Mohd Zahid of India describes his time at Coady International Institute as “a great experience.”
“I have had a great opportunity to explore myself,” he said, noting the process has included working on his “leadership style.”
“It has given me a reconfirmation of the importance of my work.”
That ‘work’ is as team leader with Self-Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action (SRIJAN), which as his Coady profile outlines, is “a national level resource agency committed to developing and replicating unique and innovative community-owned sustainable livelihood models leading to dignity for all.”
He has been with SRIJAN for more than five years.
“I have promoted different livelihood activities through women-led, community institutions of vulnerable tribes in the central part of India,” Zahid said.
“I’m also involved in project development, fund mobilization, donor relations, organization development and convergence with government.”
He added the NGO “promotes community-owned livelihood models,” while focussing on “economic, social and cultural change.”
Zahid noted he works with 5,000 families, focussing on community-based horticulture projects, which include crop staples, such as organic mango and guava.
Women also collect wild fruit in the forest corridors, which are made into pulp and sold to ice cream companies.
“Definitely – seeing their dedication to their communities brings me a lot of satisfaction,” Zahid said of his work.
“It drives me.”
When asked about his path to the St. F.X. campus, he reflected on its “long-term relationship” with SRIJAN, including Yogesh Ghore, a former member of his organization, who is now a senior program staff member with Coady.
Zahid said he looked forward to learning more about the Antigonish Movement.
“I was inspired to see it,” he added of the roots of Coady, which focus on “strengthening local economy.”
Zahid said he has learned much here, including plenty from his diploma program colleagues from around the world.
“We deal with similar issues,” he added, noting the common lesson of “living together with respect.”
Noting he is one of the youngest diploma participants, Zahid said he has gained “a lot of experience.”
“I also think I have become a little bit more gender sensitive,” he added, noting his increased knowledge of issues, globally, affecting females.
Zahid, who is in Canada for the first time, praised everyone, including Coady, St. F.X. and Antigonish, for the warm welcome.
“I feel the smell of inclusivity,” he said, noting Antigonish’s high level of diversity and respect.
As a sign of that, Zahid, who is Muslim, said he does his Friday prayers at the St. F.X. Chapel on campus.
“Everything has been amazing,” he said.