If Parachutes, My Love, Could Carry Us Higher.

Atishay Mathur reflects on what sparked the idea for his TED talk.

The team of community mobilisers who co-created the innovative solution with us.

I borrow the title of my talk from a love poem by Barbara Guest — Parachutes, my love, could carry us higher. It speaks of irrational hope, in times of absolute despair. To me, it also talks of the times that we live in.

The world today faces enormous challenges — that of poverty, hunger, poor healthcare, lack of quality education. While these problems may feel overwhelmingly large, and one might question what an individual might do to address them. But the world we live in today is also getting increasingly innovative. It’s a rapidly changing, technologically advancing world. How can we, as students — the workforce of the future, leverage this creative side and make some stunning levels of difference.

In my TED talk, I give one such personal example — of my work on a maternal health program with populations in parts of India. Where we were talking to a female population of 49 million; 88.71% of which reside in rural spaces and 46.67% of which are illiterate. Where it was culturally frowned upon to openly talk about one’s pregnancy, and where, much to our surprise, in vast areas people didn’t understand the concept of time as you and I do. Where the Gregorian Calendar was an alien concept. How do you ask someone to come back for a follow up check up when their idea of time is different from yours?

I talk about how we tried to creatively overcome these complex challenges (hint: it had something to do with the moon), so that each woman in these populations could timely access basic healthcare interventions. The name of the blog of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is beautifully appropriate — Impatient Optimists, and I believe that’s exactly who we all are.

So, here’s calling all impatient optimist out there, to come, sit back, and hear more about what’s common between — drones, virtual reality headsets, typefaces and saving the world.

And of course — how parachutes, my love, could carry us higher.

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