Seven participants from "Work In Freedom" program visited SEWA, Ahmadabad from 26th September to 8th October for an exposure visit. Objective of the Training was to understand the working mechanisms and the cooperatives structure, the management practices and involvement of members in planning and implementation. Also, to understand how after being organized at SEWA, the livelihood of the women have increased, thereby improving the quality of life of their families.
Participants had an opportunity to interact with members from different structures formed by women, associations, federations, dairy cooperatives, bank, leaders of union, artisans, farmer groups, women shareholders of companies promoted by SEWA, etc. The team also learnt about the training process at SEWA and interacted with the master trainers at the Community Learning Centers. Besides sister organizations of SEWA were also visited.
In all the visits, participants learnt about the struggle faced by members to reach the stage where they were and the efforts that they have put in and sacrifices they have made to achieve the success. Unity among SEWA members was a prominent feature. Experience sharing of the members at all Community Learning Business Resource Centers reflected unity which came from the mutual trust and the strong bond that members share.
The participants visited Shree Vanlakshmi Tree Growers' Cooperative, Ganeshpura which is a cooperative and an eco tourism center run and managed by women on 10 Acre land. Similar to other places, in cooperatives as well women had their struggle stories to share. It was shared by the Manager of the cooperative that through the time to time guidance provided by SEWA and the skill up gradation trainings by SEWA, members of the cooperative could reach till the present level. The sustainability of the organization was understood by the participants.
The participants were very impressed by interacting with the cooperative members from the milk Cooperative and tree growers' cooperative. They were impressed to know that all the members of the cooperative had a clear vision and were part of the planning, implementation and monitoring process. In the milk cooperative, they particularly liked the fat testing machine, which was used by women to measure the fat content. Participants decided to introduce this concept amongst the members at their individual work places enabling them to get more money for better quality of milk.
On the last day, during the wrap up session, when asked about the biggest learning participants would like to take back after this visit, all acknowledged the sense of ownership among members. Participants said that they were very keen to go back and share the experience and that each day has been a great learning.