Monthly Archives: January 2012

Community Mondays: Joining School

Your daily dose of Saath today contains a story from the community. Neelam, a student at our Child Friendly Space in Vasna, shares her story. Child Friendly Spaces are non-formal school set ups for child-labourers. 

Neelam is an 8-year-old ambitious student at Vasna CFS. The center’s teacher, Jayshreeben, found Neelam selling vegetables in the street and invited her to join the school. She and her three siblings (Roshni, Neena, and Yug) have been attending Vasna CFS center since November 2009.

Neelam Waghela

When Neelam first joined, she did not know how to read and write, and did not like to play with her classmates. She also very much disliked  to speak in class. However, Neelam slowly became more confident and out-going, and now she actively participates in class. Learning reading and writing are her favorite subjects, and she also loves the snacks the teacher gives her.

Her mother Dayaben says that even when she feels very tired after helping with household tasks, she refuses to miss class. Dayaben says about her daughter, “Neelam is very intelligent and hard-working” and she is very confident that Neelam will do well in any formal school. Jayshreeben agrees with Neelam’s mother and pointed out that Neelam is actually ready to go into 3rd standard, but her parents cannot afford the tuition fees.

Given her strong motivation to studying, Neelam’s parents would like her to complete post-secondary school. Neelam said during an interview that she loves everything about her teacher and that in fact she would like to become a teacher herself when she grows up.

Intern Fridays: Shalini’s experience.

On Volunteer Fridays we share stories of our interns and volunteers with you. Today Shalini tells you about her internship at Saath. Shalini studies at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication in Pune. She was part of the RDC team from October to December 2011, where she did a great job. Thanks Shalini!

For one and half month, I worked as an intern at Saath in the Research, Documentation and Communication (RDC) Cell. I am glad to say that every moment spent at Saath had been a lifetime experience for me!

When I was searching for NGOs on internet, I came across many which worked for children, women or disabled in Ahmedabad. But I was searching for an NGO that worked at a larger scale and focused not only at a particular sector of the society but on the familiy and society as a whole. And then I came across Saath! When I visited their profile, I was astonished to see the phenomenal work done by Saath. It was mind boggling to see a grass root level NGO like Saath working in multiple sectors and striving to make society a better place to live in.

I was amazed to see the structure and working of Saath. Their USP is that they not only focus on women or children but on families and society as a whole. The organization is doing great job in terms of upliftment of the poor, underprivileged people in urban and rural areas. According to me, the best part about Saath is that they have a 360 degree approach towards improving the lives of the poor. They offer multiple services like provision of affordable housing, education, employability, awareness about child rights, training centers for employment, Urban Resource centers etc. You name it and they have it!

This internship gave me a golden opportunity to showcase my talent, learn new skills and improve upon the existing skills. It gave me a chance to lend my helping hand towards the society and contribute towards improving its future.

The best part of my internship was when I went to different villages for the case studies and also when I voluntarily spent time with the children in Balghars. I can never forget the smile on their innocent faces when I distributed stationery and food packets among them.

Shalini conducting a case-study (see last monday's post)

This internship not only helped me learn new things at the RDC Cell but also taught me important aspects of life. It gave me hands on practical experience about the society and its shortcomings. Personally I relished my internship throughout at Saath and enjoyed every part of my work, be it official documentation work or on field work. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction that Saath gave me a platform wherein I was able to contribute my bit towards the society I live in. It was a brilliant experience for me.

I extend my sincere thanks to each and everyone I worked with at Saath. Working with you all at Saath was an incredibly splendid experience!

Work Wednesdays: Devuben’s story

On Work Wednesdays we bring you news about our programmes and stories about our people working in the community. For today’s daily dose of Saath this is the story of Devuben Parmar. Devuben is the co-ordinator of the Urban Resource Center in Vasna.

Devuben was born in a traditional family and brought up in a small village called Sapar, near Rajkot. At the age of 21 in 1985 she got married to her husband.
Life after marriage was a bit difficult because in Sapar they faced lot of draught and therefore the farming land was not doing well. Very shortly the business went under because his customers where not paying for the jobs he was doing and was left with a debt.
In 1990 Devuben and her husband decided to move to Ahmedabad in order to clear the debt and for a better life so decided to move to Pravinnager Guptanar, a slum area in Vasna.

Devuben’s first job was making khakras (a Gujarati snack). She stayed in this job for 2 to 3 year. Her monthly salary was low and to make ends meet she even sold her gold to pay off the original debt. Even then they were left with debt because of the interest, which incurred. She took up extra work in order to clear the debt, and joined a sewing class. To pay the fees she did small jobs around the school. As soon as she learnt to sew, she started to receive small jobs from the colony that helped her cover the cost of her household expenses.

She came in contact with Saath when she was pregnant with her first child. Saath was providing nutritional goods for the expectant mother to help nourish the unborn child.
In 1992 Devuben joined Saath as a teacher on the Balghars Programme. This is a programme, which offers young children up to the age of six in the slum areas basic education, health, and nutritional services. When Devuben joined the programme, she lacked enormous confidence; frightened of people around her because she did not feel as if she fitted in well and thought that she cannot speak on their level. However, her desire was to be able to offer a better future for her family one day. Devuben, her husband and her six-month-old daughter lived in rented accommodation in Vasna.
In the beginning it was very difficult to convince the local residents, however she managed to recruit 32 children in the class. Here she worked for almost four years, from which she received good feedback from the local community and people from the area started to see the benefit the education system was having on the young children. The children started receiving educational support and from this, they learnt discipline, cleanliness, numeric, and alphabets.

