My Connection with Saath – Shashank Rakesh

Shashank Rakesh interned with Saath for 7 months and given below is his experience with Saath in his own words. IMG-20160212-WA0027

‘If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.’

This anonymous quote perfectly describes my journey at Saath from the beginning till the end. It started on May 2nd, 2015 with an orientation program led by Irbaaz and Kunal from the RDC i.e. the Research and Documentation Cell.

The orientation program started with a brief interaction with all the program co-ordinators. The nuances of each of the projects was nicely explained. After the interactions, visits to different program centres were made to have a better clarity. The two-day orientation program concluded with me getting into Saath Mahila Saving and Credit Co-operative Society, the rural micro-credit wing of Saath which is headed by Mr.Shyam Prakash Singh. It focuses on financial inclusion and empowerment of women in rural areas by providing them an opportunity to save a minimal amount every month. It also extends credit to these women members in joint liability as per their need.

It was one of the most exciting decision from the perspective of my position on the learning curve. I learnt a great deal out of it. The field visits to Viramgam, Dholka and Mandal helped me in understanding the problems at the grassroots. It also gave an insight into the operations of the organization which it undertakes in these areas. I met different people during these visits. Listening to their life stories, their problems, their aspirations for themselves and their family’s future would often give me an unexplainable feeling.

IMG-20160212-WA0021Shashank documenting case stories for Saath Mahila Cooperative

I made a great set of friends who became more like a family to me. I loved every moment of the office. When you get a lovely morning coffee from Shobhnaben as soon as you reach the office, you forget all the problems of your life. The motherly nature of Madhuben would often make me forget that I was a bit far from home. The interactions with Parulben used to be very interesting as she would tell me many things from her previous work and life experiences. She’s always ready to learn something which she didn’t know. The ever smiling Jayaben would fill me with positivity as she believed that things will happen no matter what but it becomes easy if you take everything with a smile. I learnt a great deal of professionalism by seeing Bellaben. She is a disciplinarian in and out.

I developed a special bonding with some people of Saath family. Shyambhai, Irbaazbhai, Kunalbhai, Vama and Shabya became very close. They shared every happiness with me. They were the people who I turned to for everything which I wanted to know. The growth from being a student to a small step towards being a professional was guided by these people. They acted as mentors. I got the insights of the rural India with my endless discussions with Shyambhai. He would tell me of the various problems of the financial sector in the villages and the possible solutions for it. He would talk about banking regulations, the changing business environment, the emerging challenges to the organization and the ways to make it growing.

Kunalbhai and Irbaazbhaifrom the Research and Documentation Cell can be simply be termed as ‘Tom and Jerry’ of Saath. They will tease each other, make fun of each other but can’t live without each other. Kunalbhai loves to talk. Give him a topic and he can talk endlessly. He has a very good command over Gujarati, Hindi and English. There are times when he would bring a unique term in Gujarati during a discussion to make his point which would make everyone to think. This art makes him one of the most loved guys in the organization. Irbaazbhai is a cracker in a nutshell. He looks calm and composed almost all the time but reality is the other way round. He loves to read and because of this passion, I could connect to him more often. He has an exceptional talent of writing. He can be seen running in the office all the time because of the work. But then, it is because of the dedication he shows in the work which is reflected everywhere and that garners respect.

Vama is the in-charge of the fund raising department of Saath. She is the woman with a plan all the time. She can be called as the Google of the organization as she knows everything and everyone in the field. Her innovative ideas of raising funds have been appreciated by everyone.

Shabya is one of the closest Bihari friends ever. She remains straight forward all the time. I have seen her ina chilled out mood most of the times. She is a passionate photographer at the same time.

I would like to thank each member of the Saath family to have me there. I would have missed a few names but they will always remain in my heart. There are a lot of things which I have learned over time but then it’s the relation with the people which keeps you going every day. It was a really great experience working with the entire team. I was really blessed to have each one of them.

Saath has always worked for the inclusive development of people. It stretched its arms and included me in their journey towards the making of a better world. May the organization achieve newer heights and spread its love to newer horizons.

I would like to sum it up in a quote, ‘life is a journey, with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.’

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