Category Archives: Site Visit

A short visit to Saath

Seiko Okayama, a student of University of Tokyo, visited Saath in January for her research. This was her second trip to India and read below her story of her experience with Saath.

It was definitely a memorable experience for me to join the short research program at Saath this January.

As a student of South Asian area studies in the University of Tokyo, I had been looking for some suitable way to connect to the local society in Ahmedabad in order to know about the situation of the human development there in this research trip.

The staff of Saath kindly welcomed me while my visit was quite a sudden one and arranged good opportunities  for me to talk with the people in various communities. In the preparation meeting, Saath coordinators listened carefully to the purpose and the methods of my research and gave me many helpful advices on how to conduct it.

During the small discussion with Saath’s workers, they recommended me to visit two areas where Saath’s Urban Resource Centres were located so that I have interviews with the residents there through the help by the program workers.

When I visited those places for the first time, local people kindly accepted me and answered my questions about the issues they were facing in the daily lives. From the stories spoken by them, I could see how deeply they were thankful to the Saath’s activities, such as medical, financial and educational services which were essential for their lives.

IMG_0403Seiko at our Vasna Urban Resource Centre

Even after coming back to the headquarter office, workers who specialised in various empowerment programs kindly spared their times to answer my questions again, which helped me a lot to understand the background situation of the comments offered by the residents during the field interviews.

As a whole, the days I spent with Saath brought me quite important clues for the future research on the city of Ahmedabad.

Seiko Okayama

Advertisements

Visit from Disha Foundation

On the 17th and 18th of January Saath was visited by  a team of 7 people from The Disha Foundation, a Nasik based NGO working on Livelihood, health and related development issues in Nasik district since 2002. The aim of their visit was to observe, understand and learn the various activities of SAATH and to gain insight in real experiences in working with labourers. Given below is their experience of the visit with Saath written by Dr. Kartik Prabhu, Manager Research and Devvelopment, Disha Foundation.

The Disha team arrived at Ahmedabad in the evening on January 16th and visited the office on Jan 17th. We were warmly welcomed by the Research Documentation & Communication Coordinator team sharing their good wishes for the orientation and gave a very informative presentation regarding the activities of SAATH providing all the clarifications inquired by us.

Disha Team visited Umeed Training centre as soon as after the orientation session at the office. We were impressed by the Implementation modalities for the training program designed by the SAATH Team. The methods and steps are very systemic to target the real hard core marginalized communities providing technical support, supervision and monitor the changes whenever required for life term sustainability. We also visited the Saath Microfinance Cooperative on the same day. When we asked a women about the reason for forming saving groups they replied that savings provides a sense of ownership and assets.

New Picture (1) Disha Team interacting with Maheshbhai, Nirman Programme Coordinator

Second day visit enhanced with the association members of SAATH Mr. Divyang
Bhatnagar, CEO( MFI), Niraj Jani, Associate Director(Livelihood Services), Nitesh Oza, Livelihood Manager including Ms. Keren Nazareth, the Executive director of the organization. The Team then visited Urban Resource Centre, Vasna. The warm and rousing welcome given by the Youth Force at the Urban Resource Centre has etched an indelible impression on hearts of the Team members. The visit was organised for holding interactive sessions with the members of URC and the Youth Force, including the women folk on Training and Motivation services enhanced by SAATH.

New Picture (3)Disha Team interacting with Urban Resource Centre and Youth Force team

Conclusion

Overall the entire team felt this visit as an learning experience. We felt that the philosophy and practice of SAATH encompassing community cutting across class, caste and religion is unique and emblematic.

SAATH: As a special purpose vehicle have a very strong and effective autonomous organizational structure having equal number of Technical Team of young professionals willing to work in far flung rural areas, having close interaction with the community. They mobilize and help the community in preparation of plans, assessment, and selection & designing of appropriate cost effective activities, best suited to their need. Their roles are well defined. Management of services being shouldered by community itself and local level
solutions have been put in place which is cost effective, effective and rapid.
We would like to replicate similar activities in our own community as we deeply felt that the initiatives of SAATH can impact up on many lives. We were overwhelmed by the mass support, collective strength and temporal democratic paragons of SAATH which have permeated from top to bottom.

