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Site Visit Report, August 23, 2017

Asha Community Center, Swadhar, Pune, INDIA

Visit Conducted by Vivek Iyer

Conducted a site visit to Asha Community Center, part of Swadhar IDWC, located at Kakade Basti in Bibwewadi, Pune. Coordinated the visit through Dr. Suneeti Sarangpani, convenor for the project and on the management committee of Swadhar.

First stop of our visit was the main site at Asha Community Center, which houses the office for the project coordinator, Gowri Sakat and the main classroom.  Primary activities conducted at this site are Abhyasika, which is essentially space for students to do their school work and read library books and Phulora, which is essentially vocational skills classes for young women.

Abhyasika attracts about 40 kids evenly split between boys and girls. Most of the kids are younger kids that attend nearby government primary school.  They showed us the class materials and supplementary educational kits such as puzzles, picture words and alphabets, math materials, etc. They also indicated that many of the educational supplies such as puzzles were actually prepared on site with the help of kids given funding limitations.  We met the primary teacher on site who had been there for a year now.  She lives further away and comes part time from around 9am to 1pm. 

Subsequently, Dr Sarangpani and Ms Sakat took us to visit Balwadi, their daycare center nearby in the same basti.  We were greeted by about 25 kids, mostly younger kids around 3-4 year old. This location houses the main Balwadi and an office, where they keep supplies and snacks for kids. Kids are children of migrant laborers, and bring lunch with them and get snack provided by Swadhar.  We met the regular Balwadi teacher who had the kids sing individually and in groups based on the things she was teaching them.  They also have a substitute teacher who is being trained to teach younger children (she is the primary teacher for Phulora).  This location does not have toilet facilities for the kids and they are currently negotiating with landlord to build toilet in exchange for slightly higher rent.  The team showed us all the documentation they maintain related to attendance, kids and parents paperwork, etc. in addition to all the educational materials and supplies.

We returned back to the main location just in time for the Phulora classes to begin. There were about 4 girls who were attending that day for beautician skill classes.  They typically get about 5-10 women who attend these 3 month skill building classes in tailoring, beautician, knitting and other art skills. At the end of the 3 month session, they get a certificate which allows the women to become qualified to register for advanced skill classes outside.  Many of the women they indicated also start their own home based small business that allows them to start earning immediately.  They charge a fee of INR 500 for the 3 month program, which is the only program that is not free.  Most of the women recover those costs within a couple of months at most.  

Towards the end of the site visit, they showed us all the financial documents they maintain including the expenditures log, payroll and provident fund details, receipt books, etc. In addition they also showed is the overall attendance log and other relevant paperwork they maintain in the course of their operations.

Dr Sranangpani indicated they are happy with the printer provided by Asha and they would love to have a simple digital camera for about INR 10,000. She also indicated their operations are going fine and mostly in steady state mode given long history of running the center. She indicated they have their updated budget which she will send across and indicated there is a slight increase in conveyance costs offset by reduction in contingency amounts.

Approximately $1095 was raised for Swadhar as part of WAH initiative by Asha in 2016.  These funds have not reached Swadhar and are awaiting disbursal from central treasury at Asha pending some additional documentation.

Overall very productive site visit and meeting with the local team.  Look forward to continued support of the good work being done for the women and children at Kakade basti in Bibwewadi Pune.