Category Archives: Intern Stories

A walk down the memory lane, My Internship with Saath, Shmbhavi Sharma

Experiences in one’s life are the tiny steps that pave the way to what we become. Therefore, I have always believed that it is very important to have the right experiences in one’s life which enables us to grow as an individual and add on to our knowledge base. Interning with SAATH indeed has been a very fruitful and great learning experience.

shambhavi

I still remember my first day at SAATH.I was a little apprehensive of what was in store for me in the coming weeks. Having decided to do my summer internship with SAATH, I ventured into the terrains of an unknown city. On my first day at SAATH, I was oriented about the various projects run by the organisation in the various cities of Gujarat.I was introduced to the project coordinators and briefed about various projects in detail. The one thing that really struck me on my first day was the warmth exuded by everyone in the office. In the days that followed, I visited the centers of various projects run by Saath i.e. Saath Savings and Credit Cooperative, Balghars, Youth group resource centre, Child Friendly spaces in Vasna, Juhapura and Odhav. It provided me a glimpse into the kind of work Saath is doing in the urban slums of Ahmedabad for marginalized children, women, youth and for holistic community development. It was a thought provoking experience to go to the field and see the reality and hardships that people face in their everyday life marked by struggle and subversion of their rights. My main assignment was a detailed study about the Youth Force programme at Saath. I studied about some of the programmes for youth conducted by civil society organizations in India and abroad. Along with this I also interacted with the youth force team leaders, visited youth force centers and actively participated in the events conducted by the field team .I fondly remember during one such visit at Youth Force resource centre in Odhav, the Youth Force members shared their aspirations and how Youth Force programme has made a significant difference in their lives by giving them a platform to showcase their talent and strengthen their innate qualities along with providing them career guidance and motivation. The enthusiasm with which the group members participated in the activities and involved me gave an insight into the pivotal role that the programme is playing for shaping the youth’s future and personality. I also got a chance to work on the half yearly donor report and was pleased to be entrusted with such a responsibility as an intern. Throughout my internship one thing which I liked the most was the office atmosphere and the warmth shown by everyone. The smiling faces in office, the excited overtones, helpful voices and lunchtime round table discussions are all a memorable part of the wonderful time spent at Saath.

Another great experience was participating in the cultural event for Nivea’s CSR event which was held in collaboration with Saath. On a short notice we had to put up an educational skit and it was incredible to have been able to pull this in such a short duration of time.Directing and acting in the play was really exciting for me. Saath along with giving me an opportunity to hone my documentation skills also gave me a chance to showcase my extra-curricular talent. It was through the constant support and guidance of Saath team that I was able to successfully prepare an elaborate report on further improvement of Youth Force programme. This could have not been possible without the support, encouragement and guidance of Saath team.

I would especially like to thank Paromita Ma’am for searching new avenues and creating opportunities for my personal growth and learning. It was wonderful to have her as a mentor as she was always available for guidance and motivated me throughout the internship. Without her encouragement and valuable advice completion of the report and my personal learning would have been incomplete. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Irbaaz and Kunal Sir for my smooth induction as an intern and helping me as an intern to feel comfortable and get acquainted with working of Saath. Their guidance and support throughout the internship is much appreciated. Vama Ma’am thank you for believing in me and entrusting me with the responsibility of putting up a skit in such short duration of time. Also, I am thankful to Abhishek and Paresh sir for giving me an insight and helping me to understand Youth Force programme in detail and getting adequate field exposure for the same. Thank you Niraj sir for giving me a direction to initiate my learning process and mould my learning outcome. I was deeply touched by everyone’s simplicity and dedication and my interaction with everyone has been wonderful.

shambhavi 1Shambhavi, along with other interns  at Saath office

It was a beautiful journey of five weeks and I am glad that I chose Saath for my block field work internship. Saath as an organisation is doing incredible work for the marginalized section of the society with its holistic approach of intervention and empowerment. I would be more than happy to be of any help in the future and the time spent at Saath would always be cherished and remembered.

Shambhavi Sharma

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.’

My Journey with Saath, Subhika Sharma

Subhika Sharma is currently pursuing her Media studies from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications. She did a six months internship with Saath where she worked with Saath’s Udaan livelihood centre in Gandhinagar. Given below is her experience with Saath in his own words

My six week internship with SAATH was a mesmerizing experience for me. Shubhika SharmaThanks to my college Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, I got this marvelous opportunity to work with SAATH and do my share in the betterment of the society. Working at this NGO was more than just a “job” for me. It made me get to know about that part of our society that remains unseen and unheard.

