Men of class lending hand to mass

Men of class lending hand to mass

Discover, serve and innovate seems to be the motto of the 10 Dow Corning employees who have descended at Ujire with developmental initiatives. The team consisting of members from six nations have bid adieu to their comfort zones with an aim to bring change.

As part of Dow Corning’s second Citizen Service Crops (CSC) project in India, 10 of its employees were shortlisted from more than 60 applications. The team arrived at India on September 15 and will be spending a month in Ujire in Dakshina Kannada district working on a series of high-impact service projects.

The employees have divided themselves in three groups and are working on the improvement of technologies used in areca-nut farming partnering with SDM College, solar energy in association with SELCO and another team has joined hands with SIRI with an aim to have economic empowerment of women through micro-enterprise. Speaking to City Herald, each of the participants revealed their rich Indian experience.

The SELCO team
Bongsik Kim, a business development specialist from Seoul in Korea, Kathryn Messner an associate industry specialist and Warren Draves, a plant operator hailing from Midland in USA are working with SELCO, a social enterprise that works to enhance the quality of life of under-served households through sustainable energy solutions and services.

“Most of the SELCO’s customers have no access to grid electricity or the access they have is very unreliable, making the benefits of sustainable energy solutions even more pronounced. We are trying to evaluate some of the currently available and potential products and also research and assess technologies which are best-suited for use in decentralisied solar applications,” says Kathryn.

Bongsik says that the team has surveyed more than 30 houses that use the solar lighting system. At present, they can light four bulbs and have one electrical output point. “Many people have to be selective on what they want to connect to the point. Some have connected TV, fan, radios and other appliances. However, if one wants to use another appliance, they are forced to disconnect another. It is a frustrating condition that people have mobile phones but no electrical point to charge it,” he says and adds that the research will try to enhance the maximum use of appliances with the power available.

Warren Draves who has worked 25 years in Dow Corning says that his son’s service in Peace Corps inspired him to join the CSC. “I hope to make a small, but positive difference in Ujire through the application of skills and talents I have developed during my career,” he says.

Anne-Lise Girboux, an associate chemist from Belgium, Laura Benetti, a customs and international trade co-ordinator from Midland in USA, Miho Komatsu, a Logistics Manager in Japan and Volker Oehl, a Regional Market Leader from Wiesbaden in Germany have joined hands with  Shree Dharmasthala Gramodyoga Samsthe (SIRI). The group is trying to focus on SIRI’s garment-making enterprise to enhance all faces of the programme, including end-to-end design, supply chain, marketing sales and purchasing.

“SIRI is doing an excellent job. However, it has areas that need improvement. We are presently practicing marketing exercises and trying to take SIRI beyond its present working hence enhancing its improvement,” she says.

Speaking on their Indian experience, Miho says that she loves Indian food and has prepared a checklist on different Indian delicacies she wants to try while in India. Anne is surprised with the varieties one can prepare only with vegetables.

“People in India are extremely friendly,” says Volker who is touched by the Indian hospitality. Miho says that Indian people are very fond of feeding people. “They try to serve in my plate even though I say, I am full,” she smiles.

Laura says that she loves the saree and she has also tried drapping one and Walker is all set to pack home a few Indian spices.

Team SDM
Elsa Chen, a process engineer from China, Brad Fogg a Business Center Manager and Chris Vouaux a technician from USA are working with the students of SDM College and areca nut farmers to research alternative methods of peeling areca nuts.

“We are trying to observe the current machines and methods used to peel areca nuts. Based on the research, the team will develop a proposal for improved methods that may eventually result in new and better machine for the local areca nut farmers,” says Brad who has a strong background in horticulture and farming.

Chris says that he saw the areca nut for the very first time in India. Peeling them manually is a laborious job and the husk in air while de-husking the nuts can cause health problems. “One month is a short time. I would like to design machinery which will be beneficial to the farmers. I would like to stay back in India till the project is implemented,” he adds.

Elsa says that she has seen areca nuts in Japan. “I under took this project as I love helping people,” she says and adds that she wants to learn ‘Indian Yoga’ during her stay.

About Dow Corning
Dow Corning ( provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, Dow Corning offers more than 7,000 products.

The Dow Corning Citizen Service Corps offers Dow Corning employees around the world, hands-on opportunity to expand their understanding of emerging markets and fuel innovation at Dow Corning through service to others.

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