Tag Archives: Vasna

Visitors Thursdays: Friendly kids at the Child-Friendly Spaces

Here’s a story from Jesper and Ger, two travelers who visited our Child-Friendly Space in Vasna. Two interns (Jasmijn and Valeria) had organized a farewell party with a Dutch theme for the end of their internship. The travelers joined the party and had fun with the kids. 

During our six-month journey through Asia, we visited Ahmedabad because a Dutch friend of us lives there. Besides visiting the beautiful city with all its exciting alleys, gates and temples we also had the honour to witness the daily life of kids in one of the slums of Ahmedabad. Together with people from Saath and another Dutch girl, we contributed to the ‘Dutch day’, which was organized for children of the Child-Friendly Spaces in Vasna. Because of the effort of Saath these children get some valuable education instead of working fulltime in service of their parents.

We were struck by the sweetness of all these small children living in poor and for us unknown conditions. Still, we thought the children looked healthy and clean, in comparison with the children we met in one of the slums in Mumbai.

The first part of the day contained a PowerPoint presentation about the Netherlands. Probably the kids did not really realize where the Netherlands actually is and what it exactly is, but at least they enjoyed the show!

We were confronted with the bizarre daily life in the slums: the class had to move away rapidly because there was a ‘Besna’ close by. A neighbour had died that night and relatives from various places across the country, were visiting to pay their last respect to the deceased and his family. The classroom was going to be used to prepare the body for the funeral.

We moved to another place and went on with the programme. The children made some drawings about India for an exhibition in the Netherlands. We contributed to the ‘Netherlands day’ with a traditional Dutch game: ‘koekhappen’ (cookbiting). Pieces of cake on a string, and children have to reach and bite in the cake, blindfolded and with their hands on their back. In the beginning the children were shy, but after some time all of them wanted to try. There was a lot of laughter and this gave us a very good feeling.

We are grateful that Saath gave us the opportunity to witness one of their projects in Ahmedabad and to get to know these great kids. Thanks a lot.


Ger Ligthart and Jesper van Putten

'Koekhappen' (old Dutch game) with the children


Community Mondays: Joining School

Your daily dose of Saath today contains a story from the community. Neelam, a student at our Child Friendly Space in Vasna, shares her story. Child Friendly Spaces are non-formal school set ups for child-labourers. 

Neelam is an 8-year-old ambitious student at Vasna CFS. The center’s teacher, Jayshreeben, found Neelam selling vegetables in the street and invited her to join the school. She and her three siblings (Roshni, Neena, and Yug) have been attending Vasna CFS center since November 2009.

Neelam Waghela

When Neelam first joined, she did not know how to read and write, and did not like to play with her classmates. She also very much disliked  to speak in class. However, Neelam slowly became more confident and out-going, and now she actively participates in class. Learning reading and writing are her favorite subjects, and she also loves the snacks the teacher gives her.

Her mother Dayaben says that even when she feels very tired after helping with household tasks, she refuses to miss class. Dayaben says about her daughter, “Neelam is very intelligent and hard-working” and she is very confident that Neelam will do well in any formal school. Jayshreeben agrees with Neelam’s mother and pointed out that Neelam is actually ready to go into 3rd standard, but her parents cannot afford the tuition fees.

Given her strong motivation to studying, Neelam’s parents would like her to complete post-secondary school. Neelam said during an interview that she loves everything about her teacher and that in fact she would like to become a teacher herself when she grows up.

Work Wednesdays: Devuben’s story

On Work Wednesdays we bring you news about our programmes and stories about our people working in the community. For today’s daily dose of Saath this is the story of Devuben Parmar. Devuben is the co-ordinator of the Urban Resource Center in Vasna.

Devuben was born in a traditional family and brought up in a small village called Sapar, near Rajkot. At the age of 21 in 1985 she got married to her husband.
Life after marriage was a bit difficult because in Sapar they faced lot of draught and therefore the farming land was not doing well. Very shortly the business went under because his customers where not paying for the jobs he was doing and was left with a debt.
In 1990 Devuben and her husband decided to move to Ahmedabad in order to clear the debt and for a better life so decided to move to Pravinnager Guptanar, a slum area in Vasna.

