Property manager Paul Wong Kah-ming was shocked at the primitive living conditions in the western Indian village of Chitrod, so he decided to put his business skills to work and do something to help. Along with seven other executives and 14 undergraduates, he rolled up his sleeves and spent 10 days in the small village near the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to find out the needs of the Maldhari population. 'They are not well aware of hygiene. There are no toilets at all,' he said. 'Flies often flit around. It is much worse than I expected.' The team suggested the Maldharis set up a co-operative to improve their living conditions and income - most households live on 20,000 to 50,000 rupees (HK$3,500 to HK$8,800) a year. 'They have very rich natural resources and the landscape there is breathtaking. So it has a good potential to be developed into a tourist attraction,' said Mr Wong, who got involved in the project as part of the Young Leaders' Programme of the Global Institute for Tomorrow. Mr Wong's employer, the MTR Corporation, nominated him to join the programme. In their plan, farmers and cattle herdsmen can buy and sell goods in bulk through their co-operative to save costs and it will also act as a consultancy to 2,000 local people. 'All the profit then goes to the co-operative jointly owned by the villagers,' said Mr Wong, who worked for the project from 8am to midnight every day. Education is another facet of the co-operative's work. 'In Chitrod, children only receive up to lower-form secondary schooling,' Mr Wong said. 'By setting up a scholarship, more students can further their studies in cities and then contribute to their home town when they grow up.' The Chitrod people had become actively involved with the process. 'They try to solve their own problems and look for opportunities for themselves,' he said. Before the visit, Mr Wong said he had just expected to learn about leadership. But he soon realised much more was involved. 'We are very fortunate to be living in an affluent society, but we should not neglect those striving hard to make ends meet,' he said.