The field visit was a miracle and highly satisfactory for the Disha team. Based on this, we would like to convey our deep sensitive thanks to all the staff members for sharing their experience and managing requirements during the field visit.
We would like also to express our sincere thanks to Mr. Kunal Patel and Ms. Jenny Parekh for their supportive coordination from the beginning of the visit and their effort in arranging the visit.

New Picture (5)Disha Team with Youth Force members

Testimonials from Participants

Dr. Karthik Prabu, said, “Our experience in SAATH was entirely different. SAATH encompasses community from all religions and thus symbolizes the democratic system of India. We appreciate the entire procurement activities of SAATH under URC. Also it is amazing to see how people transformed themselves into a confidence hub in their career just with bold determination and collective strength. I also appreciate the Training education programs in SAATH.”

Mr. Kiran Kale,  Coordinator at Disha opined, “There are many things to learn from SAATH as it is working with a view to increase income and employment among the community and this is indeed a learning process for me“.

Ms. Rekha Sable, Assisstant MIRC Facilitator, Disha said “Visit to SAATH Organization was a real learning experience for us. We are keen to explore the possibility of replicating the Training model in our foundation”.

Visit Experience of Dan and Hannah from Global Giving

Last month in August two volunteers from Global Giving UK, Dan and Hannah visited Saath. They visited Saath on 12th August 2013 and stayed with us till 16th August.  As per our earlier conversation, their main focus was Saath’s Education Programme Child Friendly Spaces (CFS)” and help us in understanding and using the Global Giving portal more effectively to raise funds for our programmes on the portal.

Picture 039Dan and Hannah with our RDC team member Jenny

While in the beginning they were more focused on the CFS programme, but after getting to know about our different programmes, they showed interest in visiting our other education programme called Balghar. They visited one of our 7 Balghars in the Juhapura area and interacted with the children and our coordinator, Ms. Sanjidaben who is working with our organisation from last 11 years. They asked questions with an aim to get a thorough idea about Balghars and get field level workers’ focus and what encourages them to work for the community people.

After that Dan and Hannah focused on the working of the CFS programme thoroughly. They took information Saath’s HR Policies, Account Policies, etc. They met the programme coordinator Mr. Niraj Jani. Dan and Hannah visited our construction site classes like Devnandan Suprememe – Vastral, Swaminarayan Park –Naroda and Umang Lambha classes and also 2 of our slum based classes situated at Khodiyarnagar area. They interacted with children by asking their experience at classes and also asked questions to the centre coordinators to know about their experience with Saath, how long they are working, what encourages them for working with these children, what is their main focus while teaching, what strategies are used while teaching to different age group of children, how many children are enrolled in formal education, how drop out children are contacted again etc.

Picture 108Dan and Hannah at our Umang Lambha CFS center

The last day was for discussing the fundraising techniques, important guidelines for promoting project, which are the things which we can change to improve our project, the organization detailed working strategies and implementation techniques are discussed. Here’s their experience with Saath in their own words:

Dan Sheridan: “The CFS program is doing a great job at the construction sites and the hosting by Saath was amazing. The teachers and the coordinator were extremely informative and the community very welcoming.”

Hannah Sainsbury: “We had a really good time. It’s been very interesting and we hope that we’ve been useful. The staff has been really helpful and very friendly and we really enjoyed the field visits seeing CFS in action.”

The visit has been really helpful to Saath and we are positive that now we will be able to effectively promote our programmes through Global Giving. Many thanks to Dan and Hannah and to Global Giving for sending them.

If you want to see our Global Giving profile do click on the Global GIving link given on the top right side of the page beneath the calender.

Saath visited by EDI

Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) is an autonomous and not-for-profit institute set up in 1983. It’s mission is to increase the supply of new entrepreneurs through Education, Research & Training. On the 6th of July 13 students from the new batch of  ‘Business Entrepreneurship & In Development Studies’ visited Saath along with one of their Professors.

