Paul Colombini

Paul Colombini (Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group): Paul graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a BA in art history and a BS in international business. He also taught English abroad for several years, first in Japan and then in China. At the time of his fellowship, Paul was studying for a Masters in international development at The American University in Washington, DC. After his fellowship, Paul wrote: "This experience helped me understand India and Indian society and also gave me a greater appreciation of the enormous difficulties of development and grassroots efforts in particular."

Heading Home

13 Aug

The fall semester at American University is fast approaching, and my time with the wastepickers of Delhi has come to an end, for now. I spent a total of three months working at the Chintan Environmental Research & Action group, May 25th – August 15th 2008. During that period I feel satisfied with having accomplished a lot for on-line advocacy on the behalf of Delhi’s wastepickers. The list of the projects I completed includes:

– Filming over 20 interviews with wastepickers from around Delhi and posting them on the sight I created:

– Starting a group called “Support the Wastepickers” which now has over 250 members to date

– Maintaining this Advocacy Project Blog, which has now been quoted on a number of environmental and human rights websites, as well as other Blogs

– Writing a number of articles which I hope to get published upon my return to Washington, DC

– Assisting Chintan staff with technical issues and also by putting up job advertisements for them on

– Writing a 19-page Chintan Web Manual that gives detailed instructions for how to maintain the sites I created

– Arranging at last, this past week, for a group of wastepickers from Takia Kale Khan colony to come into the Chintan offices, where they were able to watch videos of themselves on the internet and learn how to use

Although I accomplished many things here, I feel that I have gained much more from the experience than I gave. Through my coworkers and the wastepickers I learned about subjects ranging from the intricacies of Indian dining to the complexities of urban waste management. Above all I gained a humbling appreciation for the challanges of life in developing countries and for the people who strive to make this world a better place.

Lastly, I’d like to send heartfelt thanks to all of you who have tuned in and all those who will in the future. Thank you for making this possible.

– Paul Colombini, August 2008

Above: As an Advocacy Project Fellow my mission this summer was to raise awareness of the issues facing Delhi’s wastepickers. I devised the above “Advocacy Web” to draw the most attention to the wastepickers using the internet sites I created on Facebook and Youtube as well as newspaper articles and forums.

Above: Chintan co-workers Sayantani, Anupama and Fouzia demonstrate their always-warm smiles and kindhearted nature at work, and which I will miss when I go home. Below: Yours truly, signing off from Delhi, India. (Photo by Mackenzie Berg)

Posted By Paul Colombini

Posted Aug 13th, 2008


  • Mackenzie

    August 13, 2008


    It’s not only been a pleasure being your colleague, but I couldn’t have asked for a more easy-going, fun, knowledgeable person to spend the summer with in such interesting places!

    Thanks so much for all your support, and I’m SO excited for your hard work to continue getting exposure- you’ve accomplished some fantastic projects here.

    and….I’m really going to miss my daily EncycloPaulia lessons. And watching you eat kabobs. 😀

    Best of luck sir…

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