Azad Foundation is celebrating its 10th year of empowering women as professional chauffeurs. The organization which started its initiative in Delhi in 2008 with a small team has now grown into Jaipur and Kolkata. The ‘Women on Wheels’programme also has its presence in cities of Indore, Ahmedabad and Bangalore through partnerships.Today Azad and Sakha are a team of around 100 strong members across locations.
The organization has trained more than 1500 women so far out of which more than 650 have been successfully employed and earning a livelihood with dignity as professional chauffeurs.
To commemorate this milestone, Azad Foundation along with its Sister company, Sakha Consulting Wings, organized a retreat for all its members in Kullu-Manali at the Himalayan Vagabond Adventures from 3rd-8th May 2018. This was the first time, Azad and Sakha employees were brought together at one platform and had the chance to meet and interact with the members of the boards and learn about their association. Staying in tents and camps bought people together like a family and further strengthen the bond.
It was a packed 4 days of fun-filled activities and sessions with a lot of learning and reflection Teams were formed with assigned responsibilities and also to participate in the games to keep the sportsmanship spirit going to compete for the “Champions” title.
A dynamic session “reconstructing our history” was a significant gathering, where in groups were formed based on their year of association with Azad and Sakha. People recollected memories and learning and funny moments …. making it a beautiful and inspiring hearing aboutthe journey of the organizations and the people who have grown to bepart of it/them.
Meenu, the Executive Director for Azad Foundation, fondly recalls, ‘the first office was rented in 2008 and most of the furniture was donated by friends and family. Shanno, one of our first trainee brought a stove.’
Board Member, Rajiv Khandelwal also facilitated an interactive session on Value Based Institution, discussing values that an institution must have. There was also a discussion around how some institutions have eroded overtime and the reasons behind the same. Alka,another board member, highlightedthe cultures that develop in organizations that sustain the values and how people play a key role in sustaining these values.
Devi from Sakha, capped it with her 1 liner,‘It is Azad and Sakha that have helped me find my true identity.’
It is often said that no journey is long when the dreams are big and sky is the limit. Aptly the next session was where all people were asked to chalk down their vision for the organization for the next five years. It was so over whelming to see how people dream of growing with the organization and taking it to heights. This also highlights how people take ownership for not just their work but also the organization and its vision.
Dreams and aspirations can be infinite, they do not have boundaries. An employee from Sakha also shared her dream for the organization mentioning, ‘ Sakha should have its offices pan india and there should be an app for the accessing Sakha services.’
It was not just serious discussions but adventure game /activities were very much part of the retreat. Everyone enjoyed the thrilling experience of rafting, the nerve testing Burma bridge. There was wholesome participation by all, be it the singing or dancing sessions with the local folk dance group or our very own in-house star performance of the evening where the entire staff performence ‘Hum tohuddgye’. Indeed, people were flying high with dreams and aspirations for Azad and Sakha!
The closing ceremony witnessed people sharing their experiences and thanking each other along with special thanks to the organizers at Himalayan Vagabond.