We asked everyone at GTS to test an activity we’ve designed for our marketing book (My Secondhand Shoes). The task was simple: make an advertisement. This is what our talented team of artists and designers came up with in 20 minutes!
Be! skill: Communication
Tara, Afreen and Razia are best friends who live in Khojpur village. They have a top secret detective club (shh! you can’t tell anyone else) and solve mysteries in their village.
One day, the three girl detectives decide to take the long way home from school so that they can swing from the branches of their favourite tree. But when they get near the tree, they see a large crowd causing a big commotion with lots of shouting.
They edge closer to the crowd and see that the field where the buffaloes usually graze is flooded with water. A fight is going on between an engineer and the rest of the villagers.
The engineer insists he was told to build a water tank in this field. But the sarpanch (village head) argues that he was supposed to build it on the other side of the tree. The argument goes on and on. Tara, Afreen and Razia look on curiously and then turn towards each other. It’s time for a new case: The Mystery of the Water Tank.
After speaking to everyone in the village, they discover that this is a case of miscommunication. Everyone they talk to has a different understanding of the situation and messages have gotten distorted as they were passed from person to person. Will the three girl detectives get to the bottom of this mystery and figure out what communication failures led to the misunderstanding about the water tank? Who was right—the engineer or the sarpanch? Find out when this Be! book comes out.
The first book in our Be! series is an adventurous and inspiring journey to meet entrepreneurs across India—told through a series of postcards sent by a young man named Jeevan to his sister in the village.
As a young boy, Jeevan is enchanted with photos. They catch forever, in a still moment, people’s hopes and memories. Photos tell stories.
Jeevan harbors a secret dream of opening a small photo studio in his village. But his parents tell him, “Cameras are just toys.” And a business is just too risky. When he finishes school, they decide that he will work for the Indian Railways. But Jeevan never forgets his love of photography; he buys a secondhand camera and takes pictures everywhere he goes.
Through his travels across the country, he discovers people who have started businesses and have found innovative ways of solving problems in their lives. In short, he discovers that entrepreneurs are everywhere—from Raghav, a boy who starts dance classes on the beach, to a fisherman who uses a mobile phone to find the best prices for his fish. Jeevan mails these photographs to his school-going sister Sarita in the form of postcards, along with encouragement to follow her dreams.
With Jeevan’s postcards as inspiration, Sarita finishes school and becomes a teacher in the village and continues to inspire young boys and girls with stories about entrepreneurs across India.
Be! skill: documentation and intellectual property
Madhur lives in a village surrounded by big green forests. Every morning, his grandfather takes him on walks among the giant trees and teaches him about the magical plants and trees that can be used to create natural medicines. Madhur loves these early morning lessons but as he grows older, the forests start to disappear and so does his sense of wonder. He longs for a different kind of life in the city.
After he finishes school, he moves to a nearby town but city life is not at all like he had imagined. Madhur sees that people have lots of health problems because of poor sanitation, nutrition and housing in the city. Healthcare is expensive and hard to access. At the same time, he sees that people who have moved to the city have lost touch with traditional knowledge and ways of healing. Although he knows that tribal medicine is not the cure to everything, he sees worth in his grandfather’s lessons. He wonders what will happen once his grandfather’s memories fade. Who will remember to cure using the plants and trees from the forest? And if no one remembers, who will care about the ever-decreasing forests?
Madhur realizes that documenting knowledge is the first step to building a trade around tribal medicine–one that will provide economic opportunities for young people in his village and help save the forests.
But his grandfather believes that knowledge cannot be owned or sold. Will Madhur be able to convince his grandfather and other village elders to support him?
Will he be able to create a trade—and opportunities for people in his village?
And who will own the knowledge he collects?
