Monthly Archives: March 2012

Expectations & Experience: Elle’s mid-term research experience.

Let me introduce myself; my name is Elle de Jong and I am a student from Utrecht University. The University is a place where I have gained a lot of theoretical knowledge on development in general, however the practical side is considerably different. These is the main aspect, which I desired to experience by doing an internship at SAATH; having a practical encounter with development and learn from an experienced organization.

SAATH asked me to do research on the quality of the anganwadi’s in Juhapura, which I immediately found an intriguing and motivating research topic. After a literature study in the Netherlands I came to Ahmedabad and had a warm and welcoming meet with SAATH. I started off with an extensive introduction of the organization, understanding their line of thought and their means of working. Soon I realized that the theoretical knowledge that I had granted to be so important had completely different meaning in practice. Moreover, certain features of Ahmedabad and Juhapura in specific, made some of the literature I had read unsuitable. When finalizing my internship, the art will be in combining the knowledge that I have gained from theory and the experiences I have in the field.

The first experiences with Juhapura were enchanting for me; the colourful streets of markets with all various products and the endless kindness of the people made me even more motivated to start with the research. After five weeks I started with conducting the actual interviews, which demanded some patience and innovative thinking. All together I have already had the experience I wanted; learn about the practical side of development and see that theoretical knowledge is not everything. Currently I am conducting the final interviews with the workers of the anganwadi’s, and many more interviews need to be done with the parents to formulate a complete overview. As I am only halfway my internship, I hope I can gather much more information and formulate a useful report for SAATH. I will let you know when I’m finished with this research!

Warm regards, Elle

NGO India 2012 Exhibition; a recap

From 16th to the 18th of March we were present at the first NGO India 2012 Exhibition in Gurgaon. The event was organized by UBM India, a reputed event organizer. The main objective was to bring non-governmental organizations and CSR professionals together. NGOs could present themselves to the visiting corporate houses who in turn got introduced to grassroot-level NGOs.

On the first day of the exhibition, this promise was fullfilled. We interacted with many CSR professionals from different corporate houses. After this first day we learned that especially youth employabiity and affordable housing were trending topics in CSR world. Most corporates were based in Delhi, but many of them had projects in Gujarat. Since we have a lot of expertise in especially youth employability, future alliances look very promising!Chetasi and Simea at the exhibition

On the second day, the exhibition was predominated by NGO’s looking for partnerships and funders. We interacted with many NGOs for possible future partnerships. Although we were hoping for more corporate houses, the interactions turned out to be fruitful, since we are looking to expand to other states.

The third day of the exhibition was open to all public. the audience was a mix of corporates, NGOs and individuals.  Many individuals looked for volunteering opportunities. We got in touch with some consultants that were interested in working for us as e-volunteers. Since most people were based in Delhi or Gurgaon, e-volunteering is a good way to bridge the distance to Gujarat.

The exhibition turned out the be a very inspiring event. Allthough we hoped for more corporate houses looking for CSR activities, we did meet up with many inspiring persons from a wide array of fields. Currently we are busy following up on the contacts that we have made during the exhibition: 27 individuals, 105 NGOs and 45 corporate houses. Ofcourse we will keep you updated about any new initiatives that will sprout from this event!

We’re looking forward to the next NGO India event in Mumbai!

Chetasi & Simea

PS We would like to give our compliments to UBM India for the smooth organization of this event.  From hotel to venue, it was organized perfectly!

 

 

The craft roots of Tangaliya

This weekend (24th – 26th of March) a Craftroots exhibition will be held at Rajpath Club, Ahmedabad. (View invitation here: e-invitation-craftroots). Rweaves will be present at this exhibition, with a variety of Tangaliya, Patola, Khadi and Best-out-of-Waste products! To warm you up for this event, we’d like to give you some background information about Tangaliya.

