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Dear Community members of Barkheda,

A hearty Namaskar and welcome to our news letter for Feb 2012. 
This is what is happening at Sreejan!

Excitement….As we informed in our first report, we were happy to expand our family at Sreejan  to include the five SIMPLE trainees(Manohar, Bhura, Manoj, Rajaram and Parvesh) who joined us on 1st Jan. They were sent to Deepak Suchde’s farm at Bajwada for their first training exposure on 8th Jan. Here they spent 7 full days understanding the basics of Natueco farming. They came back quite bewildered and excited. They had never before seen such productivity and healthy plants. They learnt how to make Amrit Matti, they understood importance of biomass, they saw for example how a turmeric plant can grow as tall as six feet carrying 4 kgs of turmeric roots below and they understood why cow urine was so necessary for an organic farmer.

Evaluation…….As per our original plan, each trainee was to be evaluated at the end of the first month-they were supposed to be on a kind of probation. We didn’t want to sit on judgment and so designed an innovative ‘self-cum-peer’ evaluation form so that each one of them could self assess their performance and also give an honest assessment of their own peers on  seven attributes. On a Sunday afternoon, we asked them to sit on judgement and it was very interesting to note that 4 of them rated Parvesh as the most lazy person among their group.
Parting……The decision was clear. Parvesh had to go. However, we asked him to spend a day with Rajinder so that Parvesh could understand why he got such a rating, what he needs to do and Rajinder could explain him why he can’t work with us anymore. The parting was cordial and smooth though painful for him.
Confusions……For some of them, the last 2 months also had moments of confusion and frustration-whether they should continue in this program? Are they wasting their time? What if we ask them to leave after 3 years? They did not like the idea of being away from their homes during night. Two of them even made up their mind to leave the program.

Coaching……Before things could get worse, we were able to timely sense their frustration and intervene. Ravi our site incharge (on right with army cap in the picture) and Mehfuz, a wonderful Sreejan supporter and coach took special care and interest in them. Mehfuz(in the centre with white cap) spent hours of his personal time engaging each one in a one to one conversation and understanding from each one what their issues were. These sessions went on into the middle of the night at times with lots of passion and emotions flowing. We realized that what they are going thru is normal and expected because we have enrolled them into a grand vision which obviously they are not able to comprehend fully as yet.

Some more parting…….At the end of these intense coaching sessions we realized it would be better for Manohar, our best candidate (or so we thought before we started) to move on. It wasn’t that he failed us or we failed him. All conversations were very cordial and not even once did we exchange any blame or complain. He loved everything at Barkheda and still passionately talks about ‘our vision’ but his heart was with the children at Uljhavan School that he used to teach before joining. We decided to part ways although he will always remain Sreejan’s brand ambassador in the local community.
New Joinees……With Parvesh and Manohar gone, we decided to induct 2 more trainees into our program. After some fresh evaluations and considerations, we thought of inducting Sunil(with white shirt on left) and Bhopali into the SIMPLE program. These two have been working at Barkheda for last one year and we found them to be very dedicated and focused. So finally we still have 5 SIMPLE trainees and we hope that all of them are into the program with higher commitment here onwards.

Freezing Training Calendar………We had promised more than 100 man days of training to our SIMPLE trainees to be spread over next 3 years. To ensure that we meet our commitment, a formal class room training calendar for the whole year (Jan to Dec 2012) was discussed and frozen. We intend to cover seven broad themes during these 3 years. The current year’s calendar was designed to at least touch all the seven themes to the extent possible.

Harvest is ready………..Come march/April and we will be ready to harvest wheat. Shall be happy to have all of you around so that we can celebrate Holi together….