This week I will be ending my volunteer placement with Shaishav, a child rights organisation working in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. I have been working with Shaishav since May 2011, originally coming for a 6-month placement through 2Way Development. Once this original period had ended I extended my stay for another 6 months, and then another 6 months after that. Since July I have been combining this volunteer work with my part-time work for 2Way Development, resulting in a fascinating combination of roles. I am now finally reaching the end of my time with Shaishav and in Bhavnagar, and couldn’t have asked for a better, more useful and more rewarding experience.
My time with Shaishav has been spent working on a wide variety of different communications, documentation and fundraising projects. This has included regular and ongoing small tasks along with major one-off projects. One of my biggest projects has been the co-writing of a major report documenting the processes and history of Balsena, Shaishav’s children’s collective, since it’s inauguration in 2003. Another has been the analysis and write-up of a baseline survey covering almost 20,000 children in Bhavnagar. This involved cleaning up the data, organising it into tables, analysing the results and writing up the findings.
These major projects have been supplemented by various smaller tasks. One of the most regular of these tasks has been in writing the quarterly and half-yearly progress reports required by most of Shaishav’s funders. Another has been in preparing various funding proposals to provide future funding for Shaishav’s work. In order to diversify Shaishav’s funding base to include individual private donations along with a small number of large institutional funding sources, I registered Shaishav with GlobalGiving UK, and successfully navigated the organisation through the Gateway Challenge, raising £2,500 in a month and resulting in a permanent presence for Shaishav on GlobalGiving UK’s website.
My time has included work on various different promotional materials, including writing and assisting in the design of brochures for Shaishav and Balsena, preparing the organisation’s 2010-11 Annual Report, improving the website’s contents and design and creating Shaishav’s presence on Facebook. I have assisted in the preparation work for a major external review of Shaishav’s work, undertaken in 2011. Finally, I have represented Shaishav at a national level project partner meeting for one of our funding organisations in Madhya Pradesh, and have supervised the work of other international volunteers.
When I originally came to Shaishav I was just out of university with very little practical overseas experience. My time with Shaishav has given me a strong grounding in many of the roles and responsibilities of development work, and has definitely been a life-altering experience. I am sure that the skills that I have developed through Shaishav will be an excellent grounding for my future employment, and I have developed a great love for India and it’s people. Though I am leaving Shaishav, I wont be going far. I will be starting a part-time volunteer placement with Seva Mandir in Udaipur, less than 500km away. I hope I will have plenty of opportunities to come back to Shaishav and Bhavnagar.