Last February a group of six students from Sweden visited our organization. They all shared their experiences with us. Read below the story of two students: Alice and Simon.
We are a group of six students from Global College in Sweden. In February we made a field study in Ahmedabad for two weeks. Our aim was to find out what youth’s dreams and aspirations were and what possibilities they had to achieve them. During our field study we interviewed a couple of girls from SAATH’s education program UMEED. The youths were very friendly and we made easy contact with the interpreters as well.
The interviews gave us an understanding of youths’ situation in the slums. We learnt how the society, the family and the norms affluence the youths’ dreams and their opportunities to achieve their dreams. We also got an insight of our own culture and could see similarities to the youths in Sweden.
SAATH were an exceptional organization to work with, they were very accommodating and flexible. They not only arranged youths we could interview and interpreters, but also could adjust the schedule to our specifications and made it possible for us to make home visits to the youths. Our contact person, Chetasi, was also very helpful. She could give us more information about Ahmedabad, the situation in the slums and about youth’s situation in society. She could also guide us in our work by suggesting questions we should ask and other perspectives we should look at.
Alice Harlin and Simon Rudholm
Ashraf Chauhan is 31 years old and works as a Project Officer for Saath’s Child Rights for Change rural initiative. Ashraf was born Bhavnagar, a coastal town in Gujarat. At a young age he felt compelled to do something for his community. He witnessed that his community had to deal with various social issues and that there was a lack of proper education. He obtained a masters degree in Social Work (MSw) with a specialization in Rural Development at the university of Bhavnagar in 2002.
After his studies he started working for ‘Kutch Naw Mirman Abhiyan’, an organization that worked in the areas of Kutch that were affected by the devastating earthquake of 2001. It was during this time that he got introduced to Saath. Saath’s first rural project was relief work in the villages of Rapar and Khadir in Kutch. The programme ran from 2001 to 2004.
In 2009 Saath started up the Child Rights for Change programme funded by Save the Children and Ashraf was hired as the project officer for this programme. The Swedish Company Ikea realized that most of the cotton they purchase from India comes from cotton-farms that employ small children. They tied up with Save the Children and started a programme to eradicate child-labour. Saath runs this programme in 120 villages in Viramgam and Dholka, two districts in rural Ahmedabad.
Ashraf says that it’s really fun to work with kids. He thinks it’s very important to create awareness about child-rights, because children are the thriving force for future development of the country. They (the child-rights for change team) have achieved one significant milestone so far and one milestone in-the-making. A certificate of appreciation has been signed by 1,500 farmers in the area. The certificate states that the farmers won’t hire children to work at their farms. The second achievement is in process. It is a resolution that will be signed by the panchayat of all the participating 120 villages. It states that no child in their village will work.
Ashraf sees the change happening. You can see the effect of the programme in the numbers of children going to school. Before the programme started, all children were working at farms. Nowadays, from the 10,000 children, 6,000 are out of child-labour. The remaining 4,000 children combine working with attending school. Ashraf hopes that those kids will also find their way out of child labour.
The thing he likes most about his job is giving awareness trainers to farmers and parents. It’s very awarding to see the change happen in the parents. Convincing parents is almost the most difficult part of his job. It’s very tough to persuade them to bring their children to school. Many villagers don’t see the benefits of education. Their children will have to learn how to work anyway and they don’t learn that through school. Besides, they need the extra income. Firstly he tries to persuade them by pointing out short-term benefits. He explains to them that their children will be provided with a nutritious lunch at school every day and that they are in a save, protected environment while the parents are at work. Ashraf also tries to change their mind-set to a long-term perspective. At school children will learn important things that they won’t learn on the cotton-fields. Children that receive proper education on a regular basis will be able to find better jobs at the right age. The cycle of poverty can be broken by education. The farms will also benefit from educated employees. Better educated staff will be able to manage the farms better and bring new solutions and fresh ideas to their businesses.
