August – September 2018
by Golda Lenzin
Sampark is a NGO based in the heart of Bangalore. Sampark’s main objective lies on helping the vulnerable and poor members of the society by educational interventions and securing their legal rights. Three projects help to achieve their objectives. The largest project is to help founding Self-Help groups for women living in rural areas of Karnataka and Varanasi. The Self-Help group project aims to empower women by raising the financial literacy rate and leadership skills. The other two projects focus on the construction sites within Bangalore. They support the migrant construction workers in legal work and care about their children by building and equipping creches for them. The organization is well organized and growing. Few months ago, they gained access to more construction sites and therefore had to open another office in the north of the city. Apart from these activities Sampark also engages in research and evaluation studies on various development issues across India and South East Asia.
The internship was very rewarding as I was allowed to gain insights into all projects of them. They wanted me to understand their organization in depth and this included a trip to Koppal for several days and a field trip to Kaigal. The trip to Koppal helped me to understand the structure of the Self-Help groups and how they empower the women. Moreover, as I talked to many women who opened a business with the monetary help of the groups, I was able to see the results achieved. The trip to Kaigal offered me insights into a work of a trust that works with tribals and farmes in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh. They follow a different business model than Sampark, and therefore, it was very valuable for understanding Sampark’s work better. After several discussions with my supervisor Prameela, I focused my work on a study about the dietary habits of the migrant workers. My work included literature research about the topic, formulating relevant questions for the personal interviews as well as focus group discussions. Lastly, I evaluated the data gathered. I had a lot of freedom in deciding the direction of the study. At the mean time, Sampark offered me their resources. Their field workers led the focus group discussions and conducted the personal interviews. It was a challenging but at the same time a very rewarding job. The results from the statisical analysis are still in progress.
Life in Bangalore
Bangalore is a large and developed city in the south of India. Many multinational companies do own a branch in the city. The city offers everything you’ll need while getting it might not be as easy as in Switzerland. Going from one place to another quickly takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour due to the heavy traffic and that locations are spread out. Sampark is located in a friendly neighborhood and the accommodation is in a walkable distance from the office. The accommodation was very inexpensive for what I got. They offer 2 meals a day during week days and 3 during weekends. The rooms have their own bathrooms and are cleaned once a day from Monday through Friday. I decided to share my room and paid for 4 weeks around 160 Swiss Francs. I can only recommend to share the room as the girl I met made my whole India experience unforgettable. The transportation system is not as difficult as it seems but it takes some time to adjust. Ola and Uber are the easier way to go. What I enjoyed the most in Bangalore (apart from the work) were the new Indian friends I made and the Indian cuisine. Getting to know Indians showed me their local customs, traditions, and best places for food around our hostel.