Rajendra Joshi, founder of Saath saw the impact that Devuben was making on the local community and suggested she got herself involved in the slum Networking Project for Guptanagar where she would gather local the community and talk to them about the upcoming facility they can have i.e. access to clean water, drainage facility, legal electricity etc. In this role, Devuben received a lot of verbal abuse from the local residents where they started to talk about her, and call her all sorts of names, this then resulted in arguments between her and her husband. These arguments went on for a while until he realized what a good job she did for the community.

After all the hard work of daily pursuing the community, Devuben managed to get some people on board and small payments was taken which was in the Seva Trust. Several months went by and no work had been started so people started to put pressure of Devuben and once again rumours started, this time, they were saying that she has taken our money and no work will be done in this area. The information was relayed back to Rajendra Joshi who then put pressure on AMC for the work to start. Soon after, the preparation started and the local community started seeing people from the local government attending the area to measure up and take relevant structural information.

Local women started approaching Devuben for work and useful knowledge, i.e. learn to read and write Guajarati, sewing, computer classes etc. Many women in her area did not leave their homes but having seen what Devuben has achieved, encouraged other women to follow her example. Devuben started a women’s organisation whereby they would come and talk about issues the women are facing. This was being operated with only 13 women from different communities and religion and now they have around 165 women. There were issues ranging from husbands who were addicted to alcohol and gambling to obtaining ration cards and registering birth etc. They would go back to their colony and talk about the support they are receiving to other woman and that is how the awareness was raised.

Devuben does not feel as if she is working, to her, this is her family and life; it is what she enjoys the most. She finds it rewarding and therefore will go out of her comfort zone to support people around her. Devuben’s vision is to be able to offer many slum areas in Ahmedabad the support she has been able to offer over the last 18-years. Increase people’s awareness and responsibility on handling money. She would like to obtain information about the ownership of Guptannagar’s land so residents can purchase where their homes are currently standing. This would help the residents in Vasna to upgrade their homes and have a better long-term future for their families.

Nutan Patel wrote up this story.

Charity Tuesdays: QX Limited’s Charity event

Last August a team from QX Ltd.  visited our Urban Resource Centre in Vasna. QX is a UK based outsourcing company that offers finance and accounts, recruitment and IT solutions. Shomindra Chakravarti, an employee from the Ahmedabad branch of QX, came up with the idea to collect clothes for underprivileged people living in slum areas. In total he and his colleagues have collected six boxes of clothes. Once the goods were collected, they needed someone to make sure the clothes would reach the right place.

To distribute the collected goods, they approached our organization. On their request we organized a meeting at Vasna’s URC. Devuben, the co-ordinator of the URC, made sure that the collected clothes  found their way to the people who needed them most. Since she works and lives in this area for years, she knew exactly which family was in need of what. Through her and her colleague’s efforts every single item found a useful second life.

Along with Devuben, the QX team distributed clothes in the community to the identified families. They were thrilled by the fact that each and every piece was measured precisely, to make sure it would find its perfect match. The interaction with the community and the knowledge that the collected clothes found suitable users, made this a successful event for QX, our organization and the community.

Are you inspired by this story and do you wish to organize a similar event? Please don’t hesitate to contact us and drop us a few lines with your idea at rdc@saath.org.

Community Mondays: Savings & Credit

Our new blogging challenge for your Daily Dose of Saath: six stories a week about our interns, clients, visitors and programmes. If you have a story that belongs on this page, please mail us at rdc@saath.org. 
On monday we feature succes-stories and case-studies from the community. This monday we share the experience of the Hussain family from Juhapura with the Saath Savings & Credit Co-operative Society Ltd.

Name of the client: Sabir Hussain
Age: 38
Area: Juhapura

Sabir Hussain and his wife Firoza Hussain with 3 children have been residing in Juhapura, Ahmedabad for the last 3 years. Both husband and wife stitch clothes in order to earn their living. A few years back, before they started using the loan service provided by the Saath cooperative, they earned an income of Rs. 8,000 – Rs. 12,000, which wasn’t enough to pay their employees, feed their children and satisfy their daily household needs. During financial crises they used to borrow money from their businessman for a fixed period of time, and returned him that money within the given time. This was very tedious for them, as it was very difficult to collect such a large amount of money within a small period of time.

Two years ago, one of their 12 employees told them about the loans provided by the Saath co-operative. They were surprised to know that a facility like that was available and they further enquired about it. They formed a group of 4 and started taking loans from the Cooperative.. His wife is the leader of the group. She collects instalments, interest, stamp duty and Rs. 100 compulsory savings from all the members of her group and gives it to the field officer on a particular fixed date. She said that she never had problems repaying the loans with interest and she hadn’t experienced any problems in her group about repaying the loans.

She twice took loans from the Cooperative and is very happy with this service. She took a loan of Rs. 5,000 in the 1st cycle and Rs. 10,000 in the 2nd cycle for the purpose of buying a new sewing machine with better technology and sold the old machine. With the use of 2 new machines, they can stitch larger number of clothes in a short period of time and hence, now they earn Rs. 20, 000 – Rs. 25, 000 per month. She says: “I am extremely benefitted by this loan service, provided by Saath Cooperative. It helped me to expand my business by buying two new sewing machines and this has improved my financial status by increasing my profits.”

Due to increase in their income, they now can save Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 a month, apart from the Rs. 100 compulsory savings.

This case-study was conducted by Shalini Pal.