Reflections from the Jatan participants

What I learned, what I am feeling?

“I felt so sad when I heard that my passport would not be ready till our journey. I thought I will miss this opportunity. From the grace of God and efforts of Lakshmi madam and Kailash Sir I have got my passport at last. My dream has fulfilled.

I think Jatan has selected me on the basis of my experiences of 5-6 years in the sector of health. The other dream of my life has fulfilled was sitting in aero plane. I was so excited when I entered in the plan. When the flight was take offing I was scared  and  caught  Manju  ji’s  hand  tightly  who  was  sitting  beside  me.  I  enjoyed my first journey in plane a lot.

I am so impressed with FGAE work, particularly the youth groups. They were inspiring for me. I have noticed that the status of women is not good there. I saw one woman who loaded woods on her back and felt so sad for her. I am feeling there is many work to do with the children as well as for the women.

I have learnt how to keep engage young people through cultural activities and games. I will do same thing with my groups in my field area.

I wish I could get a chance to go once again to Ethiopia”


“I felt so good when I got the news that I have been selected for this trip. I have been associated with Jatan since its inception. After 15 years of experience I have got this opportunity. I was thinking, I 

will see the culture of other country.

Jatan selected me for this trip because of my long time association with it. This was the first time when I was travelling to aboard in International flight.

I was highly impressed with the work and dedication of FGAE team. They implemented field activities so well. I have noticed that the number of children in rural family is too high.

In my opinion there should be design some program of skill development training for youth to make them financially independent.

I learn how to implement the program at large level from FGAE team. They covered very huge geographical area in Ethiopia.

This tour was memorable for me. I have got opportunity to know about the life of tribal community who are poorer than my imagination”

Goverdham Singh

“I felt so proud to be a part of this team. I shared this good news with my family and relatives. I was little bit hesitated too because of different culture and language.

Jatan sansthan gave recognition to my work and experience of 7 years work in health sector. I have seen first time the airport in my life and sit in the plane. The airport was huge and I was wondering how people manage all this system. I sat near the window in plane. I saw beautiful view from the window. I like the bathroom of plane too. When the plane was landing, I felt little scared and were imagining if the plane could not stop then what will happen.

I enjoyed talking with Yashi, (the worker of FGAE) in English very much. I was so happy to know about the healthy relationship between India and Ethiopia.

The other important thing what impressed me a lot is Coffee Ceremony. I was so impressed with the way they welcome and serve coffee to the guests.

I have noticed few major issues there, which should be address by the Government or NGOs. That could be poor condition of rural people, over work burden on women, unemployment problem of youth and sanitation.

I am so impressed with Youth group program run by FGAE, So live and full of energy. I would like to make my YRCs like them.

I would also like to give many thanks to FGAE team for their welcome and loving behavior.”


“When I got the opportunity of applying to Arkleton Trust for study exchange trip, I was not expecting for select myself. Surprisingly we have got this. I knew Nicole for last few years, when she came to Udaipur for organized IRN conference. I was sure that there must be lot of opportunities we would be getting.

I learnt many new things from this trip. This was the first time when I was going to foreign country with 5 people. I enjoyed my journey. It is difficult to express the feeling of enjoying seeing the glow and happiness on the faces of my team members who were traveling first time in Plane. They were so happy.

In this trip I have got opportunity to talk with Nicole and Traver in 

English language for a long times. I really liked that a lot.

I am very impressed from the hospitality and work what FGAE doing in Ethopia. They work so hard in the largest geographical area.

Youth group program impressed me a lot. I like all youth centers.

I have suggested FGAE team members for keeping this trend of exchange study be continuing.

I learnt very important lesson of living happy with minimum or less facilities from the rural people of Ethiopia.

I can say this trip increased my confident a lot and I would like to go this type of trip again and again.

Thanks to Trust.”


“I was surprised when I got the news that I had been selected for this trip. I was not expecting for my selection since there were more senior workers were there. I was so happy when Kailash Sir called up me and asked for Passport. I think my experience of 15 years on women issues helped for my selection.

This was my second chance for sitting in plane. I enjoyed long travel with watching movies and chatting with my team members in plane.