My internship started with the basic orientation in which I was introduced to all the programs that are conducted by the NGO. I was also taken to most of these centers where I interacted with the program managers to have a better understanding of their work. My work was at UDAAN, a youth training center where I was assigned to interact as well as teach the unemployed youth the courses of life skills, personality development as well as the basic English speaking. Working at UDAAN was a life changing experience for me. I never thought in such a short period of time I would get so comfortable with the people. Not only the teaching, but the whole experience of interacting with them and getting to know them was completely fascinating. Initially I was a bit hesitant to talk to the students but as time passed by, it started becoming very easy for them to be able to open up with me. Also to overcome this gap, I made them do such activities which involved coming out of their shells and opening up with the others and making them realize they have people to share things with.

An 11th grader dreams of having his own retail shop someday, a mother of two children dreams of completing her PhD in Philosophy and becoming a lecturer, one graduate wants to join an NGO and participate in social work and so on there are millions of such dreams which were expressed by the students. It was amusing to know how everyone talked about having a great future with a respectful job and tons of money.

I started with writing a motivational thought and a new word in english with its meaning and use in sentence everyday on the board and later on explaining it to them. After their usual class, I used to take sessions in which I conducted various interactive, expressing as well as personality development activities. These activities usually involved getting to know oneself better and accepting the way you are. They also shed a light on emotional content that they shared comfortably with me and the rest of the group. Along with this, they also talked about their likes and dislikes, their interests, their dreams and regrets. I made them talk to me on one on one basis and encouraged them to practice ways of public speaking with a confidence.

Apart from life skills, I started with teaching them fundamentals of grammar, sentence formation, giving introduction as well as to have a telephonic conversation. I also conducted a few classes on spelling and pronunciations. Along with this, I gave them suggestions on how one should dress up during an interview and tips on how to carry them while sitting in front of the interviewer. I even gave them tips on how one should conduct them in a proper office environment that involved greeting their seniors and juniors and behaving in a particular way with their colleagues. On my last day, a bunch of students planned a surprise farewell for me and arranged cakes and snacks and presented me with token of best wishes.

New Picture (1)Subhika at the centre with staff

It was an amazing experience, in a nutshell. Not only I taught, I learned so much from them. Majority of them come from lower middle class and have heartwarming stories to tell. There are so many obstacles that they face and yet lead such an upbeat and positive lives. SAATH has been doing its best in working for the underprivileged. I feel honoured to be a part of this esteemed NGO. I would like to thank my mentors Mr. Kunal Patel, Miss Jenny Parekh, Mr. Nitesh Oza, Mr. Rajendra Prajapati and Miss Keren for being my guiding light throughout my journey with SAATH, Though my internship ended, I would always remember the time I spent here and would love to assist them in the near future as well.

Shubhika Sharma                                                                                                               S.Y. Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication                                                 Intern at SAATH

Incredible India. Really!

Roman Ungern-Sternberg is from Germany, and Engineering and Business student who came to Saath in September – 2014. He volunteered with Saath for 4 months and given below is his experience with Saath in his own words

New Picture

India –That made me think about Gandhi, Spices and friendly people when I applied for Saath.

Before I left to India one friend who lived there told me: “India is polarizing. Either it spits you out or it will soak you in.”

It was my first time in an NGO and my first time in India. And I would do it again.

At the beginning Irbaaz and Kunal showed me all the programs. Thank you again for all the field visits and the possibility to discuss with the people in the field.

Problems seem easy to solve but when you dig deeper it turns out infinitely complicated. Of course the slum dwellers would like to live in brick walled houses, but giving up the livelihood, the neighborhood and all the social contacts for that? No, thanks.

And even if such a resettlement is financially possible the life in a multi-story house is completely different to that in a slum. How should you know how all the things work if you never have seen it.

This is the same like me and the Rickshaws. You first have to learn the trick for not being cheated.

 

Trust you need

Saath’s strength is definitely community building and help for self-help. All the field workers live for several years in the same society and gained the trust of the people, they know each other. This is a long process but the only way to get the trust and willingness of the people.

But actually this is not surprising, or do you trust a random guy coming to your house and telling you how to live a better life?

