Guest post: Zandra Karlsson

A blog by Zandra Karlsson, Intern at FAT, on 8th April 2010. This post has been copied from our old blog to the new site.

This is Zandra writing. You probably don't know me as I have not previously posted anything on this blog. So, let me introduce myself. I'm a Finnish marketing student doing my internship here at FAT. I work mostly with grant-writing, but also with other fund-raising tasks and I help out with the marketing in general for FAT. I'm writing here now to tell you about one of the most incredible experiences I have had here in India. And believe me, I have experience a lot of new things during my more than five months here.

On the 28th of January this year we went to the slums of Lajpat Nagar in New Delhi to meet with and interview some of the girls interested in joining the Tech Centre FAT is setting up. As you have probably already come to know, FAT is currently working hard to start a eduction centre for underprivileged girls. At the moment we are looking for funding for the centre. To raise funds, we wanted to reach both international and national private donors with our message and the messages of the basti girls. This is why we decided to do an online campaign for the center, and for this, we needed at promotion video.

We decided to interview the girls for the video. What would be better than to let the girls themselves speak to the donors? This way the audience would get a true feel of the lives of the girls now and how the centre could improve it.

Coming from a country where something like slums do not exist, I was both nervous and exited to see the place the girls live and meet with them and their families. I was also exited about experiencing how a promotion video like this is filmed and produced.

When we first got there we walked around to find a good place to film at. We also met with the girls who we wanted to interview. They seemed a bit shy, but very happy to meet with us.

The streets in the basti were narrow and lined with small brick houses cramped close together. Although the people were obviously poor with very little means to survive on, the streets and the houses were still kept clean and orderly. The houses were painted in bright colors, which gave more positive feel to the community. The people living in the basti were so welcoming and willing to help and show us around. They were very friendly and talkative. I was amazed at how they were able to enjoy positive things in life although their lot is not an easy one.

As we walked to the street where we had decided to make the interviews, so many people from the community gathered around us. Everybody was friendly and smiling. As exited as I was about visiting the basti, it seemed like it was equally exiting for them to have us there. The kids were playing around us and more and more people were coming to see what was going on.

The was a lot of setting up to do; to arrange the place where the interviews could be filmed, to arrange microphones, and to get the camera in the right position. Once the girls started speaking, however, I could really feel that this was going to be a great video. When they talked about the centre and the workshop that Gayatri had previously held for them, their eyes lit up and their voices got all exited. Although I could hardly understand one word that they were saying, I still understood how much hope for a better future a centre like this could give them. I came to realise that it is this hope and their own confidence that will have the biggest role in changing their lives. Practical skills will provide them with the opportunity, but it is their own belief in themselves that will make things happen. This is why it is so important that the centre is not only focused on the technical skills, but  also on promoting leadership skills and confidence among the girls, and on giving support in tackling social issues.

I'm soon on my way back to Finland, but if there is one thing that will alway stay with me, it will be the experiences I have had and the people I have met while working for FAT. I will always remember the girls from the basti and hope for the best for their future. I truly believe that with a little bit of support, the centre will be a great success story and that it will make a true change in the lives of the girls. I feel so pleased in being able to contribute at least this much of my time to such a worthy cause.