Seher, age 19, and her sister Zainab, age 13, live with their father in an unauthorized slum because of which, have no water, no toilets and no electricity. When night falls, Seher and Zainab only have the dim glow of an old kerosene lamp to live by and when the oil runs out they are left in complete darkness. Zainab can’t finish her homework and Seher who runs a tiffin business for people who go to offices can’t prepare the food. Their father is a carpenter and he used to go to the city to find work but gradually, the amount of work reduced to the point that now, he spends the whole day sitting in his chair and staring out of the window. Seher has the responsibility of earning money and ensuring that Zainab doesn’t drop out of school, like many other girls in the slum.
Everyday when Zainab goes to school, Seher has to line up with the other women from the slum to buy kerosene so that life doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. They wait long hours–sometimes not getting any kerosene at all because the shopkeeper has a dishonest arrangement with the deceitful slumlord Bhali Masi. He raises the fixed prices of kerosene when he begins to run low or doesn’t open the shop at all. Seher is fed up of this daily routine and when her kerosene lamp breaks again, it’s for the last time.
“Isn’t there another way we could get light without standing in line for hours?” she asks Taar babu, the electrician, when she goes to get the lantern repaired. Taar babu shows her an ad in the newspaper for solar light – it is possible to charge batteries using the light of the sun and use them to run solar lamps. Seher and Zainab set out to learn more about how they can have solar lights in their slum —all the while they are followed by 15 year old Neeraj, a school boy, who always keeps a close watch on Seher to make sure she is safe.
Seher is crushed when she finds out how expensive solar panels and lamps are and thinks she will never be able to afford it for the slum.
But just as they turn to go home, Zainab tells her sister she wants Chinese noodles “but there is no stall with Chinese food in this market”. Seher notices that not only is there no Chinese food stall but the street vendors too use kerosene lamps to light up their stall. She begins to cook up a plan that will bring solar light to their slum while also supporting her family so that Zainab can stay in school. But will Seher’s persistence be enough to bring solar light to her slum? How will she get people to switch from kerosene lamps to solar powered one? What will Bhali Masi, the dishonest slumlord, do if Seher starts taking business away? And will Chinese noodles light up the night in a slum with no electricity?
Find out by reading this book when it comes out later this year.
Be! Skill: Building, maintaining & using relationships. The power of social connections and networks.
The village of Sambandhpur is buzzing with excitement.
A mela (carnival) is coming to a nearby village and it is all Bijali, age 10, and her best friend Pankhuri hear everyone talking about.
Bijali asks her dadi (grandmother) if she can go to the mela, her dadi agrees but when she rushes to see if Pankhuri can go too, her parents refuse. Pankhuri, like Bijali, does not go to school and has to stay home and do housework. Bijali promises to tell Pankhuri about everything they see at the mela.
And so Bijali, and a line of women, go to the nearby village.
And it is just as marvelous, magical and wonderful as she could imagine.
When she gets home she goes straight to Pankhuri to tell her all about the mela. But she realizes telling her friend about it is not enough. Pankhuri is so sad she missed it. Bijali decides if Pankuri can’t go to the carnival, she will bring the carnival to Pankhuri.
Bijali calls him on the phone but he says he will only bring the carnival to her village if 200 people say they will come. He tells Bijali she must bring him proof, which means Bijali needs to get 200 signatures.
Broken-hearted Bijali tells her grandmother what the mela manager said. And Bijali’s grandmother answered, “Well then, let’s see how many people you do know!” Bijali’s journey to build relationships begins. She begins with who she knows – her mother, father, grandmother, and who they know. And slowly, one by one, she collects signatures. As Bijali networks her way through her village she becomes more confident talking to people. All she must do is think of reasons why each person would want the mela to come.
Bijali’s older brother is not happy that his younger sister is going all around the village talking to everyone and he forbids her from leaving the house.
Will Bijali get enough signatures before the mela passes by her village?
Will the mela manager keep his word?
Will she fulfill her wish of Pankuri seeing a real carnival?
This delightful tale of stitching social connections together is set in rural Gujarat. The book will be out later this year.