Tag Archives: Ahmedabad

Creating Empowered Citizens

The Urban Resource Centres of Saath work as information, knowledge and resource hubs for the slum dwellers. They provide linkages for documentation and certification, government schemes and services, livelihoods and financial inclusion. Given below is the story of Salma Hanif Kukdawala, who has benefited through the centre.

45 years old Salma is a widow, whose husband died about a year ago in an accident. She is now the soul earning member of the family taking care of her 70 year old mother in law and 3 children (2 daughters and 1 son). Without losing any hope after her husbands death, she currently works as a domestic maid and stitches clothes in home through which she earns Rs. 1,000-1,500 per month, not enough to feed the family.

She came to know about the Urban Resource Centre run by Saath through one of her neighbours and visited the centre to inquire. The URC centre helped her in getting Income Certificate, Pan Card and BPL (Below Poverty Line) Card. She was linked with the Widow Pension Scheme through which she gets a support of Rs. 700 per month and the Widow certificate she has will be renewed every year along with her income certificate.

new-picture-14Salma with her son at the URC Centre

With the BPL card and Widow Certificate she will also get a one time help of Rs. 20,000 and she may be able to get a new house from the government as well for which the URC is currently working. The URC additionally helped her for getting a Ration Card through which she gets 6 liters of Kerosene every month from nearby ration store and the URC got her voting card information corrected as well. She has opened her Bank Account as well and getting scholarship of Rs. 400 per annum from government for her children. She was linked with Ma Amrutam Yojana of Government through which she now has health insurance coverage.

She says, “When I first approached the centre, I never knew so many schemes and services were available from the government for the benefit of the poor. Now I’m in a better position to support my family and am looking at further options to increase my income.”

 

Vinu takes charge of his life

Skills to Succeed programme was started with an aim to create opportunities for training disadvantaged youth who are dropouts or due to weak economic situation lack skills to hold a job to provide for their families. Given below is the story of Vinu who underwent the training and is now currently working as a Customer Service Executive in Reliance Insurance.

19 year old Vinu comes from the Santra village of Patan, where he has vinu-1-3completed his second year of Bachelors in Commerce. When asked about how he came to Ahmedabad, getting a bit emotional he shares, “I used to live with my parents and younger brother and our source of income was farming through which we were earning Rs. 70,000-80,000 annually. The fee for one semester of my college was Rs. 1,750 which was getting difficult to meet as our income wasn’t able to support both mine and my brother’s education. After this I decided to come to Ahmedabad in search of a job so that I can earn and pay for my own tuition fees. My decision at that time was opposed by my family, but I decided to come here anyway”.

Vinu’s older brother has lived in Ahmedabad for the past 8 years where he is currently working with Torrent Power on a contract basis as an electrical fitter. The work is available for only 8-10 days in a month from which he earns Rs. 7,000-8000 pm. Vinu’s brother was also initially against Vinu coming to Ahmedabad due to the irregularity of work but Vinu joined his brother as a helper and started assisting him in his work at the company. Talking about his early days in Ahmedabad he says, “Initially I got a little sacred as alcoholism is quite high in the area where I live, which took me by surprise.”  Vinu’s brother has been divorced once and his family had to go to court many times. Due to these frequent visits to court and talking with lawyers Vinu has decided to study law after completing his graduation.

Talking about Skills to Succeed Vinu says, “Initially for the first 3 months I was working with my brother after coming to Ahmedabad but wasn’t earning enough. Pravin Sir, (a facilitator at the Odhav centre) came to my home while doing home visits in the area and explained to me about the training course. I joined the course as I was assured I’ll get a job after completion of training. Initially the training was difficult and for the first few days I felt very alone. My English was weak, my communication skills were poor and I was afraid if I would ask questions in the class everyone will laugh. But gradually after encouragement from faculty and staff I started improving and learning and now my English is much better and I can understand and also respond in English but only to a certain extent,” he adds laughing. His faculty says that for the initial 10 days Vinu just sat in the corner during the class and didn’t interact with anyone. Special attention was given to him to open up and his participation was developed. He now finds it comparatively easier to communicate with customers. Nishantbhai who coordinates the project observed that Vinu now dresses in formals, has learnt how to knot a tie and has a much neater appearance, which is good for his work.

new-picture-14

After completion of the training, Vinu joined MyRecharge where he has been working as an independent retailer for the past one and half months providing recharge services to people through which he earns Rs. 4,000-5,000 per month. Vinu says. “The work needs a lot of networking and being interactive. As I work from home, I have to constantly market my services and talk with anyone I meet.” His supervisor is quite happy with the sales that he is making in the month. At the end of the interview surprisingly Vinu adds one more good news and says proudly, “I wanted to earn more to restart my education and for that I went to the campus interview which was recently organised by Saath itself date on 17th November 2014  and gave an interview to the Reliance Insurance Company. The interview was a new experience in which I was asked to sell a pen, which I did successfully. Now I’ve been selected and from tomorrow I’m starting a new job as a Customer Service Executive through which I will earn Rs. 6,000 pm. This will be additional to the work at MyRecharge.”

Vinu had moved on from his job at Reliance and currently is working with Saath. He joined Saath as a Youth Facilitator, guiding slum youth and conducting various activities with them and from then he moved to Saath’s Employment Exchange project where he generates linkages for jobs for the youth.

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.’

Breaking the Gender Stereotype

Through its Nirman project Saath has been working towards breaking the gender stereotypes regarding work. Through its Nirman project Saath has trained over 96 women as Masons. Saath has also started training women as Electricians a trade predominantly male and considered unconventional for women. Recently we have started speacial batches for training female electricians and have trained over 18 women as Electricians and given below is the story of Ashwini Parmar one of the Nirman trainee of the electrician batch in her own words.

There are seven members in my family which includes my mother, 2 sisters and 1 New Picture (2)brother and my uncle and aunt. My father passed away 10 years ago. My mother does housework, my uncle has a private job and we get pension of my grandfather through which we are able to earn Rs. 8,000 per month. I being the eldest child in my family had to become responsible at very young age.

I was always interested in working as an electrician and used to do small repair works within my home. When I came to know about the Nirman electrician training programme I decided to join it and got full support from my family to join the course. I learned a lot during the training and thoroughly enjoyed the course. In the future I want to start a small business on my own and currently will do some small electrician’s work within my neighbourhood.

IMG-20140812-WA0000Ashwini at the Nirman Centre

Through Nirman and Saath I also got an opportunity to travel and attend a workshop in Delhi where I got to meet other women like me who like me are doing jobs that are considered unconventional for women. These women are doing incredibly good and their strength and passion has also inspired me. The workshop was also a great exposure and an amazing learning experience that I will never forget.

Currently I’ve got a job working in Divya Bhaskar. Along with it I’ve been selected as a faculty in Nirman to teach the electrician course to other women joining the training. I’m really thankful to Saath and Nirman for putting so much trust and faith in me and I will do my best to meet up their expectations.