MEET OUR TEAM
Jayantibhai Bajaniya, a compassionate, caring and sensitive human being. He is a aware and hardworking too. It was this concern for his community that resulted into his association with VSSM in 2006 to help spread awareness within the community while he worked as a fitter at a local factory that earned him monthly remuneration of Rs. 3000/- .
Mohanbhai Bajaniya, a selfless and humble human being who strives for the upliftment of his community, joined VSSM as a volunteer in its initial years. Those were the days VSSM had no funds to even afford travel expenses of such volunteers.
The work that VSSM had embarked upon appealed Shardaben Bhati so much that she left her job and joined us in 2006 as one of the initial team members of VSSM.
At VSSM we consider Tohid an advocate for the rights of Dafer, so deep is his connection with the Dafer community. Tohid joined VSSM in 2006 as a Baldost to teach the children at one of its Bridge Schools. The challenges the community where he taught faced had left him shaken and distraught. He began raising his voice against the police atrocities the Dafer community faces. He is an extremely aggressive person who refuses to tolerate injustice. Tohid continues to remain VSSM’s strength from its early years.
We aren’t sure when did the distance blur for Mahesbhai Raval from being a Bal Dost teaching the children of nomadic communities at a Bridge School to now being a senior team member fighting for the rights of nomadic and de-notified communities. “I will always be part of the VSSM team,” Mahesbhai always reaffirms his commitment to the cause.
Paresh Raval joined VSSM in 2009 as a Bal Dost at one of our Bridge Schools. It took him some time to grow as a community worker but since he is the youngest of our team members he had age by his side. Gradually, he worked his way up to become an experienced team member of VSSM acquiring enough skills to navigate through the daily challenges of work at the grassroots.
It was the role of a Bal Dost that brought assertive yet mellow Naran Raval to VSSM in 2011. Along with teaching children it was this deep desire to be able to make a difference in the lives of fellow nomadic communities that kept Naran going. It was his patience and perseverance that has helped him carve a special place in VSSM. Today, we consider him an authority when it comes to working with government officials. He knows the various government schemes at the back of his hand, making him quick and efficient when it comes to helping others.
Kanubhai joined VSSM in 2011, during the Ramkatha given by Respected Shri Morari Bapu. Having spent his life in poverty, Kanubhai had no expectations from his association with VSSM. His only goal was work for his communities. “What will you give the organisation in exchange of all that it does for you?” is how he questions his community fellows and takes a pledge of de-addiction from all he works with. Personally, he remains committed to work with only those families who give up their addictions.
Extremely caring and compassionate Chayabahen has been part of VSSM since 2013. Like an elderly in the family she never refrains from advising on how to make life more beautiful to each individual she works with. She monitors each individual she has worked for and remains committed to ensure that the families she works with enjoy a better today.
“I want to work for the women of my community, can I join VSSM?” Madhubahen had asked when she first reached VSSM’s office. Prior to joining VSSM, she worked all by herself, to address the issues the women of her community faced. Even the expenses incurred in this process were personally borne by her. A lady who fighter spirit but extremely soft at heart, is how we love to describe Madhubahen.
Amibahen joined VSSM as office coordinator and plays a pivotal role of a bridge between the VSSM’s head office and field offices. Extremely compassionate and caring Amibahen prioritises well-being of other’s before anything else.
“I am not interested to work with you if you aren’t interested in sending your children to school!” she does not hold back when the community members need to be threatened like so. Our Ilabahen joined us in 2010. She is ready to reach out whenever anyone needs her help, be it in middle of night, she rushes anywhere she is needed, but prefers to work for the destitute and lonely.
“I am with VSSM because I like it, I like the work we do. Initially, I took up this role in VSSM as a job, but now the role is my lifeline…” defines Ramesh Makwana of the reason he is with VSSM inspite of being offered more rewarding opportunities elsewhere. Truth, honesty and dedication run through his veins.
“I will be part of VSSM until my last breath…” one can hear our Harshad Vyas utter these word often. Sensitive, compassionate, hardworking Harshad belongs to the nomadic community of Bhaviaya. He joined VSSM whilst he was just 20 years old as a Baldost for activities conducted for children’s education. He is now in charge of VSSM’s activities in Surendranagar. It is also the support of his parents and wife that has enabled Harshad to remain committed to the cause.
The daily grind and the frequent setbacks the team of VSSM encounters does take a toll on the team’s morale. It is during those moments that the humour and wit our Ishwar Rawal Rawal helps lighten the situation and crack everyone present in good laugh. He has that rare ability to spread laughter. We can all him Rangla of team VSSM. Ishwar Rawal hails from Nomadic community. His economic condition is extremely poor yet the dignified and self-respecting human that he is, we have never seen him sad or asking for help. He continuous to work tirelessly through the day, standing along with Naran and addressing the issues of the nomadic communities.
Dimpleben fell in love with the cause of nomadic and de-notified communities after attending and being part of the various programs organised by VSSM. Initially, she volunteered with the activities of VSSM, to help lighten our work load, gradullay her attachment with the community especially children grew. Currently, Dimpleben coordinates the Education initiative of VSSM. She also manages the activities at our main office, briefing the visitors on VSSM’s work and efficiently replying to all their questions. Dimpleben’s presence in the team has eased a lot of us in Ahmedabad office.
Linesh Gurjar is our Chief Accountant. “I have never stayed in any organisation for more then two years. But there is something about VSSM’s work that hold me here!!” Linesh often jokes about his 7 year long association with VSSM. A very honest and well-intended individual, Linesh performs his role with great integrity and loyalty. He believes that this is his way of contributing towards the betterment of the nomadic communities. He too can been seen works 24×7.
Meera came to VSSM as a volunteer in 2013 just after her marriage. A perfectionist by nature, Meera whom we all call Swati did not even know what organisations are!! For someone who was never exposed to the rural challenges, Swati quickly absorbed the values and ethos of the organisation. Any information regarding VSSM, be it donors or the settlements we are working in Swati knows them at the back of her hand. Swati also manages the various social media platforms of VSSM. Assign her a task and she has to finish it perfectly that is the level of precision Meera expects even from herself.
VSSM and Sheetalben, who is based in Singapore share a long distance working relationship. I remember on our very first meeting requesting Sheetalben to take care VSSM’s English documentation. VSSM’s growing outreach in terms of well-wishers and geography required communication in English. It needed someone who could pour compassion in the writing, we weren’t looking at mere reports writing as they are in news daily. It was 2012 that Sheetalben joined VSSM and took care of its English documentation. With her 25 years of experience at the grassroots and having worked with various marginalised communities of Gujarat, Sheetalben ensures that the stories of these communities are shared with the sensitivity that upholds their dignity.