Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Standard Chartered Volunteering in Mumbai

Editor's Note: This is our first post from Abbie, one of our summer interns. Abbie is working with the Goal team in Mumbai and will be blogging over the next few weeks with up-to-date news from the ground!

We’re still battling through torrential downpours in Mumbai, but that isn’t stopping Goal, or volunteers from Standard Chartered... Last Saturday saw the offices of Standard Chartered Bank in Mumbai become a hubbub of activity, as 25 volunteers from the Finance Department delivered an induction day on practical finance for both staff, and later girls from the Goal programme.

In the morning the volunteers gave a series of presentations on financial planning, banking products (such as accounts, cheques and paying in slips), loans, life insurance, cards and even a tour of the Mumbai branch. For many of the staff of Goal affiliates Naz Foundation and Hamara Foundation, understanding these banking basics will be invaluable on both a personal and business level. Neyna, who has recently begun working for Goal as a netball coach, after several years as a Goal Champion, has just opened her first bank account to accommodate her first formal salary, and was keen to learn how to use an ATM machine and to understand what she could use different accounts for. For the SCB volunteers, the discussions were often challenging, not least because they had to talk in Hindi, when they're used to talking about these things in English. The Goal staff expressed an interest in further sessions, spurred on by their new knowledge to want to learn even more about financial practices, which can help them run their Foundations more effectively.

After lunch the volunteers dodged the raindrops and crammed themselves (literally!) into cars to head over to the Hamara Foundation site where the Year I and II Goal participants were waiting. Here they gave each girl a laminated 1000 rupee note and split into groups to discuss what the girls would do with the money. Responses ranged from buying clothes and jewellery, to books and medicine, to saving for parents. After twenty minutes of fantasizing, the volunteers helped the girls to categorise these purchases under the headings of ‘need’, ‘want’ and ‘emergency’. Soon the girls were confidently justifying why an iPod was a want, but clothes could be a want and a need. This introduction to the idea of prioritising spending familiarised the girls with the importance of budgeting, a concept which could be transferred into their everyday lives. Each group presented feedback from the activity to all of the volunteers and participants, a somewhat dauntingly large group! However, with the encouraging and affirmative atmosphere that had been established, none of the girls seem overwhelmed, and some even managed to make their presentations humorous!

This session is just first in a series of classes which the Financial Department will deliver as part of Goal’s curriculum, with the financial syllabus proper commencing in September. Thanks to this early session, the girls are already comfortable in the presence of the volunteers and familiar with some of the concepts that they will go on to discuss. It is a real testament to the team work, efforts and enthusiasm of the Finance team, lead by Sanjay Mehta, that Saturday was so successful and enjoyable for all involved, and the volunteers left at the end of the day with a large ‘thank you’ card and a great sense of accomplishment.

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