Making a difference in the lives of street vendors – My internship at an NGO

Making-a-difference-in-the-lives-of-street-vendors-My-internship-at-an-NGO

About the Author: Afeefa Rafath is a student of Christ University, Bangalore. She shares snippets of her internship at an NGO and how enriching her journey turned out to be. 

It was time for the much-awaited summer vacations and I was keen on doing an internship. The numerous search results on Google made my head spin but soon enough, I stumbled upon Internshala and came across a market research and survey internship at Enactus CHRIST, an NGO run by the Christ University, which worked towards improving the quality of life of different communities by developing their entrepreneurial skills. I went through their website to understand their mission and vision and to get an idea of what they were looking for in a candidate. The selection procedure was quite simple; I just had to answer two questions viz. ‘Why should you be hired for this internship?’ and ‘Are you available for a 1-week virtual internship?’. I answered the first question by emphasizing my research and writing skills along with my determination to learn new skills. I also mentioned that I appreciated the efforts made by their team for the betterment of the society and that I would love to contribute to it. The answer to the second question was an obvious yes.

Soon they informed me about my selection. We were a team of 30 virtual interns headed by Mr. Chirag Pugalia, the project head. We were a part of their ‘streetopreneur’ project wherein they aimed at the upliftment of the street vendors by providing them the required support through entrepreneurial means. My role was to conduct a survey of 20 street vendors in a week and collect information about their business. We were to conduct at least 2 surveys every day and have a conference call in the evening to share our experiences, which resulted in mutual learning. 

I planned on conducting the surveys in the morning as I was highly likely to chance upon a street vendor at that time. I politely asked them if they minded answering a few questions for me and explained how it would benefit them. My first survey respondent was an old lady selling vegetables in a hand-pulled cart. I walked along with her as she went about her daily business and narrated her story. The surveys were conducted using a Google Form wherein I stored their contact number, birthplace, and languages known. I asked them about the economic aspects of their business like their monthly income, cost of procurement, profit margin, number of working hours, type of business, etc. Few questions were qualitative and captured the psycho-social aspect of the respondents’ lives such as the problems they faced, how they would develop their business if provided support, etc. Once all the surveys were done, the NGO contacted the vendors and helped them develop their business.

During the internship, I learnt the importance of persistence and time-management. Some respondents gave fairly detailed answers while some were rude and uninterested. Nevertheless, with each survey that I did, I got a glimpse of the lives of different people, their struggles, and the zeal with which they overcame them. The internship gave me a truly unique and beautiful experience and instilled in me a deep sense of humility.

Do you also wish to give back to the society? Apply to these NGO internships and get an opportunity to make a difference. 

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