Fellows

IMG00610-20120627-1835

Ride of your life

Two weeks ago, a friend in Pakistan passionately claimed that Bombay is the most exciting city in the world. Although I mostly agreed, I quickly realized that excitement wears multiple faces, as 3 near-catastrophes unfolded 24 hours within my arrival here: first a bicycle side-clip by my taxi from the airport, then a fender-bender going to work, and finally a near (i.e., 12 inches short) head-on bus collision by my rickshaw driver.

Fortunately, everyone walked away safely, this time. Tragically, however, 114,000 people each year never walk away at all: In India, at least 13 people die every hour on the road. The country has the highest rate of accidents – 35 per 1,000 vehicles compared to the world average of 4 – resulting in more Indians dying than from HIV, malaria, and cholera combined.

For this reason, 1298 Ambulance – the social enterprise I am working with this summer – has launched one of the country’s first ambulance services, with the Gandhi-inspired philosophy that
Saving a life is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can undergo.
Over the past 7 years, they’ve amassed a fleet of rewards, launching 860 ambulances and transferring over 1 million patients.

Despite this success, suffering (and death) seem to be an inescapable reality of life here.

Three days into my project, I wondered aimlessly around the emergency room of a public hospital in Central Mumbai. Surrounded by pain, I speechlessly returned to the stretcher that carried Sweta Sendil, a 29-year-old teacher whose relatives dialed 1298 after she had a kidney failure. Only one year older than me, and yet she was given a 2-3 year life expectancy.

These are the days where heaven does not seem so close. Days where it seems that no matter how much you sacrifice, it’ll never be enough. Days that test whether you can really sustain a life dedicated to alleviating injustice without disconnecting from the associated suffering.

Although I’m not sure answers exist, these are questions and emotions that I’m hoping to explore further this summer. Most likely from the backseat of a 1298 Ambulance.

—-

Benje Williams was an Acumen Fund Fellow ’11, where he worked with Pharmagen Healthcare Limited. He is currently an MBA Candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Comments

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]