Mr. James Mascarenhas, knows as Jimmy to his friends, was born on September 30,1952 in Kolar. He had his early education in St. Anthony’s High School and he took his B.Sc.[Agri] degree from UAS Bangalore in 1973. First he worked for Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) and then for two tea companies before he joined NGO sector. He worked for 9 years in MYRADA from 1983-1992 concentrating on drought prone areas. He always had special consideration for mainstreaming those who were economically poor. Building village level organizations and participatory resource management were his passions. In the early 1990s, Jimmy had established an international reputation as a resource person in the application of Participatory Rural Appraisal [PRA] in the wide range of contexts from situation analysis to micro-planning to monitoring and evaluation. Jimmy was associated with the department of International Development (UK) and Government of Karnataka ‘Renewable natural resources’ project as part of the project design team.
It was in June 1992, that the idea of OUTREACH, as an NGO took shape with Jimmy and his two colleagues as the founders. Jimmy’s vision of OUTREACH as an NGO was that it would adopt a different approach and play pivotal role in capacity building of small NGOs. To support himself and his two colleagues, he worked as a consultant taking up training assignments, appraisals and impact assessments of donor funded projects on request. He strongly felt besides training and capacity building of NGOs, the donors, government departments and researchers should also be enlightened about community participation in development processes and hence introduced the participatory methods and techniques in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluation, where the community was involved at all stages. This approach played a very important role in the project management, and was appreciated by the people involved.
Success and appreciations induced him trying innovative ideas and making possible, the impossible. The mere presence of Jimmy would facilitate a wide range of ideas and discussions. The personality and commitment of Jimmy earned him recognition far and wide at the international levels and through him to the organization. This saw an inflow of experienced persons willing to work for OUTREACH and be a part of the new development approach initiated by him.
Apart from the commitment, leadership qualities and awesome personality, he was a very simple human being and was easily approachable. People working with him could discuss new ideas including their personal problems which he would listen to with utmost interest at any time of the day. The most important quality he possessed was his sympathetic understanding of the difficulties of his colleagues and go out of the way to find a solution to their problems.
Though he is not physically present with us today, his spirit, his ideologies and his vision are with us, which gives us immense strength to carry on the flame of commitment started by him.