Author Archives: Saath

Housing Rights and urban poor

In the last month a mass demolition was carried out by the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) near Morbi Road behind Jay Jawan Jay Kishan Society due to which 65 families lost their house in the heavy monsoon season. The land belongs to RMC and the place is popularly known as Mafatiyaparu. Since last 35 years the affected families had been living there with all residential documentary evidence. Majority of the community people are daily wage earners. On 12th March 2014 community received a notice under Town Planning Act and was asked to vacate the encroached land. Two or three families just kept this notice with them while others visited the local counsellor for help.  The counsellor then submitted a request letter to local elected MLA. From the counsellor the community got the message that the families who will demolish their houses voluntarily will receive dwelling unit from the RMC. However, no written commitment or legal steps had been followed. RMC had followed the due legal procedure and send last notice. Finally, in the month of August 2014 RMC did the mass demolition (30 families had voluntarily demolished their house while rest of the houses were demolished by RMC)

IMG-20140827-WA0028Demolition Site

Saath’s Housing rights projects Rajkot team received this news through local newspaper and visited the site for fact finding. The affected community had aksed help and guidance from the team. The team drafted a request letter and submitted it to the Rajkot commissioner. At that time commissioner did not given positive response and instead of providing housing to the people he asked rent of the RMC land which they had used in last 35 years and used humilitative words for the community. Our team members tried to explain the poor condition of the community and then the commissioner suggested to apply for EWS and LIG housing scheme under Mukhya Mantri Awash Yojana (again this is not affordable to people).

IMG-20140829-WA0009Community Meeting

Since the community had not followed the due legal process after receiving the notice, we realised that filing case in the court was not an effective strategy. Another strategy was planned to raise this issue at the nation level through National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPC). However, local political leaders took some interest and divided the community. Because of political intervention we took our step back, but kept eye on each action with the help of local leaders. Meanwhile, team did regular dialogues with the commissioner. On 16th September the commissioner gave positive response and verbally committed that the 30 families who had voluntarily demolished their houses will receive dwelling under BSUP scheme and suggested to meet Alpana Mitra (civil Engineer – RMC) for the same. Alpana Mitra has given positive response, and asked to do survey of all 65 families and that they will try to allocate housing to all the affected families. For us this is one of the major achievements that by we succeed to protect housing rights of the 65 families.

Breaking the Gender Stereotype

Through its Nirman project Saath has been working towards breaking the gender stereotypes regarding work. Through its Nirman project Saath has trained over 96 women as Masons. Saath has also started training women as Electricians a trade predominantly male and considered unconventional for women. Recently we have started speacial batches for training female electricians and have trained over 18 women as Electricians and given below is the story of Ashwini Parmar one of the Nirman trainee of the electrician batch in her own words.

There are seven members in my family which includes my mother, 2 sisters and 1 New Picture (2)brother and my uncle and aunt. My father passed away 10 years ago. My mother does housework, my uncle has a private job and we get pension of my grandfather through which we are able to earn Rs. 8,000 per month. I being the eldest child in my family had to become responsible at very young age.

I was always interested in working as an electrician and used to do small repair works within my home. When I came to know about the Nirman electrician training programme I decided to join it and got full support from my family to join the course. I learned a lot during the training and thoroughly enjoyed the course. In the future I want to start a small business on my own and currently will do some small electrician’s work within my neighbourhood.

IMG-20140812-WA0000Ashwini at the Nirman Centre

Through Nirman and Saath I also got an opportunity to travel and attend a workshop in Delhi where I got to meet other women like me who like me are doing jobs that are considered unconventional for women. These women are doing incredibly good and their strength and passion has also inspired me. The workshop was also a great exposure and an amazing learning experience that I will never forget.

Currently I’ve got a job working in Divya Bhaskar. Along with it I’ve been selected as a faculty in Nirman to teach the electrician course to other women joining the training. I’m really thankful to Saath and Nirman for putting so much trust and faith in me and I will do my best to meet up their expectations.

A memorable experience with SAATH :)

 Stuti Wadhwa is currently pursuing her Media studies from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications. She did her summer internship with Saath’s Research, Documentation and Communication Cell and given below is her experience with Saath in her own words.

My internship with SAATH has been incredibly wonderful. I never expected it to 10380304_10201371538085286_8979842940923944221_n be so exciting. I made new friends, had wonderful mentors to guide me throughout and also got a lot of exposure to learn.The general working atmosphere here at SAATH is so good and family like that I could very easily get absorbed here. My internship was only 6 weeks long,but was sufficient to develop a wonderful bond with all the people here at SAATH. My internship started with a basic orientation about the programs being run by SAATH post which, I was taken to visit the centres so that I could understand each program better. I also interacted with the community people and that was like adding icing to the cake, as I got a chance to hear about their experience from them itself. I was initially given the job of documentation of annual report and designing of the brochure of SAATH. It was a big responsibility and I took it as a challenge to accomplish.Around two weeks later; I was told to volunteer for a yearlong campaign being run by SAATH called Meghdhanush.

