Meet Dola Mohapatra: National Director for ChildFund India
ChildFund welcomed Dola Mohapatra last December as the new national director for ChildFund India. Dola has worked with ChildFund since October 1992. Before joining ChildFund, his previous experience included working with youth groups and organizing literacy classes for adults. Dola grew up in India and went to school in Orissa, in the eastern part of India, where he studied literature and social work.
What do you enjoy most about working for ChildFund and why?
The opportunity to meet with many people from various countries, especially the communities where you get to know them and connect directly is what I enjoy more.
My personal passion since my school days was to meet with diverse groups of people. ChildFund provided a perfect opportunity for me to enjoy something that I truly love to do. I have been lucky to have met and worked with people from various cultures, settings, geography and regions.
ChildFund has given me the opportunity to work for children in diverse situations. To be able to serve and work in all these situations has been one of my greatest privileges in ChildFund. Thanks to ChildFund, I have been able to build relationships with colleagues, co-workers and communities internationally.
Since starting to work at ChildFund in 1992, what is the greatest change you have seen?
We have come a long way in our thinking and practice. While we have always been child focused, our thinking and learning about a child’s development in her/his immediate environment has undergone change.
We do not simplistically feel that we can serve children well by just giving some material services. This has been one of the significant changes I would say. The participatory program design and the concept of child and youth empowerment are some things we should be proud of.
The other change I feel is about people. The relationship is still there but we are also balancing that with professionalism. We have been able to apply stricter compliance norms and our performance standards have improved overall.
In moving around and meeting new people for your job, what place is the most memorable and why?
I cannot single out any particular place. I find the single thread that runs across all places is the human bond and affection everywhere.
It may be New York (after 9/11) or East Timor or Angola or Afghanistan, or any other community elsewhere – there is warmth, pure affection and human feelings. I have enjoyed every bit of this bond and relationship in all locations.
If I have to single out one place, my experience in Afghanistan may stand out most strongly. Afghanistan people, though ravaged with war and destruction, are one of the most hospitable and generous groups I have ever seen. One can feel the warmth and self-pride in all Afghans in spite of all odds.
Spending a night in a refugee camp with the commander, who provided us with food, a place to stay and treatment, demonstrated the height of relationship and hospitality. Though we were there to ‘help’ the refugees, I felt we were the ones who needed ‘help.’