Tag Archives: Internship 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

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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.

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.

An engaging experience with Saath, Parth Kapadia

Parth Kapadia is an engineering student currently studying at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University. He recently finished his summer internship with Saath. Given below is his experience of working with Saath.

My working with Saath was truly a mesmerising  experience. I worked with IMG_20140407_202532Saath from 15th May till 7th June. I was always keen on working for a social cause and a course from our college, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University gave me an opportunity to do the same. Our main aim was to get sensitised to the issues of slum dwellers, which by working as an intern at Saath really made it possible.  In a short period of 24 days I was exposed to the distressing condition of the slum dwelling people.

I started my internship at Saath with an orientation to all the programmes and initiatives taken up by Saath and was thoroughly convinced with the programmes  which demonstrated high level of transparency and accountability.

I was assigned a job under the Research, Documentation and Communication Cell (RDC). Because of this I was able to interact with the community people and was really touched with the dire condition  through which people have to find their way through. I made various case studies and talked to people of every age, from kids to elder citizens. It was a quite challenging task to prise things out of them and at the same time making sure that their sentiments and values are not hurt. Many people just happened to burst into tears while talking about their problems.

IMG_20140613_103739Parth with the CFS centre children

Alongside getting an insight of the people’s life I really learned values that we should be really thankful to God for what we have and never complain about it because there are many others who actually are craving for a life like what we have presently. I developed my interpersonal skills and got first hand experience of a professional environment which was quite overwhelming. I made new friends here and travelled across various places at Ahmedabad mainly the slums.

At particular I am most awestruck with the working of CFS which I felt is the most amazing programme taken up by Saath as it is rendering children with basic facilities of elementary education. The slum dwelling kids are so enthusiastic about it and they readily drop into CFS centers for learning new things everyday!

I would like to thank all the officials at Saath for heartily welcoming me and for such cordial behavior all throughout my days at Saath. It was really great working with all of the members at Saath.

 

3 months with Saath: Sam Bowers

Intro: Sam is from UK and is currently studying Masters in International Development from Utrecht University, Netherlands. He spent three months with Saath doing his research on the ‘Male Youth Experiences in the slum’ and given below is his experience in his own words.

My internship with Saath has been a truly unforgettable experience. I worked P1120555with the organisation from February-May 2014, conducting research for my Master’s thesis. My research focused on the experiences of male youth in slum communities in Ahmedabad, and how this can be used to inform and shape effective youth and gender policy and programmes. Saath’s youth programme – Youth Force – provided me with an ideal platform through which to talk to young men in the city, to hear their stories, and understand their views and perceptions.

Living in Ahmedabad was a little daunting at first, but I soon settled into this friendly, welcoming, and undoubtedly vivacious city. From the stunning ancient architecture and melting pot of cultures in the old city, to the high-rises, malls and cosmopolitan feel of the new city, it’s a place where contemporary India’s identity can really be felt. This was my first time in India, and I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to start. Ahmedabad, despite being a rambling metropolis of almost 7 million people, retains the mentality and charms of a small city.

I started my time here with an orientation in Saath’s various programmes, all of which demonstrate a high level of initiative, transparency, and accountability. I have been thoroughly impressed with the wide range of successful programmes the organisation operates. Following this, I was introduced to Abhishek, one of Youth Force’s local facilitators, who acted as my research assistant and translator. I am extremely grateful for all of his hard work, dedication and patience with me throughout the research process, I could not have done it without him!

My research involved in-depth interviews with young male members of Youth Force. It was a lengthy process, including some awkward moments when discussing women and gender, but overall it allowed me to gain a fascinating and invaluable insight into the lives and experiences of those I spoke to. Due to the demographic studied I was also given a real point for personal reflection. Presenting my research to various members of staff and youth leaders from across the state was most enjoyable and insightful; it’s been a while since one of my presentations has had such a captive and interested audience!

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Celebrating Holi with Youth Force

Alongside the research for my thesis, my time with Saath has also given me so much more. I’ve gained valuable professional and personal experience, made some great friends, and had the opportunity to visit some wonderful places and eat some fantastic food. Gujarati ice-cream was a particular highlight!

I’d like to thank everyone at Saath for making me feel so welcome and happy during my time in Ahmedabad, and especially Irbaaz for taking care of so many practical issues that I could never have begun to figure out alone! Additionally, I had the good fortune to be a part of Saath’s inspiring 25th anniversary celebrations, on which I would like to congratulate and commend them. While I’m excited for the next stage of my journey (four weeks travelling across India), I will miss my time here, and greatly look forward to my next visit!

Sam has his own blog about his time in India and if you would like to read more, here’s the link to his blog:

http://fourmonthsinthejewel.blogspot.in/

My experience with Saath: Shanna Patel

Introduction: Shanna recently graduated from the University of Oxford with a Masters degree in Contemporary India. She interned with Saath for three months. She spent six weeks working with Youth Force and six weeks on a paper for an upcoming programme.

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These last few months with Saath absolutely flew by. They were enjoyable, enriching and educational. The organisation does such meaningful work across Gujarat, which I saw first-hand and its impact stretches across into Rajasthan as well. I really admire the ethos behind Saath and congratulate them on their 25th year!

I was fortunate enough to work for the Youth Force programme for several weeks and this was a wonderful experience. I realised how many young lives Saath changes every day. For a few weeks of my internship, I was involved in documenting the work and impact of Youth Force through a film and this meant travelling to all the centres to capture the essence of the programme. I met dozens of young people who shared inspiring stories and experiences, and who unequivocally attributed their successes to Youth Force and the coordinators of the programme. I am especially thankful to Mr Paresh Sakariya, who made my time with Youth Force so worthwhile.

I also thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the Women’s Development Centre, a very meaningful project in Juhapura that provides a new lease of life to hundreds of vulnerable women. It was the programme of Saath that intrigued me the most and Saath’s interest in marginalised women is admirable. Saath’s programme offers a space and platform to women who would otherwise never have the opportunity to invest in themselves.

My experience at Saath went too quickly! I am especially thankful to Saath’s executive director, Keren Nazareth, who was a mentor and friend to me. She motivates the whole organisation so well and it was a pleasure to learn from her considerable experience. The RDC cell, Kunal, Irbaaz and Jenny – and Vama – were also a wealth of knowledge and are a really friendly bunch! I’m sad to be leaving Saath, but I hope to collaborate with Saath in the future and made some great friends here. Thank you!