| Jennifer Leason with the tribal women in Chakradharpur. Telgraph picture
Jamshedpur, March 7: Twenty-one-year-old Jennifer Leason is not just another foreign visitor interested in clicking photographs of poor tribals and displaying those at exhibitions to win accolades.
An intern with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a government-supported organisation, Leason travelled all the way to a remote tribal-dominated area to study the subject of her choice.
Leason arrived in Chakradharpur in West Singhbhum district a month ago to study the difference between the local development models for improving the life of indigenous people in Jharkhand and Canada.
During her month-long stay at Chakradharpur with Ekjut, a non-government organisation (NGO) involved in uplift of adivasis, particularly women, Leason was impressed with the grassroots approach of the state government that involves private participation.
The most important conclusion I have drawn from my interaction with villagers is that community development is possible only if it involves public participation, said the 21-year-old.
The model in Canada is just opposite to this, she said.
The government and outside agencies in Canada try to solve the problems of the indigenous people. Their efforts have been unsuccess-ful primarily because it has been top-down (from the government to the people) and did not include the community. Good intentions often result in poor results as it depends on external and non-sustainable solutions, said Leason.
Praising the role of private participation in commu- nity development, she said organisations like Ekjut and Pradan, an NGO part- nering with Ekjut, which use inclusive method for women empowerment, should be adopted by the Canadian government.
Only through inclusive approach and continuous involvement of beneficiaries at the planning level can we make a real difference, said Leason.
Leason said she would take up the matter of adoption of Jharkhands model of grassroots involvement in her hometown. I would share my experience of interaction with tribal women with government agencies in Canada and try to get this development scheme implemented there.
She would also try and make arrangement with local NGOs there to work for skill and ability development of persons as done by Ekjut in Jharkhand.
I feel that Canada should also adopt the system of soft loans to self-help groups through financial institutions, she added.