Getting closer to social work this summer

By Ghori Zeeshan Sanaullakhan

Ghori Zeeshan Sanaullakhan is an Ahmedabad resident and presently pursuing B.Tech in Computer Engineering from Pandit Deendayal Energy University. He spent 18 days at Saath as an summer intern doing field visits in Vocational Training- Livelihood program.

As part of the curriculum at college, I was asked to undergo an internship with any NGO working for a social cause of my choice. I researched on the Internet and finalized Saath Charitable Trust for my internship engagement. This was because I was fascinated with their simple yet indigenous approach to solving societal problems by focusing on youth and creating a pool of social reformers. I discussed my interest with Shashi sir from Research, Documentation, and Communication team at Saath. He briefed me about the internship pre-requisites & allied processes and matched me with a Saath program for the internship.

On my very first day, I met Nishant sir from the livelihood programs team and had a nice conversation. I liked that rather than jumping straight into the conversation about my work, we had a nice introductory chat about each other. He then explained to me the kind of work I was supposed to do in the coming days. I shared my interest and some of my experience in graphic designing. He assigned me to design a few pamphlets for promoting the courses which Saath was teaching to the rural community. So, my initial couple of days were spent working from home.

A pamphlet designed by Zeeshan

After successful completion of my graphic designing work, I was given the task of writing case stories of different people who have benefitted from the courses that were offered by Saath. So, Nishant sir planned a visit to the Vatva centre. I went along with Nishant sir in his car and met some students. I got to experience the teaching process in the centre. I saw many students working on computers- some were writing in word whereas some were practicing typing and others were solving some sort of online quizzes. There I met their course instructor Tina madam, who was very friendly. The students enjoyed learning with her through sessions, interactions, and engaging activities. After having been introduced to them, I had to take interviews with students who were part of the previous batch. Through this, I had to document their experiences and growth journey of learning with Saath. This aspect of communicating with people was by far the most fun and amazing experience of knowing them and their journey. I really enjoyed talking with different people and got to know a lot about their families and background.

A picture illustrating activities performed by Saath captured by the intern during his centre visit in Vatva.

Each person I interviewed was unique on its own and I learned new things from everyone. While discussions people were so calm and answered my questions with utmost sincerity. I didn’t feel like I was talking with some stranger but rather more of a family member or close friend. I asked them about the reason behind such confidence. Almost everyone gave the credit to the mock interviews conducted as part of their course. Many of them admitted that they were not confident initially and were of shy nature. They gained communication skills and boost confidence through Saath engagements. The fact that people coming from such vulnerable communities can achieve a feat like this if provided with proper care and support, really motivated my feelings to overcome the challenges that I will most probably encounter in my college life and beyond. During the session, the staff offered me ice cream and even told me that I can join them for lunch. All the staff members were kind and caring. I really liked the hospitality that they offered me throughout the day.

Some of the alumni of Vocational Training courses at Saath, with whom the intern got the opportunity to meet and discuss about their journey.

Later that day I met with Rakesh sir, who guided me on how to write a good case story. He showed me a few examples and I learned quite a bit from him. Now for the next couple of days, I worked from my home formulating all the different case studies. Now one day Shashi sir, my internship mentor, arranged an orientation session wherein I was introduced to various Saath programs with their history. He briefed me about the present programs and activities. It was a fun and interactive session. I learned quite a lot about the organization. All my doubts were resolved patiently during the orientation session. Then he planned some more activities for the upcoming week. I was again given the task of writing a couple of more case stories, doing field visits, and immersing in the vocational training programs. I got to meet the oldest person on the list whom I have interviewed and personally out of all the people, I really liked her story. We spent almost an hour or maybe even longer discussing her life and family. She worked as a helper at Saath before joining the course. She was passionate about computers and modern technology and that is what motivated her to join the course. After having an amazing chat, I spent the next few days writing the case stories. Meanwhile, I also received a task from Nishant Sir on designing a banner for their upcoming event at one of the old age homes. I personally enjoyed making the banner as it was more design-oriented compared to the pamphlets I made previously.

A banner designed by the intern for an event at old age home.

The last week was kind of tough in the sense that due to heavy rain the Balghar visit got cancelled and lots of consolidation work was pending finalization. I pretty much gave the final touches to the case studies I wrote under the guidance of Shashi Kumar. My college was also resuming from the next week, so I had to also complete my internship report. That brought an end to my short but amazing journey of a summer internship at Saath. I am hoping to work again at some point in the future on the things that I missed due to bad weather. Also given the short span of my internship I think I missed some important experiences but nonetheless it was an amazing learning journey. Overall, I enjoyed the work I did during my internship, and I can admit that I learned a lot of things about social work that I had not known before.


-Ghori Zeeshan Sanaullakhan

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