Intro: Sam is from UK and is currently studying Masters in International Development from Utrecht University, Netherlands. He spent three months with Saath doing his research on the ‘Male Youth Experiences in the slum’ and given below is his experience in his own words.
My internship with Saath has been a truly unforgettable experience. I worked with the organisation from February-May 2014, conducting research for my Master’s thesis. My research focused on the experiences of male youth in slum communities in Ahmedabad, and how this can be used to inform and shape effective youth and gender policy and programmes. Saath’s youth programme – Youth Force – provided me with an ideal platform through which to talk to young men in the city, to hear their stories, and understand their views and perceptions.
Living in Ahmedabad was a little daunting at first, but I soon settled into this friendly, welcoming, and undoubtedly vivacious city. From the stunning ancient architecture and melting pot of cultures in the old city, to the high-rises, malls and cosmopolitan feel of the new city, it’s a place where contemporary India’s identity can really be felt. This was my first time in India, and I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to start. Ahmedabad, despite being a rambling metropolis of almost 7 million people, retains the mentality and charms of a small city.
I started my time here with an orientation in Saath’s various programmes, all of which demonstrate a high level of initiative, transparency, and accountability. I have been thoroughly impressed with the wide range of successful programmes the organisation operates. Following this, I was introduced to Abhishek, one of Youth Force’s local facilitators, who acted as my research assistant and translator. I am extremely grateful for all of his hard work, dedication and patience with me throughout the research process, I could not have done it without him!
My research involved in-depth interviews with young male members of Youth Force. It was a lengthy process, including some awkward moments when discussing women and gender, but overall it allowed me to gain a fascinating and invaluable insight into the lives and experiences of those I spoke to. Due to the demographic studied I was also given a real point for personal reflection. Presenting my research to various members of staff and youth leaders from across the state was most enjoyable and insightful; it’s been a while since one of my presentations has had such a captive and interested audience!
Celebrating Holi with Youth Force
Alongside the research for my thesis, my time with Saath has also given me so much more. I’ve gained valuable professional and personal experience, made some great friends, and had the opportunity to visit some wonderful places and eat some fantastic food. Gujarati ice-cream was a particular highlight!
I’d like to thank everyone at Saath for making me feel so welcome and happy during my time in Ahmedabad, and especially Irbaaz for taking care of so many practical issues that I could never have begun to figure out alone! Additionally, I had the good fortune to be a part of Saath’s inspiring 25th anniversary celebrations, on which I would like to congratulate and commend them. While I’m excited for the next stage of my journey (four weeks travelling across India), I will miss my time here, and greatly look forward to my next visit!
Sam has his own blog about his time in India and if you would like to read more, here’s the link to his blog: