Monthly Archives: June 2013

CHANGES EXPERIENCED FROM THE FIRST DAY OF INTERNSHIP TO THE LAST DAY OF IT

Harpreet is currently studying MBA in Tech – Civil from NMIMS. He was an intern with Saath for 1 month and worked with Saath’s Nirman Programme and RDC Department.

Given below is his experience with Saath in his own words

“The decision of me joining SAATH for doing internship has become one of the most worthy and important decisions in my life that truly paid off well. By joining SAAIMG_0674TH I got the chance to learn things, I wasn’t aware only of. At SAATH, I went for field visits and by them, I realized that the belief that our nation as a whole is growing every day is completed incorrect, only a sections of the society are developing, not all. Some people still struggle for their daily necessities every day just so that they can survive. Even toilets, clothes, food and shelter are not available for all.

On the first day of internship, I just thought of SAATH of just being like other NGO’s who just take so many initiatives and hardly fulfill very few of them. But gradually as my internship carried on, I realized that SAATH was very different from other NGO’s. Each member is SAATH is very active and very dedicated to his work. When time passed by I truly understood that why do people respect SAATH very much, and I am very proud to be a part of it.

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Harpreet on the right with the RDC team

The working atmosphere at SAATH is very friendly as well as professional. No staff member is to be seen wasting time, but all of them are always there to help with our doubts without any hesitation. Though I was there for only some but still I was treated very well. A special thanks to the RDC Department for taking me as an intern in their prestigious organization.”

Fighting against all odds

Shaikh Nilofarbanu Muhammad Hanif (13 years old, studying in 7th standard) lives in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad. She lives with her mother who is the sole bread earner of her house. Her mother earns her livelihood by doing household work for which she gets a mere 500 rupees / month. After her father’s death in 2008 the financial condition of her family worsened and her mother was forced to put her two elder sister’s (age 17 years and 15 years) in orphanage. But then also poor financial condition didn’t deter Nilofarbanu to pursue her studies.

During that time, for the development of under privileged women SAATH started a Women Development Center (WDC) in Juhapura area so, when she read the pamphlet of WDC she visited the center and showed her interest in English speaking course. Later on she was enrolled for the course. Initially for few days she came to class but then she disappeared and never again came to the center. To know the actual reason behind her absence center coordinator visited her house. “When I visited her house and asked Nilofar about reason behind  her absence from the class she told me that she really wants to learn English but her mother only earns 500 rupees a month so she could not afford the programme fee (500 rupees)of English speaking course. “ says Zaheeda Shaikh, Center Coordinator, WDC.

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Women in WDC Computer Course with their teachers Shahin Shaikh(In the front) and Menaz Saha(In the Back). Menaz first joined WDC as a student and later seeing her enthusiasm she was hired as a teacher.

After listening to her story and looking at her enthusiasm and willingness to learn English, center coordinator decided to give her a special consideration and eventually her course fee was exempted. Now Nilofar comes regularly to the center.  When Zaheeda asked about her aspirations in life she told her that she just want to complete her studies first.

Established in August 2012, based out of Juhapura, WDC is a community based women empowerment and livelihood center ‘Falah-e-Niswa’ as the women themselves have named it, aims at linking vulnerable women to various ‘sources-of-income’ which at the end of the day uplifts their pNew Picture (4)ower and dignity. Currently providing trainings in English speaking, Computer Courses and Beauty Parlour Courses. The vision of programme is to provide the information to women on issues like Domestic Violence, Educational and Health issues etc. and try to guide them to overcome those. Centre will also create linkages with other programmes of Saath like Micro Finance, CFS, Urban Resource Centre etc. This will holistically support the women approaching the centre.

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A total of 97 women have been trained till date in the courses of English Speaking, Computer Course and Beauty Parlour.

“This kind of centres should open for not just women from minority group only but also for the underprivileged women of all the sections of society so as to empower them and give them a voice” says Zahida Shaikh, Coordinator, WDC

Nirman – Constructing the Change

Shantaben Amruthbhai is a resident of Behrampura and has a family of seven  members. To supplement the income of the family; she worked as a helper/labourer at different construction sites for a few years. Shantaben felt that there was no scope to grow for her and learn new skills as nobody was willing to teach her. Moreover the wage was seasoNew Picture (3)nal. She had lost hope that things would change for her. Shantaben came to know about the Nirman Training Programme through the road shows conducted by the SAATH team. She visited the center to get more information about the timings, the structure of the course and the fees. The course was tempting to her since the fees were meager and the timings appropriate. At the training center she got a formal training in Masonry like how to use the tools, how to make cement-concrete mixture and sprinkle water on the plastered walls.

She explains “Along with the training given in the masonry department, I also received training in development of soft skills and was given information about the importance of savings and the necessary safety measures that need to be taken into consideration while working. The training has helped me to enhance my income by Rs.50 per day. I have become more independent then before. I am in a better position to bargain for my wages and work hours. It has enabled me to strike a balance between motherhood and work”. She hopes to become a skilled worker someday. Shantaben has become a role model for other women of her community.