I was excited and gave in my inputs for the launch of the campaign. I was eventually given the responsibility of organizing the event under the guidance of Ms.VamaRajpal and Mr.NirajJani. This was surely a big challenge. We first had to look for a venue and so, approached various hotels for the same. Courtyard Marriott agreed to sponsor us for the launch of the campaign and this was amazing news for all of us. I had also gone to another hotel and fortunately, received a positive response from there too. They told us that they wish to collaborate with us on a long term basis. This was a big achievement for SAATH as well as me, as I never expected that I could get sponsors for the event. It immensely helped boost my self- confidence. We then called the kids, and the entire SAATH team put in their heart and soul to teach them, so they could perform well on the d-day. Also, I along with a co-intern was given the duty of compering the event. I was glad as I have always loved compering and SAATH gave me an opportunity to do that.

DSC_0111Stuti hosting the Meghdhanush event

It felt great when the kids whom I was teaching dance, got a perfume for me. I was very touched as they all came from vulnerable households but still, they contributed and got this very precious gift for me. This made me feel so special and loved.

On the day of the event, all the kids gave breath-taking performances. We were all spellbound. The campaign ended on a positive note and was a big success for all of us as the guests appreciated our hard work. After the event, I again started working on the annual report and social media promotion and now, the day has come when I have to leave.

These six weeks have been very memorable and enjoyable for me. I have made great friends in just 6 weeks and also, have had such great mentors. I would specially like to thank Kunal Sir, Irbaaz, Vama Ma’am, Jenny Ma’am, Niraj Sir and Keren Ma’am for being there to guide me throughout. I am also grateful to my fellow interns for giving me a wonderful surprise on my birthday and for making it so special. I never expected my internship to be so good.

I personally feel that SAATH is contributing wonderfully to the society; particularly to the underprivileged and downtrodden, and I felt vastly privileged to have got an opportunity to make my humble contribution to the society.

Even though my internship has formally come to an end, I would forever be there to assist SAATH wherever I can.

Empowering vulnerable youth through entrepreneurship training

30 years old Ms. Ranjan Solanki is a resident of Kosad area of Surat and is a member of Saath’s Youth Force initiative. She has taken micro entrepreneurship through the programme and now earns Rs. 3,500 per month.

Ranjan used to live in Ashoknagar, Katargam area of Surat, where she and her New Picture (3)husband ran a grain shop. They were very happy in the area and their business was running good. When the Surat Municipal Corporation decided to demolish their slum area, they were promised to give new house in other area. After the demolition they were provided a house in the Kosad area which is at quite far from the city centre. Due to this Ranjan and her husband lost their business, and Ranjan was left with a lot of other issues as well due to shifting in the outskirts of the city.

The main issue faced was of livelihood. They had lost their business and did not know what to do. The financial problems also started as they were using up their savings very fast. During this time Ranjan came to know about a micro entrepreneur training organised by Youth Force and she was advised to join the training. At that time she was not sure about the joining the training but Shital the youth leader convinced her by explaining the importance of training for her future.

She spoke with her husband about the training and he said to her to join the training program. The training program lasted for 4 days and she was very happy with the knowledge she gained during the sessions. She got an idea to start a new business. Before the training she used to work in hospitals and in the houses but wans’t able to earn enough money. Now she has started her own venture and she sells vegetables and is able to earn Rs. 3,500 per month. She is now in a better position to support her family.

Talking about her experience she says, “I am thankful to Youth Force for giving me training through which I gained enough confidence of starting my own business and now I want to move ahead in life. I want to grow my business and I am planning for the future. I am very happy that I am also contributing to my family. Our life is now slowly coming back on track. Saath is doing very good work which is really helpful to people everywhere. Thank you Saath.”

Connecting Children with Education

Saath runs Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) classes for providing education and nutrition support to children at construction sites. Here’s story Mohanbhai whose children study at one of the CFS classes.

Mohanbhai comes from Galiyapor village and has been working in Ahmedabad since last 3 years. He does plastering work at the construction sites. He and his wife work at the construction sites and they have 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy who are living with them at the sites.

DSC_0004Mohanbhai with his family

Mohanbhai’s girls are Divya (9 year old) and Shilpa (10 year old) and his son is Kishan (8 year old). They are in contact with the Child Friendly Spaces classes run by Saath at the construction sites since past 3 years where first his children used to attend the classes run at Naroda sites and now are attending the classes run in Vasna sites. He is very happy seeing the change in his children and says that before they didn’t know anything, but now are learning very fast and are able to write words in English and Gujarati and his girls especially are very good in reading. He regularly sends his children for the classes and his wife is very happy about the nutrition support provided to their children at the classes. After coming in touch with the classes he has enrolled his children in the school of their village and whenever they go back to village the children study there.

DSC_0062Mohanbhai’s children studying at the CFS class

“My children are getting good education here, and I wish that at all the sites these kind of classes should be run for our children. Saath should continue to work for the education of children at the construction sites as many parents here are not capable enough to send their children to school”, says Mohanbhai.