Next to trainings he also likes to participate in developing new strategies with the eight partners that are involved with the Child Rights for Change Programme. Through working for Saath Ashraf has been able to profile himself as a good trainer. He has built a valuable network with the local government and NGOs. In the future he would like to continue the work he is doing now: helping more children out of child labour.
Let me introduce myself; my name is Elle de Jong and I am a student from Utrecht University. The University is a place where I have gained a lot of theoretical knowledge on development in general, however the practical side is considerably different. These is the main aspect, which I desired to experience by doing an internship at SAATH; having a practical encounter with development and learn from an experienced organization.
SAATH asked me to do research on the quality of the anganwadi’s in Juhapura, which I immediately found an intriguing and motivating research topic. After a literature study in the Netherlands I came to Ahmedabad and had a warm and welcoming meet with SAATH. I started off with an extensive introduction of the organization, understanding their line of thought and their means of working. Soon I realized that the theoretical knowledge that I had granted to be so important had completely different meaning in practice. Moreover, certain features of Ahmedabad and Juhapura in specific, made some of the literature I had read unsuitable. When finalizing my internship, the art will be in combining the knowledge that I have gained from theory and the experiences I have in the field.
The first experiences with Juhapura were enchanting for me; the colourful streets of markets with all various products and the endless kindness of the people made me even more motivated to start with the research. After five weeks I started with conducting the actual interviews, which demanded some patience and innovative thinking. All together I have already had the experience I wanted; learn about the practical side of development and see that theoretical knowledge is not everything. Currently I am conducting the final interviews with the workers of the anganwadi’s, and many more interviews need to be done with the parents to formulate a complete overview. As I am only halfway my internship, I hope I can gather much more information and formulate a useful report for SAATH. I will let you know when I’m finished with this research!
Warm regards, Elle
This weekend (24th – 26th of March) a Craftroots exhibition will be held at Rajpath Club, Ahmedabad. (View invitation here: e-invitation-craftroots). Rweaves will be present at this exhibition, with a variety of Tangaliya, Patola, Khadi and Best-out-of-Waste products! To warm you up for this event, we’d like to give you some background information about Tangaliya.
Tangaliya is a weaving art native to the Dangashiya community of Surendranagar, Gujarat. The Dangashiya community is a mixed community of weavers and shepherds (Bharwad). The weavers made blankets and shawls out of sheep and goat wool for the shepherds to wear. They developed a special technique of weaving, also known as Dana work, only known to the Dangashiya community. Tiny dots of extra weft are twisted around a number of warp threads, giving an effect of bead embroidery to the fabric. This intricate process of twisting extra weft while weaving creates beautiful geometrical patterns and forms.
Tangaliya is woven on a pitloom: a small ans simple loom that is installed in a pit. The loom is operated by two footpedals (in the pit), leaving the hands of the weaver free for the dana-work. Traditionally, a tangaliya shawl is about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Shepherds wear it in the fields and their women wear It over a petticoat on special occasions. A traditional pitloom is 2 feet wide. To make a traditional shawl, a 20 feet long piece of fabric is cut in two and then the sides are stitched together.
Nowadays Tangaliya work is made in fine cotton and is used for a wide range of other products. Rweaves helps the artisans from SUVAS* to brand their products and to make contemporary designs to ensure them of a sustainable livelihoods. Recently Tangaliya obtained the GI tag (Geographical Indication), confirming the uniqueness of this weaving art.
If you want to see how Tangaliya is made, please visit Rweaves at the Craftroots exhibition. A loom will be installed and you can watch the artisans perform their weaving skills.
* SUVAS is a federation of rural artisans from Surendranagar, Gujarat. SUVAS is promoted by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Gandhinagar, in association with Saath Livelihood Services and CARE India.
Posted in Daily Dose of Saath
Tagged 2012, Ahmedabad, Craftroots, Daily Dose of Saath, Exhibition, NIFT, Rajpath Club, RWeaves, Saath Livelihood Services, SUVAS, Tangaliya