During a time when the whole world was reeling under the pandemic-induced lockdowns, three students decided to lend a helping hand to villagers.
SAATHI, an initiative by Mehek Vora, Mahika Kanodia, and Krishaangh Kumar, started its journey in 2020. These youngsters came together to help and support the villagers of Kond about 150 km from Mumbai.
Starting with a financial literacy workshop, the various aspects of well-being such as menstrual hygiene, medical assistance, agricultural resources, ration, educational materials, sanitation, blanket, and umbrellas, to name a few, were taken care of.
They learnt about the struggles and challenges in utilising digital wallets and online banking from their househelps and their families in the village during the Covid-19 lockdown. The trio then designed and assembled a financial literacy workshop to educate the villagers. They travelled to Kond where they conducted multiple sessions on the same.
Ashok Sathe, a senior citizen of Kond, expressed, “Learning and using Paytm and Gpay has been extremely beneficial and convenient for daily transactions.”
In conversation with the villagers, it dawned upon the team that a holistic approach to the welfare of the citizens was required. They made frequent visits to Kond.
Talking about the initiative, Mehek Vora from Hill Spring International School said, “Menstrual awareness was needed in the village because young girls would miss going to school every month due to embarrassment and lack of menstrual products. The menstrual hygiene awareness programme conducted by us gave the young girls an opportunity to share and clear their doubts about menstruation and build the confidence to go to school. Personally, empowering these girls was an impactful and touching experience.”
Kond village has a large population of senior citizens with health issues. In the past, taking an ailing elderly citizen to the ambulance parked about 500m away was a challenge. Krishaangh Kumar from The Cathedral and John Connon School stated, “Our team recognised the need for a wheelchair and a walker along with daily medical supplies and provided the same.”
Further, Kond village lacks proper sanitation facilities. The SAATHI team organised the installation of flush tanks for toilets and appropriate plumbing to facilitate the proper disposal of human waste.
Mahika Kanodia from Aditya Birla World Academy remarked, “A means to an end... that’s what agricultural resources are to farming communities. We worked with them to recognise what they needed for a better yield, and procured good quality seeds and fertilisers.”
The SAATHI team is moving from strength to strength as it continues to embrace and support the village community toward a better living.