By Pragya Tripathi
“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein
The power in these words seem truer after my four weeks journey with SAATH. It was life changing experience to meet those people about whom you keep hearing from social media and NEWS channels. And what was more overwhelming was that people who came out of those situations are now part of the program and helping others.
I remember my first day at Saath, as it was International Women’s Day and there was a celebration for all the women who are part of Saath as beneficiary. The celebration had many competitions and food, but one competition really stood out for me. It was drawing competition the theme for which was ‘I am beautiful because….’ and women’s rights. It was good to see the thinking of all the ladies and girls and how much they were aware about. On the second day I visited various centers and cooperatives run by Saath and was so happy to see such humble people. The people who work on the ground were so optimist, full of life and wanted to make difference in the lives of the people. Saath takes pride in having more number of female workers and you could see in the field. In every activity you could find them, running center, cooperatives, training the students, mobilizing the communities almost everywhere. And every woman I spoke to had only one reason to work “I don’t want to sit at home, Didi.” They wanted to bring change in their life or in the lives of their daughters.
I then started working on three tasks of my project. My first task brought me in touch with the students and trainers of the Beauty and Wellness Course. I interviewed 18 women/girls and each story had the only lesson, you need to have courage and heart to fight your own battles. A ray of hope was shown to them by Saath and they used it to transform their lives. I developed a video communication based on the life story of the four trainers who are real inspiration for these students. My second task was more challenging as it was on interviewing and understanding the lives of the children enrolled in the Child Friendly Spaces program run by Saath. This initiative is for the children of migrant workers who cannot be enrolled in the school because of migration, unawareness and lack of documentation. Saath helps these students by starting an informal classroom at the construction site itself to make these students reach basic level, help the parents in documentation and get the students enrolled in the government-run schools. The space is not just for learning but also provides meals and shelter while the parents are working at the site. Lives of thousands of children is being impacted through this initiative. Children who had dreams of becoming officer, doctor, engineer can now see means of fulfilling it. One among such child was Anwar, whose life I shadowed and captured in a short video. My third task was to capture all the Saath programs in a short video. The orientation on the first two days about all the programs run by SAATH helped me to execute this task also successfully. The main challenge was that people were doing great work on the ground and I wanted to capture it flawlessly.
I would especially like to thank my mentor Vama Ma’am for her constant guidance and support and helping me identify correct methodologies to go about completing the tasks. She also helped in my personal learning and my project would have been incomplete without her valuable advice. She gave me an experience of how to work as a marketer – capture emotions and feeling of people and to develop communications based on it. I would also like to thank Priti Ma’am, master trainer of Beauty and Wellness course, who introduced me to various trainers and students and I shadowed her for two days to various centers in Ahmedabad. She herself is a story of inspiration and is also the inspiration behind the video of my first task. I am also thankful to Kunal Sir and Nishant Sir for giving me insight on beauty and wellness course and Zuber Sir and Kamini Ma’am for their support in helping me to cover the CFS program. Getting correct statistics in my videos would have been impossible without support of Sharda Ma’am and Priyanka Ma’am and I am thankful to them. I would also like to thank Shikha and Pankaj for the orientation and constant support for all administration work. Everyone was so simple and humble and full of energy for the work they do.
I am glad that I got an opportunity to work with Saath for my DoCC (Development of Corporate Citizenship) project. Saath (in Hindi and Gujrati means ‘together, co-operation, a collective or support’) is truly living upto its name by extending its support to the marginalized section of the society in all the impact areas required. I would be more than willing to extend any kind of support to Saath even after my project stint and the experiences which I gained here will be with me as life lessons.