The Deshpande Foundation at the Hubballi Sandbox and the Tata Center for Innovation + Design at MIT have a legacy of productive partnerships. Over the last decade several cutting edge innovations like low-cost soil testing technology, developed at MIT’s labs have been piloted and validated in the fertile testing ground provided by the Hubballi Sandbox.
Building on this strong relationship, the Sandbox hosted fellows from the Tata Center at MIT and IIT-Bombay for a 5-day immersive Orientation program from Aug 4th to 9th, facilitating learning about the different social impact initiatives implemented here. The group of 23 fellows saw hot nutritious meals being cooked for 1.5 million school children at Akshaya Patra; learnt how the Foundation’s rain-water harvesting ponds are multiplying rural incomes; gained insights into our malnutrition eradication program and also visited partner organizations’ such as SELCO (solar lighting for urban slums), BAIF (Wadi method of converting waste land into fruit orchards), Sankalpa Rural Development Society (permanent borewell recharge), Manuvikasa (water conservation in the biodiversity hotspot of the Western Ghats) and Save A Mother (health education to new and to-be mothers). They also visited Deshpande Educational Trust’s new facility which is India’s largest skill development center, running multiple employment training programs.
Fellows were struck by the tremendous diversity of rural India and the beautiful lush green natural landscapes, especially near the Western Ghats. Due to the well-planned itinerary, they learned about many high-impact programs in a short span of time, with the opportunity to directly interact with multiple stakeholders – farmers, mothers, children, program officers and organization leaders. In particular, fellows were impressed by the quality processes put in place by Akshaya Patra and were visibly appreciating the taste of the hot rice and vegetable sambar that they saw being prepared in massive cookers. The skill development program also struck a chord given the large numbers of Indian youth entering the workforce and the scale of DET’s efforts in providing them with secure employment.
The 5-day trip created much camaraderie and bonhomie among the visiting group and staff from DF Hubballi and both sides look forward to strengthening this relationship with cross-pollination of ideas and projects.