Tag Archives: Youth Force

The Journey of a grassroot feminist change maker

Born in a conservative community of Babaji’s (priests) of Gujarat, where girls are married off at tender age and education is a far cry for them, here is Mital, the bold and enthusiastic women, about to get inducted in the Gujarat police force due to her father’s unflinching support in wake of strong resistance from relatives and within the community. Mital in her twenties is from rural areas the sleepy town of Somnath in Junagadh, thrilled with joy and satisfaction for making it to the Gujarat State police forces after years of sustained efforts. Her father retired from service, and at present works as a temple priest. Her mother is a home maker, has 2 older sisters and one brother. She studied throughout from Gujarati medium. Babaji community has strong patriarchal influence, which does not encourage girls to educate themselves. Such regressive and backward thinking leads to young girls getting married off at a tender age, even before they attain puberty. So when her father decided to educate Mital and two other sisters, he had to face stiff opposition from his relatives but they did not toe their line and chose to educate them.

MitalAfter School, she decided to become police personnel, but there was lack of guidance. She pursued Masters of Social work, besides that she even appeared for police entrance again but could not clear the physical test because of lack of preparation. She joined a government NGO in Kutch near the Indo-Pak border as a community mobilizer after masters but her work was cut short, as her family felt the remote location was unsafe for her, so she came back.

After returning, when she was searching for jobs, she faced issues like eve-teasing her locality. Her work with the NGOs had changed her outlook towards such issues a lot, otherwise earlier her reaction would have been of indifference. She felt that the youth needs to be sensitized towards such issues and they should take the initiative. This led to her joining the Youth Force started by Saath, with a vision of empowering the urban slum youth. She got the chance of planning and implementing diverse activities for youth development as a member and in the capacity of a city coordinator of Rajkot. During her work she found numerous issues of gender biases in the community, which affected her work with the youth groups and especially female members who were not allowed to participate freely. The leadership training, workshops and trips along with the experience of youth force transformed her into a feminist youth change maker.

She again started preparing for the competition and the challenge was even tougher this time on, since she was working simultaneously. She clearly planned out her daily schedule keeping in mind her strengths and grey areas. After following the tough schedule for 6 months, she was selected as armed constable by the selection committee. Mital proudly says, “There is no alternative to hard work. Success comes only to those who work hard for it. Success comes to those who relentlessly move on irrespective of challenging circumstances. Without the support of my parents, and the exposure at Saath, it would not have been possible.” Mital looking back in the past says, “If my father had not taken a stand for us, then even I would have been married off at tender age without any life of my own and led a life like any other girl in our community. Mital plans to prepare for the civil service exams, which is her next milestone.

Empowering vulnerable youth through entrepreneurship training

30 years old Ms. Ranjan Solanki is a resident of Kosad area of Surat and is a member of Saath’s Youth Force initiative. She has taken micro entrepreneurship through the programme and now earns Rs. 3,500 per month.

Ranjan used to live in Ashoknagar, Katargam area of Surat, where she and her New Picture (3)husband ran a grain shop. They were very happy in the area and their business was running good. When the Surat Municipal Corporation decided to demolish their slum area, they were promised to give new house in other area. After the demolition they were provided a house in the Kosad area which is at quite far from the city centre. Due to this Ranjan and her husband lost their business, and Ranjan was left with a lot of other issues as well due to shifting in the outskirts of the city.

The main issue faced was of livelihood. They had lost their business and did not know what to do. The financial problems also started as they were using up their savings very fast. During this time Ranjan came to know about a micro entrepreneur training organised by Youth Force and she was advised to join the training. At that time she was not sure about the joining the training but Shital the youth leader convinced her by explaining the importance of training for her future.

She spoke with her husband about the training and he said to her to join the training program. The training program lasted for 4 days and she was very happy with the knowledge she gained during the sessions. She got an idea to start a new business. Before the training she used to work in hospitals and in the houses but wans’t able to earn enough money. Now she has started her own venture and she sells vegetables and is able to earn Rs. 3,500 per month. She is now in a better position to support her family.

Talking about her experience she says, “I am thankful to Youth Force for giving me training through which I gained enough confidence of starting my own business and now I want to move ahead in life. I want to grow my business and I am planning for the future. I am very happy that I am also contributing to my family. Our life is now slowly coming back on track. Saath is doing very good work which is really helpful to people everywhere. Thank you 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!


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:


Youth Force’s outlook fascinates me: Sagar

Sagar Patel worked with Saath as a volunteer in 2010 and since than has become a regular online donor. He is a faithful well – wisher of the organisation and recently visited Saath on 12th February, 2014. He visited the Youth Force programme and given here’s his experience of the visit in his own words.

I recently visited Saath’s Youthforce program at an Odhav center in February 8along with two visitors from the United States. In the past, I had volunteered with Saath, and I now continue to support Saath as a donor. We met with youth who are personally involved in the program. I did not have much background knowledge about the program other than a video which I had seen online about the program. Upon meeting with the students, I found that this is a wonderful, unique program.

Both the Odhav center coordinator and one of the project leaders from the Saath head office were present. They started by giving me some basic background information about the program. After this, I interacted with a group of about 10 members who were living in that area of Ahmedabad. I asked them first how they had benefited from the program, and from this discussion and further questions I came to learn more about the program.

