Sahaya Speaks: What is Sahaya Society?
Posted By: Rise Team|Dated: December 23, 2011
We are launching a series called “Living Rise” where we feature remarkable individuals and organizations that are making a difference in India and around the world.
We all want to make a difference, but don’t always know how to get started. Our goal through this series is to show you HOW other people have done it, so that you can get going yourself.
In our inaugural post, read about a group of friends who as students started a non-profit that educates over 3500 children in Andhra Pradesh.
As you read, notice a few things:
- The PROCESS they used to determine HOW to have a positive impact in India
- Their STRATEGY to recruit volunteers
- The challenges they faced starting out and now
- They are looking for volunteers! So, if you are interested, join Sahaya Society!
What is Sahaya Society?
Sahaya Society is an organization that pairs thousands of children who want and need to be educated with college students who have the energy, enthusiasm, and time to teach. We aspire to provide each child with a strong educational foundation in English, basic computer knowledge and life skills; a good time where children learn with joy; tools that they can use to create a future livelihood for themselves and prepare them for life. Sahaya encourages children to dream but more importantly, aspires to empower them to deliver on their dreams.
Four Core Areas Sahaya Society Focuses On
- Communicative English includes reading, writing, and speaking skills developed through a five-level, five-year program where volunteers spend two hours each week teaching a detailed, instruction-based curriculum.
- Basic Computer Skills is a hands-on program that exposes students in grades 6-10 to a quality education in basic computer skills and Internet applications.
- Essential Life Skills is a program that focuses on everything from personal hygiene to career guidance to personality development. They also offer an art class (SAHAYA art world) and a science fair.
- Occupational Events include sports, essay writing, drawing, and elocution events that teach themes that range from motivation and leadership to team- and confidence-building.
How did you come up with the idea of helping students?
A key takeaway here is that the founders looked at their own experiences—they could understand the challenges students face because they themselves were students.
We wanted to do something good for society, have an impact on real lives. We found educating everyone will cover all the aspects in the society which leads to develop each individual and society. So we wanted to help students only. So we motivated few of our classmates and formed a team of 6 members, convincing them that “together we can make a difference”. With volunteers and children in government schools, the next question became what to teach. The team met on one day and thought of all the issues and troubles they faced when they were in school.
The first very basic program emerged from these meetings – carrier guidance, general awareness and fun filled education. The aim – a good time for the children – was clear. A good time that would make a difference.
Once you had the idea, how did you get started?
Sahaya began in 2008 with a simple idea. Implementation of this simple idea was slightly more complex. Principal of the Government school MEDAK opened his doors and the Sahaya activities had found their first space. So we started. Formed a core group of individuals with the experience and interest to work for the society. Each individual was also allocated different spheres of responsibility and was accountable for the same. Then we recruited more volunteers.
How did you go about recruiting volunteers?
Notice that they didn’t just send out emails or post flyers, but went to the exact places where students would be.
We made a presentation to students from different colleges in various fests, inviting them to join our cause.
From this meet many students expressed interest in joining us. We organized a training session for our volunteers, in which we gave them an idea about what areas to cover in class, tips on how to handle students and how to interact with them in a better manner. By then we were a network with over 50 active trainers, helping more than two thousand children across eight government schools to improve their communication skills and English.
We now have a process with the name “Registration”, through which every volunteer will get registered of his/her own interest after attending our two sessions. Accordingly we are providing every volunteer with an ID card with a unique number. In 2008 we had 6 volunteers in one school, in 2009 that number grew to 50 at two schools—this is when we regularized the registration process. In 2010, we recruited 78 volunteers to teach at 5 schools, and in 2011 we have recruited 45 volunteers. Still, we have many volunteers, who are not registered yet, still under process and we are also getting equal number of new requests.
What were the biggest barriers to getting it started?
- Choosing appropriate platform with clear vision is the biggest challenge among all, where we can do the better justice and also helps out to solve other issues; here we found educating everyone will cover all the aspects in the society which leads to develop each individual and society.
- Categorization of Volunteers based on their interest and then work allocation
- Official permissions from respective managements
- Though we have very good enthusiasm and clear vision, but lack of planning at early stages of the society makes us to work very hard until it gets settled.
What about now–what are the biggest barriers to success?
- As far as now, we are very successful from the past three years in conducting sessions with utmost planning and care, but due to financial limitations, we stick to orthodox methods in teaching because of unavailability of latest technologies in our society.
- Professional Training from the experts in the respective field
- Lack of infrastructure
- Regularity of Volunteers
- Time Management
What has been the journey of Sahaya Society since it started in 2008?
In 2008, we started with 6 volunteers teaching at the government school MEDAK, where we wanted to decrease the dropout rate. In 2009, we focused on recruiting volunteers, recruiting 50 more, and we expanded our operations to two more schools.
In 2010, with the experience we had, we formulated our own syllabus in English and prepared the students for the use of computers in learning. Our first module, language awareness is now completed in most of schools and our children have reached a stage where computers can be successfully incorporated into their learning process. This year we recruited 78 volunteers, and expanded our operations to 5 more schools. Thus, we were working in 8 schools in and around Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh with over 100 volunteers, teaching 2500 children. From 2008 through 2010 we organized around 7 events involving all the kids.
Finally, in 2011, in one year, we increased the number of children we teach by 1000. We now teach 3500 children in 8 schools in and around Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh with over 173 volunteers. On this November 14th we were successfully able to launch libraries in few schools and trying to impart the habit of reading to every child. We are getting more number of volunteering requests from all over the AP which will help us to adopt more number of schools in near future.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out sahayasociety.org. To be featured in Living Rise, or to nominate someone, go to Living Rise.