Here’s a story from a faithful well-wisher of the organization, Sagar Patel. He worked for Saath as a volunteer for two months in 2010. Since then he became a regular online-donor. Read about his experience and motives below.
My name is Sagar Patel. I was an Ambassador Corps fellow from the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at my university in Caliornia in the United States for 2 months in 2010. I am a regular donor to Saath and wanted to describe my experience with Saath.
Volunteering at Saath was a phenomenal experience. I worked for the Umeed youth employability program, helping with the evaluation of the English language portion from the curriculum. I spent a lot of time interviewing faculty members at the Umeed centers and visiting a few English classes as part of my research. I helped teach the English class as a guest lecturer a few times at the Khadia Umeed center. I was very impressed by this program which trained slum youth for employment in entry level jobs in the service sector. It addressed a great need of the modern economy of India, and proved that these youth could contribute to society when given the opportunity.
I had the opportunity to visit all the urban programs in Ahmedabad and some of the rural programs in Dholka during orientation. One of the aspects of Saath which is unique is how integrated all of the programs are in its approach to development. For example, a single family may use multiple programs like the urban resource center, balghar (preschool), microfinance, and Umeed (livelihood training). In addition, Saath had developed a couple of very unique programs including home manager and the urban resource center which had not previously been developed anywhere else.
I saw firsthand the vast impact that the various programs have had on people living in the urban slums as well as rural areas. For example, I saw slum areas which had been completely transformed by the slum networking project where residents had access to all basic resources like metered electricity, housing, sanitation, and paved roads.
From the perspective of a donor, I like Saath’s social business model. It is more efficient than many charities because many of the programs are self-sustainable and don’t require donations or government funding after a certain point. The money donated can be recycled and go much further than in an organization which relies entirely on donations and government aid for income. Service users have to pay a fee for most services at Saath. Instead of giving handouts of food, clothes, and other basic necessities, Saath empowers people to be able to earn or borrow money and access basic resources. I feel that this type of community based development will help to reduce the problems of inequality in Indian society.
I have regularly donated to Saath using the globalgiving.org website. I have received in-depth and regular updates about the impact of my donations in Umeed as well as Child Friendly Spaces from the Research and Documentation Cell at Saath. It is nice to see such thoughtful effort put into documentation. When I made my first donation, I received a sweet message from Keren Nazareth (executive director) saying that I could meet with the children that I was helping the next time I come to Ahmedabad. I would like to thank everyone at Saath for all the hard work they’re doing to improve society and encourage others to support the noble work of Saath!