By Caroline Moy
I spent two months with Saath Charitable Trust as an intern, as part of my second year of studies in social work in France. During the first week of my internship, I explored many different programs. I visited Urban Resource Centre, Livelihood program centres, Child Friendly Spaces, Rweaves, and Saath Cooperative. While observing the NGO action, I was amazed about the numerous programs implemented by Saath, and how wide its actions are. During my previous internships in France, I have never experienced being in an NGO which undertakes so many programs and which has so many support from staff, from cooperatives, and from financiers.
During my internship, I focused more on Women@work program, centre of which is located in Odhav. I attended different sessions such as STEM theory training, mobile repairing practical course, and life skill training session. I also spent time with trainees and staff at the centre. There, I noticed how the staff is doing its best for the trainees, and that workers role doesn’t end to their assigned mission, they also have a deep wish to help these women getting into a better life. Indeed, I felt that all of the workers play a key role in women’s lives by teaching and educating them towards values of self-esteem, empowerment, taking own decision, and expressing themselves.
When I was at Women@Work centre, I felt this place was peaceful and safe for everyone. I had the opportunity to ask about the trainees’ wellbeing, and most of them answered that everything was good, there was no need of change. I think the trainees answers show how important this centre is in their lives. Also, I myself felt very comfortable, and both staff and trainees gave me a warm welcome.
I remember the day when I accompanied the trainees with the staff to science city. According to me, giving them the opportunity to visit such a place is also a way to make them explore places where they may not have gone if they were not involved in Saath, to encourage them going farther from home, and at the same time to enable them to develop their knowledge.
I still have the souvenir of the trainees smile, i felt like they were so happy to be together, in this place which is the symbol of knowledge. It seems to me that they enjoyed a lot sharing this moment together, learning new things on science topics. I also enjoyed a lot with them, and I will remember this particular day and the trainees repeating throughout the day gajab gajab! (amazing amazing!)
After spending two months in Saath Charitable Trust, I consider I have accomplished one unique, rewarding and educating experience that I will always remember. I met a lot of warm-hearted persons. I am also glad having met and sharing moments with the trainees of Women@Work. I consider all of these women as examples: they are brave and determined to change their lives for a better future. I learnt a lot from them and from their stories, I even learnt, thanks to them, some Gujarati words and it was very pleasant. I have also learnt and gained experience through the task I had to do: collecting life stories, creating an assessment for Women@Work programme, and sharing my experience on a blog.
All this experience wouldn’t have been possible without Saath agreement to enrol me as an intern in the NGO, which is why I would like to thank Saath staff for having welcomed me. I thank Niraj Jani for giving me his time to answer my questions. Moreover, Hakim, Nilam, Hetal, Kiran, Harshali, Dharmishtha and Megha from Women@Work staff were important support for me, they kindly gave me their time, helped me to interview the trainees, and shared with me their professional experience. I would also like to thank Hiren for having helped me, for his advices and for having helped me to better understand the programme and the challenges to be met. And finally I want to thank Kruti, for her support and her answers to my questions and Shikha and Pankaj for making me learn about the various programs and for guiding me throughout my internship.
I would like to end my testimony by one quote I particularly value: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. To me, it illustrates perfectly the trainees’ involvement in the programme, the staff involvement in their work and the sense given to Women@Work programme. I think that focusing on the future rather than the past is a way to achieve higher dreams, and is also a way to “bold strides towards gender equity”.