The aim of the visit was to give the new students an idea about how organizations work from the grass-root level. Their focus was to give the students exposure about how the not-for profit sector works, and how they run their individual programmes and implementing the same. They also wanted to visit a slum and see the real situation of the people living in slums and understand their problems.

IMG_0773EDI Students at Saath office

The students were given the overall presentation of the different programmes of Saath. The focus of the presentation was on the history of Saath and about how each individual programme was developed. The students asked the questions regarding the target group for programmes and lively discussions were done about the implementing strategies and steps taken by Saath so as to create an inclusive society as per its vision. After the presentation the students were taken to Vasna where they visited the Urban Resource Centre (URC) run by Saath. Here they interacted with our Staff members Geetaben and Ramilaben and learned from them about how Saath developed over the years from working on Education and Health to Slum infrastructure to Microfinance and the URC’s for the upliftment of the slums. After this they visited the Vasna area and interacted with various people of the area and learned about their problems and the work done by Saath in the area.

IMG_0780Students at our Vasna URC centre interactive with URC staff members Geetaben and Ramilaben

Here are the responses from some of the students:

I cam to know something new about the development sector from Saath. It was a pleasure to interact with the community. It is an excellent work that Saath is doing. I’m looking forward to meet and do combined work in development sector” – Sanjay Romala

My visit was really motivational. Saath is doing a commendable job reaching to the problems at grass root levels which affects development. Keep up the work!! Looking forward to working with Saath” – Niharika Bhatia

“The presentation was awesome and very informative and got to know a lot about Saath. The interaction with slum dwellers and people was an experience worth having.  Got to know about Saath’s work and it is impressive. Looking forward to work with Saath” – Mallika Bakshi

GANDHI FELLOWS’ VISIT

With a motive of ‘freedom from a conditioned existence’ known as Kaivalya in Indian spiritual thought, arrived 8 highly motivated their young leaders of the Gandhi fellowship programme in SAATH to understand our core value system and operational well being on field. A three day’s visit to our programme centres as well as an interactive session with our project co-ordinators and the group members was organised duly.

IMAG0695

On the first day, after a brief orientation on our organisation and the programmes they had the chance to interact with our Executive Director, Keren Nazareth who then unfolded the story behind Saath and how we have evolved as an organisation. The underlining fact which was the highlight of the interactive session was why there is an immediate need to cater to the needs of the ‘urban’ poor and underprivileged. With the interactive session coming to a conclusion we then lead the group to the URC i.e. Urban Resource Centre at Vasna for a field interface. Here they had the opportunity to meet and know the stories of the women involved with Saath and how URC as an aid has helped them empower their social as well economic well being. Later in the evening we headed to the URC centre at Juhapura, where they had a lively and healthy communication with Zuber Bhai, our programme co-ordinator who narrated stories on how he got involved with Saath and motivated his community to think rationally and talk and discuss about progress and women development in particular.

Day Two was one of the most interesting field visits. The whole day was scheduled to be spent at the UMEED centre at Behrampura where young talented youth who due to social and economic constraints were not able to pursue their education ahead and are not eligible for employment, are trained in Computers, Elementary English and are given professional training in various courses. The youth leaders from Gandhi fellowship shared their experience of motivation and inspiration with the students of the Umeed programme and in response; the students too shared their life stories and cleared their doubts regarding finding inner inspiration and motivation. An interactive session was then set up with the faculty and management at the centre and questions regarding the functions, operations and discrepancies faces were all well answered. In the evening then a vigorous session took place where the Youth Force a newly introduced programme posed their queries against the Gandhi fellows regarding group formation, involvement and structure was all discussed in great detail with rising levels of zeal and drive.

The last day was a day dedicated to introspection and feedback. A meeting again with the executive director was arranged where in healthy feedbacks were exchanged and our guests shared their experiences with Saath.

To see the pictures of this journey you can visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/saathahmedabad