I  like  FGAE  team’s  work,  specially  the  work  with  youth.  I  felt  so  sad when I heard about the sexual abused on women by their family members. The life of women is very difficult everywhere. NGO and Government should start empowered programs for women. I have learnt many things from this trip, like 

  • How to do preparations for foreign trip?
  • How to make adjustment with different food and culture?

  • How to be punctual of time and how to eat food with fork and knife? 
(This thing I learnt from Lakshmi Madam)

At the end, I would like to give my deep thanks to Sir, Lakshmi madam and Nikole madam who make my dream true.”


“I am a founder member of Jatan Sansthan and their advisor for reproductive health,  since its inception in 2001. I have always believed that international exposure gives to individuals new spaces to learn from. It builds confidence; it builds sensitivity toward another culture. It helps to observe other projects closely, it helps to relook at ones own work through different lenses.

The announcement on the Trust website for an exchange grant was to me an excellent opportunity for Jatan team members. Many in our team are from lower social groups and have had very few opportunities. Grassroots workers are often left out from forums and conferences because they lack English communication skills. The announcement from Arkleton, a grant centred around Africa seemed ideal for our workers. Personally I was interested in a larger group travelling, giving more people a chance to learn. Jatan Sansthan had at one time, hosted an Ethiopian intern Mahalet Woldetsadik and through her we were able to identify an African NGO who agreed to partner with us on this exchange event and contribute / match some expenses.  The partner NGO was Family Guidance Association of  Ethiopia, FGAE. We mutually agreed to host 6 persons, the programme spread over six days would include field visits, meetings with community members, formal exchange sessions and seminars.  The location of the exchange visit was identified by the respective participating NGO and many other processes were put in place. With all this in the background I helped Jatan to apply for the travel exchange grant. A proposal was developed and subsequently approved, that included 12 persons.

The FGAE team visited Jatan from January 18th – Jan 22nd, 2014. They were in the field most of time with our workers at the different centres. The Jatan office team hugely benefitted from their visit. While there was a language barrier, everyone seemed to communicate!

When it came to selection, at Jatan, we made sure to include workers who have had relatively lower opportunities due to social circumstances. For example we had on our team two women grassroot workers who were married off at 14 years, who had studied only until grade 8 and 12.  One male participant was from a lower caste (social) group, from the “mochi” community who are traditionally discriminated as “untouchables” by higher social groups.  Additionally four of the team members spoke no English. 

The dates of Jatan Sansthan visit to see the work of FGAE, Hawassa, South Ethiopia was from February  15th to 24th 2014. I accompanied the Jatan team. Jatan will be filing in their own report separately.

For myself, I came back with rich experiences. What struck me from the start was the warmth and hospitality of locals wherever we went. The clinics, the outreach centre, the people at FGAE were very welcoming.  There was much to learn from youth! The energy, the dancing the desire to learn was very evident. Youth Centres had well maintained libraries, some had computers with internet connections. I was extremely happy to see for myself openness amongst youth toward contraception and other reproductive health issues. FGAE had not left out young sex workers, they too are included in the health programme and other initiatives.

Hawassa and surrounding areas was still relatively clean and free from plastic debris and waste that one commonly finds even in small town India.  Quite obviously, as more consumer products make its way into South Ethiopia, debris will exponentially increase.  I also understood many aspects to menstrual health and hygiene which is my core area of work. The taboos, the systems seem no different from India. Misconceptions are common, menstruation management methods are still very basic among poorer communities. Disposable sanitary napkins were available in the areas we went, however we did not see used pads thrown by the road side as is common in India. The reasons for these became clear as we later learned that disposable pads are thrown away in pit latrines and are hence out of site. 

As I returned and reflected on many issues, I was particularly happy with the selection of the team members that both Kailash and I had made. Almost everything on this trip was new and different for them. Travelling by air, the different food, the different cereals and grains, seeing a country with lower resources from their own, everything for them was an eye opener. What particularly struck them was the open and healthy interaction between boys and girls, something that is not encouraged by the average Indian community.

From the over exchange, I would recommend the method we used for many reasons

  • More persons benefit when participating NGOs contribute to the exchange
  • The interaction and collaboration does not end with this one exchange. Official and personal bonds have been forged.
  • Both NGOs have tentatively agreed to support an intern programme for three months. The design of the intern programme is currently at the draft stage.

The exchange grant has been an excellent idea and for this I thank all the trustees and office bearers of the Arkleton Trust.” 


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