Tangaliya is a weaving art native to the Dangashiya community of Surendranagar, Gujarat. The Dangashiya community is a mixed community of weavers and shepherds (Bharwad). The weavers made blankets and shawls out of sheep and goat wool for the shepherds to wear. They developed a special technique of weaving, also known as Dana work, only known to the Dangashiya community. Tiny dots of extra weft are twisted around a number of warp threads, giving an effect of bead embroidery to the fabric. This intricate process of twisting extra weft while weaving creates beautiful geometrical patterns and forms.

Tangaliya is woven on a pitloom: a small ans simple loom that is installed in a pit. The loom is operated by two footpedals (in the pit), leaving the hands of the weaver free for the dana-work. Traditionally, a tangaliya shawl is about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Shepherds wear it in the fields and their women wear It over a petticoat on special occasions. A traditional pitloom is 2 feet wide. To make a traditional shawl, a 20 feet long piece of fabric is cut in two and then the sides are stitched together.

Nowadays Tangaliya work is made in fine cotton and is used for a wide range of other products. Rweaves helps the artisans from SUVAS* to brand their products and to make contemporary designs to ensure them of a sustainable livelihoods.  Recently Tangaliya obtained the GI tag (Geographical Indication), confirming  the uniqueness of this weaving art.

If you want to see how Tangaliya is made, please visit Rweaves at the Craftroots exhibition. A loom will be installed and you can watch the artisans perform their weaving skills.

* SUVAS is a federation of rural artisans from Surendranagar, Gujarat. SUVAS is promoted by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Gandhinagar, in association with Saath Livelihood Services and CARE India.

An Escape to the Countryside

Eva, an amateur photographer and true Indiaphile, visited our Child-rights for Change programme in Viramgam, rural Ahmedabad. She  photo-documentated the child-rights programme and, between the clicking, interacted with the children and development activists. Read her story below. Her pictures will follow shortly after!

Escaping from my busy Dutch life, I tried and found some peace and relaxation in vibrant India. A visit to the rural area around Ahmedabad really helped putting things into perspective. It provided me with the colorful and happy feeling that I was hoping for.

Starting out in Ahmedabad and leaving the urban life filled with malls, markets and many, many people and vehicles, we slowly got into the surprisingly green fields of the Viramgam district.

At Saath’s rural office we enjoyed a freshly prepared lunch and Ashraf starts explaining the Child Rights for Change* program that we are about to visit. After this lunch, we were welcomed in a primary school class. Twenty children were sitting in a semi circle and greeted us as we walked in. We took our seats and four girls performed a dance, telling us a story of their daily activities. As soon as they were finished dancing, a well organized conversation started, informing us how the program was working out. Four of the students have been picked to look after the presence of the others. Apparently, that seems to be a very effective way of keeping children in school in stead of working in the fields. Later that day, we learnt that the drop out percentage is under 1%. The program really works.

As soon as we were trying to leave, it was very difficult to find our way through the crowd of very Eva (at the right) in Viramgamenthusiastic children. Then, one of the children tells us how he really would like to see and touch American dollars – being the symbol of all foreign currencies. I did not have dollars, but I handed him a 2 Euro coin. The coin goes from one hand into another and the children awed when hearing the equivalent of this one coin in Rupees (being approx Rs. 120). I wonder what they are thinking. Is this western money and the world it represents something they are dreaming of? Or not? I hope their dreams are about improving their lives by little steps, starting by joining classes.

The most spectacular thing – for me – were the people living in the villages. Taking their portraits, I was stunned by the pride and honesty in their eyes. I am convinced that SAATH adds extra meaning to the existence of these people and reconfirms their natural pride. These people – in turn, are passing these values to their children. Experiencing a day like this made me feel humble and hopeful for future development of rural areas in India.

* Child-rights for Change is a programme implemented by Saath and funded by Save the Children. The programme aims to create awareness about child-labour in 120 villages in the blocks of Viramgam and Dholka, rural Ahmedabad.