Started in 2011, Nirman works with people who are unskilled or skilled labourers in the informal sector. Nirman aims at improving their skills, working efficiency and proficiency enabling skills enhancement and perfection. Once proper training is achieved, placement opportunities are identified given to these workers. 4 trades are taught currently namely Carpentry, Plumbing, Masonry and Electrician. Till date Nirman has trained more than 400 individuals and helped them in getting better employment opportunities.

The state of Gujarat has over 80,000 women working in the construction sector and almost all of them are working in unskilled jobs (carrying and transferring materials).  Women have to shoulder much greater responsibilities then there male counterparts. They struggle to strike a balance between motherhood, housework and there role in supplementing the income of the family. Their work is hard labour and at the end of the day they suffer from pain in limbs, hands, joints and headaches.They have no job security and owing to their occupational risk factor they are also affected due to lack of insurance coverage. The wages of construction labourers are very low and many times they are exploited by their contractors. Also, the average daily income of female labourers is low as compared to their male counterparts. They are not given benefits such as bonus or leaves.

Nirman is the platform through which we desire to give voice to these women.

Rediscovering my potential through ‘The SAATH Experience…’

Intro:                                                                                                                                                          Devina Sarwatay is currently studying Masters in Development Communication from Gujarat University. She spent the summer of 2013 with SAATH, working for four different programmes – Griha Pravesh, Nirman, The Saath Co-operative and Urmila – in her roughly month-long internship. This period, which was full of challenges and hence learning, will be cherished by her for many years to come.

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Devina Sarwatay [on right ;-)] thinks she makes a good photograph only with her canine brother, Buddy Sarwatay!

I told my mother, who I am really close with, that I will be starting my NGO internship with SAATH on the 13th of May, 2013. She declared immediately that the internship was going to be a grand success, as I was starting on the pious occasion of Akshay Tritya.

Looking back at the entire experience, today, I sure can say that she is some gifted fortune-teller! For me, the internship has indeed been a grand success for several reasons which you will find, if you read on…

Firstly, SAATH is one of the few NGOs, which spends time after its interns to introduce them to the organisation, its work culture and the programmes it works with. They have a dedicated Research, Documentation and Communication Cell which has an impressive orientation programme. It solves any doubts you might have as well as freely answers queries that pop up in your mind. They also take you to visit a few of the programme centres, so that you get a hang of the kind of field work that is put into their programmes.

Secondly, they pretty much give you a free hand to pick up programmes that you would like to work with, along with the intern requirements that they have of you. This means that you can not only have the satisfaction of completing tasks allotted to you which will help them cover ground with their work, but also get the opportunity to work with an issue you really feel for.

Thirdly, they show massive support and patience when you have doubts about something and want to ask questions. In case you have an emergency, in my case it was my mother meeting with a serious accident, they ask you to leave everything else and focus on the right things that allows you to put your 100% where it’s needed, when it’s needed. SAATH sure gave me ‘saath’ during my tough times!

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Devina Sarwatay [standing in white, on right ;-)] interacting with Umeed students

I worked on diverse, particularly interesting issues all through my internship. My first project was for Nirman. I had to figure out the intricacies of the Modular Employable Skills Programme and translate the necessary details that could be used for Nirman. The second project that I worked on was the photo-documentation of their Urmila Home Manager’s programme.

The third, and probably the longest project for me, was for Griha Pravesh. I had to rewrite their manual, since the programme has undergone an evolution. The final project, which I personally enjoyed quite a lot, was making the very first annual report of The Saath Co-operative – a microfinance institution which is a sister organisation of SAATH. I met a host of interesting people at SAATH as well as through it and learnt a lot from them. There were a few individuals who really touched my heart with their inspiring life stories which will remain with me for a long time.

A facet, of why the internship was so successful for me, is the fact that I managed to make the most of the chances that SAATH gave me, despite being at strife at the personal front with my mother’s health. I couldn’t have done this without the help and support of everyone at SAATH. Nonetheless, I would like to show my gratitude, specifically, to three extraordinary individuals – Jenny Parekh, Shikha Gupta and Keren Nazareth – who have inspired me to learn and do some great work during my internship and in future.

I wish all the current and future interns all the good luck and hope they have an exciting SAATH experience!

Give for Youth – 3 Days to Go

Give for Youth is Microsoft YouthSpark programme in partneship with Global Giving.

Between June 11 – 18 Microsoft is matching 50% of donations for micro-projects uploaded on Global Giving. Saath has currently 2 micro-projects active for this campaign.

pict_grid7A training program, specially designed for 20 young women who are school dropouts or widows and who belong to economically backward community from the slums of Ahmedabad. The training program provides knowledge of House Keeping, Basic Computer, Basic English and Life skill. It will also give an opportunity to the young women to place themselves on an equal footing with men in the increasingly competitive job market.

pict_grid7SAATH have come up with a training module specially designed for 20 young women coming from economically weak background, less educated community from the slums of Ahmedabad. The training program provides knowledge of Basic English, Basic Computer, Bed Site Patient Assistant and Life skill. The program will give an opportunity to young women to make themselves self-reliant.

Do take the initiative help these women. Click on the names of the projects to go to donation page. While the projects are eligible for funding for 3 months, the Microsoft’s campaign to match funds is for 3 more days only. So, don’t miss the opportunity to create a change.

Thank You for taking the time to read this.