Mayuri Raval, 19, is a resident of Bapunagar, Ahmedabad and comes from a family of seven. Mayuri is a third year B.com student, studying at PD Pandya Commerce College and has to travel a distance of almost 10 Km daily to reach her college. Her father works at a textile finishing workshop while her elder brother is an estate agent (realtor). The monthly family income of Rs. 20,000 is enough to meet the demands of the family but it leaves no room for future savings or asset creation. Mayuri would return home from college at 12:00 and thus always had an ample amount of time left for other activities or for a part time job. She felt that instead of wasting her time she could utilize it and get a job and earn some extra money. Her elder sister who had witnessed one of the SAATH road shows suggested her to visit the UMEED Saraspur center. Mayuri visited the center and the trainers at the center gave her details about the courses offered, the timings, the charges of the program and other relevant details. Mayuri always had a keen interest in the nursing field however due to her mediocre performance at school level she was not able to pursue further education in the nursing field. She immediately enrolled her name for the BSPA – Bed Side Patient Assistance course at the center. The course timings of 1:30 to 5:30 were perfect for her as it meant that she did not have to miss out on her studies and also had ample amount of time left after the completion of the day’s lectures. She describes her experience as “The UMEED course acted as a turning point for me. It was an opportunity which I felt I had to grab. The first thing I learned at the center was that the main goal of a nurse should be to provide help to others, without thinking of any kind of personal gains. Along with training in the BSPA, I received training in spoken English, Basic Computers and Personality Development. To develop our social skills the trainers at the center conducted a number of activities on Saturdays which also gave me a chance to bond with my batch mates. On the completion of the course I got a job at Ashirwad hospital which is extremely near to my house and thus I do not have to waste my time on conveyance. I am able to balance my time between studies and the job and still have some time left for recreation. I hope to become a part of the Government nursing management programme in the near future”.
This story was documented by Ishan Bhatt, who interned at Saath for a month. He visited the field and met with youth from the Umeed Groups.
This is the story of a Youth who wants to become a Youth Icon and Saath’s Umeed and Youth Force have been instrumental for him in achieving his goal
About Umeed and Youth Force:
Umeed: Established in 2005, Umeed, the programme was formulated where young talented youth who due to social and economic constraints are not able to pursue their education ahead and thus are not eligible for employment are trained in various professional courses, which then makes them qualified for a salaried position at an organisation through a vigorous process of placement and counseling.
Youth Force: : Established in 2012, Youth Force is new change programme incorporated at SAATH which aims at providing a platform to the youth of the urban poor settlement. This program currently looks at forming Youth force groups where young talented youth gather discuss upon issues, plan and execute activities, drives and cultural programs forming a doorway to leisure activities as well as empowering them with confidence and problem solving practices.
Nineteen year old Rahul Makwana a resident of Behrampura, Ahmedabad comes from a family of four members. He is pursuing his Bachelors in Business Administration from G.L.S., Ahmedabad. Nitin’s father works full-time at an import export workshop and is earning Rs.10,000 every month which nowadays is not enough to meet the requirements of a four member family. Rahul came to know about the UMEED course through his neighbor who had already attended the tally course at the Behrampura UMEED center. He approached the center for the details of the courses like its structure and its fees. He had always had a keen interest in accounts and so decided to join the tally course. Rahul explains “Initially I did have my concerns and doubts about what and how would they teach in the course since the cost of the course was a minimalistic Rs. 500. The timings were never a constraint as I joined the course during the vacation period. Even after the college commenced my professors were extremely supportive of me and were ready to be flexible with my timings. The course structure itself was perfect for me. Along with training in tally I got a chance for personal development. I was always interested in event management and with the help of the UMEED trainers I was able to organize a talent show when our course was near its conclusion. The instructors gave me a free platform to speak and allowed free flow of views and ideas”. On the completion of the course Rahul got placed at a call center however after going for a week he quit. He felt the work atmosphere at the call-center was such that it did not leave any room for personal growth. He was then placed at an accounting firm by the UMEED PLACEMENT CELL where he received a pay of Rs.4500 per month.
