Today we share with you story two of our interns who were part of the RDC team in Saath for approximately two months Ada-Sophie Hieronimus and Heidrun Kerl. They both are from Germany and currently studying in Maastricht University. They did a great job here and for which we are thankful to them and here’s their experience with Saath in their own words:
Our Experience at Saath – Heidrun (on the left) and Ada
Our experience at SAATH has been truly amazing. It is not only the warm atmosphere (and climate, let’s be honest, I have never in my life been so thankful for fans), it is the people you work with and the work you do. We felt welcome from the moment we arrived until the very last moment of departure. Not only were the people at RDC good friends, they also gave us tasks that we highly enjoyed and that – as we hope – contributed to the work they were doing.
We additionally feel very lucky to have worked at an organization that has an admirable approach to the challenges India is facing and once again we realized that you have to understand people and problems before you help them – and that is exactly what SAATH is doing. When we talked to the people in the field, we really got the impression that the programs have an impact and provide help where it is needed. I think most impressive was the visit at the Child Friendly Spaces, and once again we were more than touched to see that there is help and perspective provided to the poorest of the poor.
We want to thank everyone who has made our time in India to the amazing experience it has been. And we want to thank SAATH for giving us the hope that there is change and that there is improvement where it is needed – and we want to thank SAATH for giving us the opportunity to contribute, even if it was not much, to what they are doing.
Keep up the good work – we will be coming back!
Lots of Love,
Heidi and Ada
The major livelihood of people living in the Dholka and Viramgam blocks of Ahmedabad District is agriculture and around 80 percent of people work as a farm labourer as they do not have sufficient resources to do their own farming. Most of the people usually work in big farmer’s farm. Due to poor financial condition to sustain their livelihood even children from the family had to do labour work in the fields.
Since 2009 Saath was running its Child Rights programme in these villages on the issue of child labour. After seeing the economic condition of the families in the villages Saath saw that there was a need to empower the rural women of these villages. Saath decided to do that by providing them access to financial support and guidance for sustainable livelihood opportunities. Also, a need to take the initiative was felt because of non-existence of any NGO or organizations working on microfinance institute in these particular areas.
Hence, with women at its focus, in January 2011, a process of saving and credit was initiated in Dholka and Viramgam, and its success lead to legally converted corporative institution 2012 named “Saath Women Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Ltd”. The Cooperative aims to create and increase awareness about credit and the habit of saving and providing loans at an affordable rate reaching out to areas where no banking facilities are available to improve the living standards of the people.
Today the cooperative is run in 47 villages with more than 2,600 women as its members. Its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) was organized on 13th Aug 2012, in which 800 women were present. The total amount of loan disbursed in the last year was Rs. 54,85,000. The Second AGM was organized on 20th of June 2013, in which financial year 2011-12’s working was reported and along with programme activities and challenges. As per the projections by the Cooperative team in the next two years more than 4,000 women will be a part of the initiative.
The First Annual General Meeting of the Cooperative
The Cooperative has helped many women for starting their own ventures for earning. Here’s the story of one of the member of the Cooperative:
Sheetalben, a resident of Dhakdi village is an active member of the Cooperative and saves Rs. 100 each month. She is present in all the meetings of the cooperative and has taken a loan of Rs. 15,000 from the Cooperative. She has opened a small ‘Pan Parlour’ and through it she is able to earn Rs. 5,000 per month. “I am thankful to Saath organisation for helping me in opening up my own business to support my family”, says Sheetalben.
Inro: Ms. Riya Bhaskaran is an undergraduate student at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication and was an intern at Saath from 13th May to 23rd June, 2013 associated with Research Documentation and Communication Cell and Fundraising.
Riya Bhaskaran (on the left) during a Focused Group Discussion at our Vasna Urban Resource Centre
Here’s here experience of working with Saath in her own words:
These 42 days as exactly counted on my intern schedule were ones dedicated to learning different aspects of benevolent individual and what India immediately needs to cater to. Terms like urban poor, unemployment, vocational training, women empowerment, and most essentially livelihood, all now are perfectly understood; which our social science textbooks tried best to comprehend for us.
A three day orientation was organised by the NGO so that we are aware of the various programs it runs and get to know about the values and missions it adheres to. These three days made it pretty clear Saath was one unique NGO.
Apart from working for the Research & Documentation Team and Fundraising & Marketing team; one of the most interesting works at Saath, was the research with the students from the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands). They were on a research to understand the system of public health and sanitation of the poor specifically women’s health. It was an amazing experience to interact with the people from the community and know their story of struggle and that how eagerly they all want affordable and cleaner facilities of toilets and bathrooms. It was surprising to know how women are still a victim of backwardness and thus lack of awareness. But on the same occasion it is extremely pleasing to realize how some women have opened up to new methods of personal sanitation and embracing it completely. Poverty still scars their lifestyle and hence discontinues their access to better health facilities frequently.
An internship worth giving credit to, for adding on an ocean of knowledge and knowing. An immense amount of information and understanding gathered directing through the clutter of India, making it quite clear what stays crucial and what action plan must be engaged. It was interesting to know that an NGO clearly does not live in a rosy picture we assume it does. It takes loads of strength mentally and physically right from identifying what exactly the problem area lies within and engaging the appropriate human resource for the same respectively.
