. When she had labor pains, the family sent her to the hospital (~5 miles away) on their box cart (only transport they had). She gave birth to the baby in the cart about ½ way to the hospital. After delivery, she gave the baby away to the first person she saw. Sujatha asked “what if she knew about and had access to contraceptives? What if she knew what sex was? What if she knew what was happening to her? What if she knew what missing her period for such a long time meant?” It was a powerful story because it showed the importance of family planning. I realized the privilege of my education, which included health/life skills that is very easy to overlook. I agree with Sujatha that access to family planning information and basic supplies should be a basic right for all.
Friday, July 10th 2015: What would you do if there was a zoo right across the street from your college campus? In the afternoon, I walked to the zoo with the IDDS participants for them to practice observing, asking and trying methods of interacting with stakeholders to get extract information. Whoever thought of renting bikes in the zoo was a genius! I rented my sketchy bike that did not have brakes with Jimena, an IDIN intern from Mexico who is working on evaluating IDDS as part of a project in her master’s program. We had so much fun biking up to the animal cages, looking around for the animal, and then continuing to bike the loop of zoo. Could you imagine biking the zoo in the U.S.? What fun!
Saturday, July 11th 2015: With my internship, I feel fortunate to have simulating work, feel that my perspective is respected, have housing and food taken-care of and work with such amazing and inspiring people. Additionally, I get to travel around India and go to health centers with local people who know what they are doing. I feel more like a guest than a tourist.
Zubaida, Habib and Sanjukta did a great job helping me celebrate my birthday. In the morning, they sang and, in the evening, we ate our together dinner in Habib and Zubaida’s suite and then had some desert. Many of the participants wished me a happy birthday. I felt well cared for and it was good day!
I plan on leaving the college campus on Monday to go to the communities with the participants. I will be going to the Chengalpattu area (where I briefly took a day trip before – See ). This means that I will not have internet access until Wednesday.