Rahul decide to visit the UMEED center after a few months to collect his certificate. He had a chance meeting with Sandeep Panchal (Ahmedabad co-coordinator of Youth Force) who happened to be present at the center at the time of Rahuls visit. Rahul was immediately interested in the Youth Force. Rahul still had some doubts about the working of the Youth Force programme. Sandeep gave him an opportunity to attend the youth group meeting that was to take place the following weekend. The meeting had a profound effect on Rahul. Rahul enthusiastically enrolled himself in the youth force. Rahul voices his opinion on the programme, saying “It acts as a great platform for the youth from the slums to hone their natural talents and grow as individuals. This is instrumental in an individual’s growth. The Youth Force programme is instrumental in connecting youth and helps the individual in understanding the importance of team building and team work. For the economic and social growth of India the development of youth resource is utmost important. The programme also helps in instilling the qualities of team building and leadership skill development. One unique feature of the programme is that everyone is treated as equals may it be the team leader or a new member of the group”.
Along with his group of friends Rahul has been instrumental in the formation of an online shopping site Kharidijunction.com under the guidance of their professor. He now earns around Rs.15,000 a month. He explains “It is the attitude of a person which can decide his success. One should always have an adjusting attitude and should be open to everyone’s views. One should be curious to learn new things. Listening is an important key for growth. It is the mental blocks in our mindset which hinders our growth. It is also necessary to face ones fear rather than running away from them. The most important step to become successful is to first decide what success is. Different people have different perspectives on what can be defined as success. The word “I” should not exist in one’s dictionary. The word “I” should be replaced by “WE”.
In today’s time Rahul feels that the youth sometimes undervalues his own skills. Rahul draws inspiration from his icon Dhirubhai Ambani. The patriotic feeling in him is clearly reflected by the fire in his eyes. He wants to become a youth role model for all his peers who are still struggling to find their foot in the society.
There are 315 million young people aged 10-24 years in India, representing 30% of the country’s population. Youth empowerment is often addressed as a gateway to inter-generational equality, civic engagement and democracy building. It is essential to India’s social, political and economic growth. However most of the youth population nowadays struggles to find their identity and cement their place in the community. This is the story of one such youth who struggled to find her identity in the society but has now undergone a miraculous transformation and is now working rigorously to change the lives of many others.
Mamta Manubhai Patel, 23 is a resident of Meghaninagar. Her father passed away when she was an infant. The responsibility of the survival of Mamta and her younger brother fell on her mother’s shoulders. Mamta had always been a mediocre student through the primary schooling and flunked in her 10 board exams. Her mother was extremely supportive of her and guided her to work for a better future rather than lamenting in past failures. She realized early on in her life that if she would have to survive she would have to start working at an early age. She took up her first job at the age of 20 at a medical needle making workshop at a pay of Rs.2200 a month. After six months she quit her first job to become a librarian at a small library in Shahibaug. She received a pay of Rs. 4000 working as the librarian. However she was caught up in the monotonous web of life. She felt that she had no meaning in life. She felt that she did not have a concrete image in the society.
Since 2011 the field workers of SAATH have adopted a new strategy for marketing, i.e. Door to Door marketing strategy. One of these workers visited Mamta’s home and explained her mother in detail about the programme, its structure, fees and benefits. Mamta’s mother suggested her to join the course. Mamta too found the course tempting as she did not have any training in computers and the course gave her a chance to learn briefly about Computers, Spoken English and Personality Development. Also, came the added incentive of a better job opportunity after getting training in accounts. She was extremely satisfied with the course structure and it’s working. Another thing that she was fond of was the activities conducted on Saturdays. Mamta didn’t get a chance to attend college but the different days organized at the center allowed her to let go of the disappointment of not attending formal college. During one of the UMEED lectures, Sandeep Panchal the coordinator of Youth force programme in Ahmedabad visited the Meghaninagar center and talked to the UMEED participants about the concept of the Youth programme, its benefits and its mission. Mamta was immediately interested to join the Youth group. She remarks “I instantly felt a connection with the programme. I had already learned a lot of new concepts from the UMEED programme. It had also given me a platform to meet new people and make new friends. I felt that I had the skills and knowledge but however lacked the confidence to showcase them. I felt that by joining the youth group I could overcome my fears. I felt it could provide me with a platform to build my image and in the process help me become independent “. Mamta enrolled for the youth group. She would attend the UMEED lectures on weekdays and would attend the youth group meetings on weekends.