One of the youth described working on a project as a team to clean the riverfront around the Sabarmati River and educate residents about the harmful effects of throwing garbage in the river. Another project which the youth were involved in was creating a community garden area from an area which was previously filled with garbage. This project was something new which no one had done before, and it helped to develop their ability to work as a team in addition to learning new skills. One member talked about how the youth gain leadership skills and experience with public speaking. Some youth had gone out Ahmedabad for the first time to Mumbai for leadership training. One young woman told me that she had always been afraid to travel on a bus and had lost that fear as a result of the program.

7Sagar (rightmost) at the Odhav Youth Force centre

I was quite impressed with the networking opportunities that the youth receive and the confidence and sense of accomplishment which they exhibited. I found the whole concept of this practical education which aims to not just develop new skills to perform a job but also encourages youth to try new things which excite them to be fascinating. Youthforce helps to address an unmet need in an educational system which is focused too much on rote memorization. I will be excited to come back the next time I am back in Ahmedabad to visit the program again.

International Women’s Day Celebration by Youth Force Rajkot

Guest Post by Mital Gondaliya, Rajkot Youth Force Coordinator

તા: ૮ માર્ચ ૨૦૧૪ ના રોજ આંતરરાષ્ટ્રીય મહિલા દિવસ નિમિતે સાથ ચેરીટેબલ ટ્રસ્ટ અને રાજકોટ યુથ ફોર્સ પ્રોગ્રામ દ્વારા રાજકોટ ખાતે મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી કરવામાં આવી હતી. આપને જાણીએ છીએ ક ૮ માર્ચ એટલે આંતરરાષ્ટ્રીય મહિલા દિવસ પરંતુ આ દિવસ ૮ માર્ચે ઉજવવા પાછળ નું કારણ એ છે કે ૮ માર્ચ ના દિવસે મહિલા ઓને આપવામાં આવતા અધિકારો ને સંવિધાન માં લેખિત સ્વરૂપ માં મંજૂરી આપવામાં આવી હતી.

પરંતુ આજે પણ કેટલીય મહિલા ઓ ને દહેજ ના લીધે તેમજ પુત્ર જન્મ ના થવા ના લીધે, ઘરેલું હિંસા નો ભોગ બનવું પડે છે. તો શું આપને કહી શકીએ છીએ કે આજની મહિલા સશક્ત બની છે? અને સશક્ત થવા માટે મહિલા એ જાગૃત થવું પડશે પોતાના હક અને અધિકારો વિશે. તેના પર થતા અત્યાચારો પ્રત્યે આવાજ ઉઠાવવો પડશે. તો જ ખરા અર્થ માં નારી સશક્તિકરણ થયું ગણાશે. અને આ જાગૃતિ લાવવાના હેતુ સાથે યુથ ફોર્સ રાજકોટ દ્વારા મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી કરવામાં આવી હતી.

New Picture (1)

મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી અંતર્ગત મુખ્ય મહેમાન માં કણસાગરા કોલેજ ના એમ.એસ.ડબલ્યુ. વિભાગ ના પ્રિન્સીપાલ ડોક્ટર અનસુયા અકબરી જેમણે આવેલ મહિલાઓનો પોતાના હક અધિકાર માટે શું કરવું જોઈએ અને નારી શક્તિ શું કરી શકે છે તે વિષે પ્રવચન આપેલું હતું.

New Picture

ત્યાર બાદ રાજકોટ શહેર ના નામી ગાયનેકોલોજિસ્ટ ડોક્ટર પ્રતિક્ષાબેન કે જેવો ૧૫૦ ફૂટ રીંગ રોડ પર પોતાનું મેટરનીટી હોસ્પિટલ પણ ધરાવે છે. તેવો એ મહિલા ઓ એ પોતાની સર સંભાળ અને સ્વશ્ય ની જાળવણી કઈ રીતે કરવી તે અંગે માર્ગદર્શન આપ્યું હતું. તેઓના મત મુજબ મહિલા ઓ આખો દિવસ પોતાના કામ માં વ્યસ્ત રેહતી હોય છે. જેના લીધે તે પોતાના સ્વાસ્થ્ય ની સર સંભાળ રાખવા નું તો સાવ ભૂલી જ જતી હોય છે. આથી તેવો આવેલ સ્ત્રીઓ ને તેમના શારીરિક અને માનસિક રીતે તેમના સ્વાસ્થ્ય ની જાળવણી કઈ રીતે કરવી તે અંગે માર્ગદર્શન આપ્યું હતું.

અને ત્રીજા વક્તા તરીકે શાંતિનિકેતન કોલેજ ના પ્રાધ્યાપક આંનદભાઈ એ ઠાકુર આવેલા હતા. તેઓ એ મહિલા શિક્ષણ અને મહિલા સશક્તિકરણ વિશે વાત કરી હતી ઉપરાંત મહિલા ઓ ના કામ કાજી તંત્ર અને સ્ત્રી શિક્ષણ માં આવેલ પરિવર્તન અંગે પણ વાત કરી હતી.

અને ત્યાર બાદ યુથ ફોર્સ ના મેમ્બર્સ દ્વારા સ્ત્રી જાગૃતિ માટે એક નાટક પણ રજુ કરવામાં આવ્યું હતું કે જેમાં મહિલાઓ ને ઘર ની બહાર નીકળવામાં પડતી મુશ્કેલીઓ કે જેમાં ઘણા અસામાજિક તત્વો સ્ત્રીઓ ને હેરાન કરતા હોય છે. અને આ આવા અસામાજિક તત્વો નો સામનો કઈ રીતે કરવો તેને અંગે નું માર્ગદર્શન આપવામાં આવ્યું હતું.