This is the story of a Youth who wants to become a Youth Icon and Saath’s Umeed and Youth Force have been instrumental for him in achieving his goal
About Umeed and Youth Force:
Umeed: Established in 2005, Umeed, the programme was formulated where young talented youth who due to social and economic constraints are not able to pursue their education ahead and thus are not eligible for employment are trained in various professional courses, which then makes them qualified for a salaried position at an organisation through a vigorous process of placement and counseling.
Youth Force: : Established in 2012, Youth Force is new change programme incorporated at SAATH which aims at providing a platform to the youth of the urban poor settlement. This program currently looks at forming Youth force groups where young talented youth gather discuss upon issues, plan and execute activities, drives and cultural programs forming a doorway to leisure activities as well as empowering them with confidence and problem solving practices.
Nineteen year old Rahul Makwana a resident of Behrampura, Ahmedabad comes from a family of four members. He is pursuing his Bachelors in Business Administration from G.L.S., Ahmedabad. Nitin’s father works full-time at an import export workshop and is earning Rs.10,000 every month which nowadays is not enough to meet the requirements of a four member family. Rahul came to know about the UMEED course through his neighbor who had already attended the tally course at the Behrampura UMEED center. He approached the center for the details of the courses like its structure and its fees. He had always had a keen interest in accounts and so decided to join the tally course. Rahul explains “Initially I did have my concerns and doubts about what and how would they teach in the course since the cost of the course was a minimalistic Rs. 500. The timings were never a constraint as I joined the course during the vacation period. Even after the college commenced my professors were extremely supportive of me and were ready to be flexible with my timings. The course structure itself was perfect for me. Along with training in tally I got a chance for personal development. I was always interested in event management and with the help of the UMEED trainers I was able to organize a talent show when our course was near its conclusion. The instructors gave me a free platform to speak and allowed free flow of views and ideas”. On the completion of the course Rahul got placed at a call center however after going for a week he quit. He felt the work atmosphere at the call-center was such that it did not leave any room for personal growth. He was then placed at an accounting firm by the UMEED PLACEMENT CELL where he received a pay of Rs.4500 per month.
Rahul decide to visit the UMEED center after a few months to collect his certificate. He had a chance meeting with Sandeep Panchal (Ahmedabad co-coordinator of Youth Force) who happened to be present at the center at the time of Rahuls visit. Rahul was immediately interested in the Youth Force. Rahul still had some doubts about the working of the Youth Force programme. Sandeep gave him an opportunity to attend the youth group meeting that was to take place the following weekend. The meeting had a profound effect on Rahul. Rahul enthusiastically enrolled himself in the youth force. Rahul voices his opinion on the programme, saying “It acts as a great platform for the youth from the slums to hone their natural talents and grow as individuals. This is instrumental in an individual’s growth. The Youth Force programme is instrumental in connecting youth and helps the individual in understanding the importance of team building and team work. For the economic and social growth of India the development of youth resource is utmost important. The programme also helps in instilling the qualities of team building and leadership skill development. One unique feature of the programme is that everyone is treated as equals may it be the team leader or a new member of the group”.
Along with his group of friends Rahul has been instrumental in the formation of an online shopping site Kharidijunction.com under the guidance of their professor. He now earns around Rs.15,000 a month. He explains “It is the attitude of a person which can decide his success. One should always have an adjusting attitude and should be open to everyone’s views. One should be curious to learn new things. Listening is an important key for growth. It is the mental blocks in our mindset which hinders our growth. It is also necessary to face ones fear rather than running away from them. The most important step to become successful is to first decide what success is. Different people have different perspectives on what can be defined as success. The word “I” should not exist in one’s dictionary. The word “I” should be replaced by “WE”.
In today’s time Rahul feels that the youth sometimes undervalues his own skills. Rahul draws inspiration from his icon Dhirubhai Ambani. The patriotic feeling in him is clearly reflected by the fire in his eyes. He wants to become a youth role model for all his peers who are still struggling to find their foot in the society.
I was familiar with the activities if Saath by visiting the Urban Resource Center run by it. I joined Saath in the project Youth Force and was assigned field work for the programme. I knew the process of surveying a person. For the first 4 – 5 days I went in to the field with the field workers. By the fieldwork I learned about how to talk with respondent and how to acquire information from them.
By working with Saath’s Youth Force I also learned about the planning of an event and what needs to be done to make it successful. I learned about working in a team and also managerial skills. For my work and surveys everyone was very cooperative and I got good support from the group leaders of every area, Mr. Sandip (City Coordinator) and Mr. Paresh Sakariya (Gujarat Coordinator).
For the Youth Force I will say that the activities which are held by the them for the social work are excellent. These activities have been very successful. I hope that in the future more and more boys and girls join the Youth Force programme and achieve success in their lives.
In the end I am very thankful to Saath for giving me a chance to work with their organisation.
- Roshni Arvindbhai Kareliya
- MSW Student
- Intern with Saath – Youth Force (11th June – 25th July, 2013)