This past summer, fellow KAT, Emma Taylor (3rd year), and I interned for the startup, Ayzh, in Chennai, India for two months. Ayzh is a social venture that designs appropriate technology for women in resource poor areas. Their signature product, JANMA, is a clean birth kit comprised of components advised by the World Health Organization to ensure a clean and safe birth. Some of the products are as simple as a sanitation wipe, but these easy solutions can be the key difference between a healthy pregnancy, or infection and very commonly, death.
Emma and I worked directly with Ayzh’s business development associate and we could see how what we worked on directly complimented the bigger picture. Through this, we were able to learn about how a startup works, its struggles, and ways in which one can grow and measure its impact.
Living in Chennai was a slightly different experience from Charlottesville. We ran from air conditioned building to air conditioned building to evade the extreme humidity and 100+ degree temperatures, and we drank more water in a day than I do in a typical week. Our other rejuvenators of choice were the freshly cut coconuts served from stands on every street corner. They’re served with a straw and after drinking the coconut water, we would hand it back for it to be cut in half and the meat carved out for us. It became a favorite daily, sometimes twice daily, ritual. At the end of our work- day, we would retire back to our all-female hostel, either by foot or via a “tuc- tuc”, a small, open air, yellow, three wheeled auto, and enjoy some food made by the hostel owners. A common dish is a rice dosa and lentil samba, which is a type of thin pancake made from rice paste that is used to eat the lentil-based soup with.
On the weekends, Emma and I were able to travel and see more of India’s wide variety of cultures. Our time there certainly wasn’t enough to even skim the surface of all of the diverse ways of life found there, but we still learned an amazing amount about how differently other people can live. It was eye opening to say the least and an experience I am so grateful for. Our visas last 10 years, so maybe we’ll be back!
Garland Mooney, ‘17