Devuben’s first job was making khakras (a Gujarati snack). She stayed in this job for 2 to 3 year. Her monthly salary was low and to make ends meet she even sold her gold to pay off the original debt. Even then they were left with debt because of the interest, which incurred. She took up extra work in order to clear the debt, and joined a sewing class. To pay the fees she did small jobs around the school. As soon as she learnt to sew, she started to receive small jobs from the colony that helped her cover the cost of her household expenses.

She came in contact with Saath when she was pregnant with her first child. Saath was providing nutritional goods for the expectant mother to help nourish the unborn child.
In 1992 Devuben joined Saath as a teacher on the Balghars Programme. This is a programme, which offers young children up to the age of six in the slum areas basic education, health, and nutritional services. When Devuben joined the programme, she lacked enormous confidence; frightened of people around her because she did not feel as if she fitted in well and thought that she cannot speak on their level. However, her desire was to be able to offer a better future for her family one day. Devuben, her husband and her six-month-old daughter lived in rented accommodation in Vasna.
In the beginning it was very difficult to convince the local residents, however she managed to recruit 32 children in the class. Here she worked for almost four years, from which she received good feedback from the local community and people from the area started to see the benefit the education system was having on the young children. The children started receiving educational support and from this, they learnt discipline, cleanliness, numeric, and alphabets.

Rajendra Joshi, founder of Saath saw the impact that Devuben was making on the local community and suggested she got herself involved in the slum Networking Project for Guptanagar where she would gather local the community and talk to them about the upcoming facility they can have i.e. access to clean water, drainage facility, legal electricity etc. In this role, Devuben received a lot of verbal abuse from the local residents where they started to talk about her, and call her all sorts of names, this then resulted in arguments between her and her husband. These arguments went on for a while until he realized what a good job she did for the community.

After all the hard work of daily pursuing the community, Devuben managed to get some people on board and small payments was taken which was in the Seva Trust. Several months went by and no work had been started so people started to put pressure of Devuben and once again rumours started, this time, they were saying that she has taken our money and no work will be done in this area. The information was relayed back to Rajendra Joshi who then put pressure on AMC for the work to start. Soon after, the preparation started and the local community started seeing people from the local government attending the area to measure up and take relevant structural information.

Local women started approaching Devuben for work and useful knowledge, i.e. learn to read and write Guajarati, sewing, computer classes etc. Many women in her area did not leave their homes but having seen what Devuben has achieved, encouraged other women to follow her example. Devuben started a women’s organisation whereby they would come and talk about issues the women are facing. This was being operated with only 13 women from different communities and religion and now they have around 165 women. There were issues ranging from husbands who were addicted to alcohol and gambling to obtaining ration cards and registering birth etc. They would go back to their colony and talk about the support they are receiving to other woman and that is how the awareness was raised.

Devuben does not feel as if she is working, to her, this is her family and life; it is what she enjoys the most. She finds it rewarding and therefore will go out of her comfort zone to support people around her. Devuben’s vision is to be able to offer many slum areas in Ahmedabad the support she has been able to offer over the last 18-years. Increase people’s awareness and responsibility on handling money. She would like to obtain information about the ownership of Guptannagar’s land so residents can purchase where their homes are currently standing. This would help the residents in Vasna to upgrade their homes and have a better long-term future for their families.

Nutan Patel wrote up this story.

Charity Tuesdays: QX Limited’s Charity event

Last August a team from QX Ltd.  visited our Urban Resource Centre in Vasna. QX is a UK based outsourcing company that offers finance and accounts, recruitment and IT solutions. Shomindra Chakravarti, an employee from the Ahmedabad branch of QX, came up with the idea to collect clothes for underprivileged people living in slum areas. In total he and his colleagues have collected six boxes of clothes. Once the goods were collected, they needed someone to make sure the clothes would reach the right place.

To distribute the collected goods, they approached our organization. On their request we organized a meeting at Vasna’s URC. Devuben, the co-ordinator of the URC, made sure that the collected clothes  found their way to the people who needed them most. Since she works and lives in this area for years, she knew exactly which family was in need of what. Through her and her colleague’s efforts every single item found a useful second life.

Along with Devuben, the QX team distributed clothes in the community to the identified families. They were thrilled by the fact that each and every piece was measured precisely, to make sure it would find its perfect match. The interaction with the community and the knowledge that the collected clothes found suitable users, made this a successful event for QX, our organization and the community.

Are you inspired by this story and do you wish to organize a similar event? Please don’t hesitate to contact us and drop us a few lines with your idea at rdc@saath.org.


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