“A lack of trust and information make a lot of programs fail” explain my mentors Kunal and Irbaaz from RDC, “and to build this you need time”.

Nirman Curriculum

After that overview I started working for the Nirman program. The curriculum was developed with Bosch India Foundation and is up to date. However a certification of a national agency would increase the reputation of the course – and thus the income of the workers. This meant a lot of paperwork for me, but we are on a good way.

New Website and picture database

Additionally we worked on a new website for Saath. Updating the old webpage was complicated and often done by an external agency. This caused friction and time loss.

The whole RDC team worked on the new page, we got feedback from the other departments, wrote new content, contacted sponsors and selected pictures. The site is almost done, I hope it will be soon online.

We needed a lot of new pictures for the site. So we updated the picture database and created a workflow to file and tag pictures. Now they can be found fast and easily by all team members.

We developed a guide and trained everybody in hands on – which is often more effective than plain paper.

Fascinating NGO

Saath is fascinating. I am happy that I had my internship in an NGO and especially that it was Saath. I do understand a lot of thing much better now, thanks to the contact and discussion with the local people.

And India? At the beginning it was really different. Chaotic and loud but also colorful and incredibly friendly and positive.

Things go upwards and even if a situation seems hopeless: You always get a smile back. Definitely Germans are able to learn a thing or two from India.

If you relax, India will soak you in cordially.

A memorable experience with SAATH :)

 Stuti Wadhwa is currently pursuing her Media studies from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications. She did her summer internship with Saath’s Research, Documentation and Communication Cell and given below is her experience with Saath in her own words.

My internship with SAATH has been incredibly wonderful. I never expected it to 10380304_10201371538085286_8979842940923944221_n be so exciting. I made new friends, had wonderful mentors to guide me throughout and also got a lot of exposure to learn.The general working atmosphere here at SAATH is so good and family like that I could very easily get absorbed here. My internship was only 6 weeks long,but was sufficient to develop a wonderful bond with all the people here at SAATH. My internship started with a basic orientation about the programs being run by SAATH post which, I was taken to visit the centres so that I could understand each program better. I also interacted with the community people and that was like adding icing to the cake, as I got a chance to hear about their experience from them itself. I was initially given the job of documentation of annual report and designing of the brochure of SAATH. It was a big responsibility and I took it as a challenge to accomplish.Around two weeks later; I was told to volunteer for a yearlong campaign being run by SAATH called Meghdhanush.

I was excited and gave in my inputs for the launch of the campaign. I was eventually given the responsibility of organizing the event under the guidance of Ms.VamaRajpal and Mr.NirajJani. This was surely a big challenge. We first had to look for a venue and so, approached various hotels for the same. Courtyard Marriott agreed to sponsor us for the launch of the campaign and this was amazing news for all of us. I had also gone to another hotel and fortunately, received a positive response from there too. They told us that they wish to collaborate with us on a long term basis. This was a big achievement for SAATH as well as me, as I never expected that I could get sponsors for the event. It immensely helped boost my self- confidence. We then called the kids, and the entire SAATH team put in their heart and soul to teach them, so they could perform well on the d-day. Also, I along with a co-intern was given the duty of compering the event. I was glad as I have always loved compering and SAATH gave me an opportunity to do that.

DSC_0111Stuti hosting the Meghdhanush event

It felt great when the kids whom I was teaching dance, got a perfume for me. I was very touched as they all came from vulnerable households but still, they contributed and got this very precious gift for me. This made me feel so special and loved.

On the day of the event, all the kids gave breath-taking performances. We were all spellbound. The campaign ended on a positive note and was a big success for all of us as the guests appreciated our hard work. After the event, I again started working on the annual report and social media promotion and now, the day has come when I have to leave.

These six weeks have been very memorable and enjoyable for me. I have made great friends in just 6 weeks and also, have had such great mentors. I would specially like to thank Kunal Sir, Irbaaz, Vama Ma’am, Jenny Ma’am, Niraj Sir and Keren Ma’am for being there to guide me throughout. I am also grateful to my fellow interns for giving me a wonderful surprise on my birthday and for making it so special. I never expected my internship to be so good.

I personally feel that SAATH is contributing wonderfully to the society; particularly to the underprivileged and downtrodden, and I felt vastly privileged to have got an opportunity to make my humble contribution to the society.

Even though my internship has formally come to an end, I would forever be there to assist SAATH wherever I can.