Your Daily Dose of Saath for today contains Jasmijn’s story about her internship at Saath. In 2011 she spent three months at our organization. She conducted fieldwork for her masterthesis on Pre-school Education in Juhapura.
I am a Dutch student from Utrecht University, the Netherlands and have been an intern at SAATH for 3 months. I am doing a master in International Development Studies and had the opportunity to go abroad to conduct fieldwork for my thesis. For months I had been thinking carefully about my research topic, country, and organization. Would it be Nepal, Guatemala, Peru, or Kenya? Rural or urban? Migration or health? The UN or Plan?
Firstly, I personally find education one of the most important aspects of development. Secondly, I was extremely concerned with the motives and approach of the organization. Thirdly, I decided to allow the first two points to take me wherever in the world.
This is how I ended up with SAATH in India. Today I can say it is the best choice I have made. India is one of the most ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse countries in the world. Rich traditions and festivals, many languages, outstanding colors, beautiful traditional clothing, delicious spices and cuisines, the Taj Mahal and the Ganges River all make India an extraordinary country. However, behind this beauty lies a great deal of complexity. Poverty, equal opportunities and social conflict are amongst some of these problems. SAATH is an organization focused on improving the quality of life of those on the bottom of the pyramid. They believe in the capacity of people, empowerment, and creating inclusive societies. They consider their target group to be service users rather than aid receivers. They have a great educational program, crucial to establish the well being of a person. Hence, once I discovered SAATH, my choice was easy!
I did an impact study on pre-school education in the slum area of Juhapura in Ahmedabad. I compared the quality of education of SAATH’s pre-school program with public government schools. I spent half my time in the office doing research and preparing myself to go into the field. The second half, I conducted interviews with parents and teachers. The teachers I met are well-respected women in the community that do a great job at educating the young children and their parents in the area. They focus on the overall development of a child by preparing them for further education but also giving advice on nutrition and hygiene.
Language barrier has certainly been a challenge at times. The few words ‘namaste’, ‘torra torra’, and ‘sucria’, do not get you extremely far but a smile, positive attitude and patience do! In the last month I was able to teach the pre-school teachers English. Thanks to their great enthusiasm this was such an enjoyable experience.
On the last day of school, before summer holiday, I was invited to join the children and teachers on their picnic in Gandinagar. The day was filled with excitement, playing and eating. The children’s school year ended with a blast and so did my internship.
SAATH has given me a once in a lifetime opportunity that exceeded all my expectations. I gained a great deal of practical experience. My supervisors shared valuable knowledge and expertise on the topic and did an excellent job at supporting me throughout this internship. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!