My name is Jaira Sona Chin. I founded the Sona Pushkar Project in the summer of 2016 when I was 21. I live in Amsterdam, where I am studying International Studies, specialising in the development of South and South East Asia. When I was travelling in India for the first time, I met four boys who were begging on the streets in Pushkar. The boys lived in an underprivileged community in self made tents in the desert. None of the adults ever went to school and they all lacked income and basic life needs. Shortly after I went back to Holland, I felt the urge to make a change.
In three years time, I almost spent as much time with the families in Pushkar as in Amsterdam. Together with the boys whom I met in 2016, we have accomplished great things. In three years, we have sent 40 children to school, built a project center called the Blue House, employed parents, stopped child marriages and moved families into a home.
My project emphasizes a labor centred approach to development, that is undertaken by 'the poor' themselves. I don't work with a team of foreigners, but I closely work with locals from Pushkar and people from the community itself. I don't want this NGO to come across as an 'western enlightened actor' that carries out actions for the poor. The way that the poor are portrayed in development discourse is as the 'disempowered' who need to be empowered by foreign intervention. The goal is to make this community develop as a whole, with as little interference and dependance as possible.