When the UMEED course concluded then instead of taking up a job immediately like her peers she decided that she wanted to become an active member of the youth group. She explains “I did not want to take up a job just for the sake of earning money. I wanted to become a part of an organization where I could get a chance to grow, experience the real world and build my own identity. I wanted to do something for others, something for my community and the members of my locality. Seeing her intense passion she was offered the position of team leader of Meghaninagar. She took the offer without a hitch”. She is having an amazing experience working at with the youth group. She got a chance to visit various recreational and spiritual landmarks of the city like Gandhi Ashram, Science Center etc. She remarks “Even though I have been born and brought up in the city of Ahmedabad, I never got the time to visit Gandhi ashram. The trip gave me an opportunity to relieve the independence struggle and Gandhiji’s sacrifice for the nation and the Gandhian values. In today’s world most of us have forgotten about the values that Gandhiji taught us. If we would sincerely follow his teachings then the world would be a better place”. She also got a chance to visit the different UMEED and youth force centers around the city to understand their way of working. She participated in the cleanliness campaign that was conducted by the youth group in Vatva.
Mamta has undergone a huge transformation since she has joined the youth force. There is an immense passion in her to bring about change in the society. She is extremely proud of her mother whose constant support has helped her become what she is today. She explains “I have become extremely confident today. I now want to channel my energy towards women empowerment. I want to initiate a movement against women exploitation. The traditions of dowry and child marriage have been going on for years in our Country. I want to put an end to these rituals. Women deserve an equal footing as men. I always motivate other girls of my age to be brave and follow their dreams. I have seen all my dreams come true since I have joined the youth force group. I am proud to be a member of the youth force. I am extremely proud of my mother who has worked every single day to provide me with a better life. If I can do it, anyone can”.
Mamta has become an inspiration for many girls of her age and for the youth of India. She would like to give one message to her fellow peers “Never be afraid to tell the truth. Never lose hope, with hard work and determination anything is possible. Everyone should get a chance to explore the outside world. You cannot learn if you remain locked up in the four walls of your house. Try to live not only for yourself but for others. Try to understand people rather than critiquing what they say. It is extremely important to become independent and self-sufficient. This is the time to build a platform for yourself and help others in building theirs”.
Story by Ishan Bhatt
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.
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
Last February a group of six students from Sweden visited our organization. They all shared their experiences with us. Read below the story of two students: Alice and Simon.
We are a group of six students from Global College in Sweden. In February we made a field study in Ahmedabad for two weeks. Our aim was to find out what youth’s dreams and aspirations were and what possibilities they had to achieve them. During our field study we interviewed a couple of girls from SAATH’s education program UMEED. The youths were very friendly and we made easy contact with the interpreters as well.
The interviews gave us an understanding of youths’ situation in the slums. We learnt how the society, the family and the norms affluence the youths’ dreams and their opportunities to achieve their dreams. We also got an insight of our own culture and could see similarities to the youths in Sweden.
SAATH were an exceptional organization to work with, they were very accommodating and flexible. They not only arranged youths we could interview and interpreters, but also could adjust the schedule to our specifications and made it possible for us to make home visits to the youths. Our contact person, Chetasi, was also very helpful. She could give us more information about Ahmedabad, the situation in the slums and about youth’s situation in society. She could also guide us in our work by suggesting questions we should ask and other perspectives we should look at.
Alice Harlin and Simon Rudholm