Tag Archives: India

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

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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.


When we visited India our friend asked us if we wanted to visit Saath. We already heard about the good work and projects of Saath so off course we wanted to visit the office.

First we went to a school (non-formal education) in a slum area in Vasna. This school is a place where child-labourers get a chance to get prepared for regular education. Our friend, who’s a researcher at Saath’s RDC, had the idea to make origami flowers….an Indian Lotus and a Dutch Tulip flower! After some practice we were ready to learn the kids how to make it! When we arrived all the kids sat nicely together listening to what the teacher was telling. When we showed them the origami paper everybody got excited. Demian turned out to be the best Tulip origami person. All the boys gathered around him. All the girls went to Simea and Jennecke to make lotusflowers. All the kids did a great job, some already knew how to fold flowers! The boys knew how to make airplanes…so many airplanes flew through the classroom 🙂

It was great fun, and we laughed a lot! At the end everybody received a nice sticker. We left some more so when somebody has a good result he or she receives a sticker! Saath really created the opportunity for these kids to go to school and it was fantastic to be a little part of that!

We continued our journey to the URC office of Saath in Vasna where we met the coordinator and three field-officers.They explained us about the projects and showed us drawings of a new project for affordable housing.

It was a great experience an we truly believe that Saath really makes a difference for a lot of people!

Thanks a lot for your hospitality!

Warm regards,

Demian and Jennecke

Tulip Telecom celebrates Joy of Giving!

To celebrate the Joy of Giving week, Tulip Telecom Ltd. decided to do something for a good cause. They approached Saath to help them realize their ideas. During one week employees of Tulip Telecom collected items like toys, clothes, packaged dry food and stationery for Saath’s Child Friendly Spaces for child-labourers (CFS). The collection was a succes and resulted in a station car stuffed with useful items! In total 250 children will be supplied with packaged dry food, slates, penboxes and books.

Last Tuesday a group of Tulip Telecom visited the CFS in Behrampura to distribute some of the collected goods to the children. The rest will be distributed among the remaining 7 CFS centres in the Ahmedabad Area.

On behalf of the children of the CFS we’d like to give a big thank you to the people from Tulip Telecom Ahmedabad!

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If you would like to organize a similar event or if you have other ideas to support one of our programmes, please contact the RDC unit at rdc@saath.orgor give us a call (079 26929827)
Financial donations are also welcome ofcourse! Visit our pledgepage at GiveIndia. Until the 20th of October, we will receive a matching grant for your donation!

Support my School Telethon

NDTV organizes a special event for the Support my School Campaign. On Sunday September 18 there will be a Telethon with Sachin Tendulkar, from 9 am to 9 pm on all NDTV channels. Last Friday NDTV was shooting for this event at Moti Kishol Primary School and Asalgam Primary School in Viramgam. And Saath’s RDC team was there too! The NDTV team interviewed students and teachers of both schools that participated in the SMS campaign.

NDTV in action: Interviewing a student at Moti Kishol Primary School

Support My School is a campaign initiated by NDTV and Coca Cola India and is supported by Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF). The campaign supports schools to improve the infrastructure at their sites. The main components are:
• improve water facilities
• improve sanitation facilities
• provide rain water harvesting
• improve facilities for sports
• facilitate landscaping

Saath’s role concerned the identification of schools and implementation of the programme. To ensure its sustainability, a follow up will be conducted after 6 months of implementation. In April this year Saath started the implementation of the Support My School campaign in 4 urban schools and 5 rural schools in Ahmedabad district.

Playground at Asalgam Primary School facilitated by the SMS campaign

On September 18 there will be a NDTV team stand by for live coverage at Goblej Primary School in Ahmedabad. You’re invited to come to the event or tune in on NDTV.

For more info visit the Support my School page at the NDTV website.

Supportive regards,
Chetasi & Simea – The RDC team

Youth Stories: Bismilla

Bismilla, at age 19, was brought up in a traditional household in Sankalit Nagar, H Ward, consisting of her father whom is a driver, a housewife mother, a married sister, and a brother who is a carpenter. Before joining with Saath, she was unable to leave her household by herself. She was shy, and was unable to communicate with other people. She was able to study up to her 10th standard, but unable to advance any further in education because she was unable to leave the house. Fortunately, about one year ago she came in contact with another young girl, whom was a part of the Youth Group, coming door-to-door telling people about the program, and asked Bismilla to join.  She had to decline because she knew her parents would disapprove. After the encounter however, the youth coordinator came and sat down with Bismilla’s parents, and told them of the advantage the Youth Program can bring, including developing personal skills and interacting with a network of local youth that experience the same everyday difficulties as do you. Hesitantly, they allowed her to go to one meeting.

She was very interested at the first meeting, and was able to convince her parents to allow her to attend more, and become actively involved in its programs including the 3 month long Cleanliness Campaign. She shared that one day the youth group had a picnic at Science City, and this became the first time she left her home, unescorted by her parents.

Later she joined the UMEED program, in order to train in customer relations and get a job. She would have never been allowed to work before, but after the youth coordinator sat down with her parents, they were willing to let this happen. Currently she works with India Infoline, earning Rs. 6000 monthly. Initially her father said no to it, because it was far away. Yet she stayed firm on her desires, with a new found confidence uncovered by the youth program, and persuaded her father to allow her. With such a good occupation, I found it hard to believe that just one year ago, she had no concept of a job, and didn’t even know what her father did for a living. It was only after her first meeting at the youth group, that her and her mother went to her father’s job, and asked questions and learned about what he actually did.

When asked about the transformation she experience as apart of the youth group, Bismilla said “before I was nothing,” and now she is a confident, self empowered young woman. Bismilla encourages other people to join the group, saying that it helps develop a better person out of you, and moreover develop a better community and society through individual growth.

This story was documented by Sagar Patel, 16 (US) who volunteered at Saath for a month. He visited the field and met with youth from the Azaad Youth  Groups.