Not Free, Not Social Work Then

Machine Milegi?”
“ Nahi. Yahan apko bas sikhaya jayega.”
“ Muft main?”
“ Nahi. Har mahine 500 rupaye bharne padenge.”
“To kya fayada! Government ka hai?”
“Nahi. Hamari ek samajik sanstha hai jo padhai adhure chode huye logo ke liye kam karti hain.”
“Loan doge?”
“To kya fayada!!!”

I got used to this type of conversations on the field. We have tried to provide vocational training for free but the outcome was not satisfactory. It is like when you are given a concert ticket for free and on the concert night you fell ill. The possibilities of you attending the concert are less than when you purchase the ticket on your own. As people don’t value free things, they don’t value free education. Often it feels charging fees like running tuition classes. Then what is the difference between us and vocational training institute. The fees charged is used to make the program sustainable not for us but for the community. Instead of providing it for free, we are providing it at a subsidized amount. A person totally neglects long term profits of it. Vocational training enables you to have some skill of your own and immediate livelihood at your door step.

When we are surveying the community often people came with questions like what you are going to build or distribute or give us for free. I don’t know what this urge to get things for free is. I do understand that people are provided with financial or medical aid as per their problems time to time. I am not saying we should not provide it. Somewhere these aids are disabling us from solving our own problems. Why a social organization cannot charge you for their services. Why? if it is not free it is not social work.


One thought on “Not Free, Not Social Work Then

  1. There are other ways to make people value stuff besides them paying for it in the form of money. For instance, my placement organisation during the fellowship – Goonj – makes people work for the stuff we give them. Or you could attach conditions to it (which is how govt. conditional cash transfer schemes work). And so on. Paying for stuff monetarily is only one way to create buy-in – and not necessarily the best one.


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