Summer Program 2014

The three weeks in Soda started with the core team members of Asmat arriving to start preparing for the arrival of volunteers – checking the accommodation and food arrangements and starting the work.

Day 1 (26th of May) was spent discussing the need to focus on women and children with Sarpanch Rajawat’s mother who is also an active participant in all of the village’s projects – while the former are not so rigid in the viewpoints instilled in them as a child the latter are at an impressionable age ; their energy can be channelised in the right direction. The team members also met the Anganwadi Karyakartas of Soda ( 5 of them) and discussed the kind of work they do (mostly with children from age 0-6 years); It was decided to use them as a medium to communicate with the women , part of the SHGs, and motivate them to attend our sessions. The ‘Vanar Sena’ (group of young boys) was also mobilised to spread the word about our arrival and plans for intervention over the course of next three weeks.


Education 6.jpgStarting 27th of May 2014 every morning the team members and the volunteers when they subsequently arrived, conducted an English learning session with the children. They were divided into different groups as per their age/knowledge. Following is a description of these sessions :

Group based on standard

Number of children

Topics covered



  • Taught the alphabet

  • How to draw lines, circles and squares

  • Three letter words

UKG+1st and 2nd graders


  • Recognising the pronunciation of letters

  • Three letter words

  • Difference between alphabet and words

3rd + 4th + 5th graders


  • Taught singular plural

  • Articles

  • Punctuation

  • Before-after

  • Basic courtesy

6th graders and above (till grade 10)


  • Prepositions

  • Nouns

  • Homophones

  • Vowels

  • Shapes like pentagon, hexagon (meaning behind it) – focus on pronunciation

  • Adjectives

  • Articles

  • Mental math (addition, subtraction, multiplication)

  • Basic courtesy

These are the final numbers that escalated during the first 2-3 days and then remained more or less the same. With the arrival of volunteers , albeit the broader groups and topics covered were the same, further sub-division of groups was possible in order to reduce the teacher-student ratio and facilitate more effective teaching-learning.

Besides the morning sessions which were devoted to English, we also covered an array of topics that aimed at educating them through interactive games and learning aids such as hangman, simple acting, drawing and guessing games.

The topics we covered included:

1) Indian geography

2) General knowledge and trivia

3) Environmental Awareness and the importance of cleanliness through drives

4) Craft and arts

5) Stories of Panchtantra and story making

6) Dance and acting

7) Sports and games like cricket, dog in the bone, kabbaddi etc

8) Awareness about cruelty against animals

We also helped the eighth graders whose upcoming board exam was coming with their problems in Mathematics

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Below : Fun evening sessions; Academic Meet ; Geography Sessions ; Art Sessions


The 700 women of Soda have been organised into Self-Help Groups of ten each. While most of the 70 SHGs’ sole purpose is to pool in money together and save, many of the SHGs also produce and sell items. However this is not very financially sustainable due to a lack of knack of business and simple accounting, budgeting and costing skills.

Starting from 27th May 2014, we began working with 4 out of the many SHGs to understand their process; resources involved, cost of inputs, pricing strategy (if any), problems etc to work on finding solutions and improving their business and also to be able to further sell their products in Delhi. The four SHGs we worked with include:

1) Self Help Group producing Spices: This SHG consists of 4 women producing organic mirchi, haldi and dhaniya marketed under the brand name “Spices of Soda”. We made them aware about the various elements to be incorporated while costing their products (raw materials, labour cost, fixed cost) and the  importance of packaging in highlighting that theirs are pure organic products.

2) Tailoring SHGs: They are looking forward to working with SHG of bags  and willing to tailoring on a large scale if provided with raw material and links to sell their finished products. We also understood the kind of materials used for making bags, examination of samples. There are quite a few number of women engaged privately in stitching  and tailoring work. They mainly cater to the demand within the village and stitch only when someone demands so. Raw material is basically being provided by the customers themselves and each woman owns a separate sewing machine, which are 10-15 years old. They use machines run by hand currently.

3) Diyas SHG: We talked to three women belonging to the SHG making diyas and learnt that they are involved in painting and decorating the diyas and not in actually making the diyas.

The raw material is not being procured by the women themselves. Distribution and marketing of the painted and decorated diyas is also done by a third party. They have made a sale of their diyas once by sending it to Delhi at LSR Academic Congress stalls put by by Asmat India. Theirs is a seasonal demand and almost no one in Soda buys them. Thus finding them alternative handicrafts is the need of the hour.

4) Bags SHG:- They have made some samples of the cloth bags, but they weren’t able to sell any of them. They use a simple sewing machine run by hand and it takes around 1 hour to make a small cloth bag. Since they haven’t sold any of their bags  as of now, they didn’t know the price they should quote for their bags.

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 Talking to the women part of the SHGs in Village Soda


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In our interactions, while we do realised that the girls of the village  mostly do use sanitary pads, however there is a lot of stigma attached with menstruation.

We interacted with girls and women about female hygiene and menstrual cycle. We gave the biological explanation with the help of videos, breaking of myths about period blood being the effluence of ‘impure blood’ .

This session took place with batches of 5-6 girls at one time, and the session was replicated in different areas with different sets of girls.

Talking to the girls about menstruation – the biology behind it and the care that should be taken.
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The volunteers carried out the digitization (translating from Hindi to English and then transferring the same onto the computer) of the record of the following schemes (starting 2010) :


  • BRGF

  • SFC

  • TFC

  • MLA

  • LAD

  • UTF

TOTAL REACH (Total Population of Soda :




Teaching- learning session with children (morning + evening)

56 children

Members of each child’s family – Approximately 300 villagers

SHGs Intervention

10 women who came for the session

Other women part of the same SHG + other women part of different SHGs out of the total 70 present in the village

Sessions with Adolescent girls and women

40 girls and women

Other women in the village they spoke to it about – Approximately 100 women

Long term impact on the entire village becoming progressive

Digitization of Panchayat Documents

Benefit of smooth governance to the Panchayat – transparency in records

Benefit to all villagers