Vacha Charitable Trust

Our mission is to focus on issues of women and girls through educational programmes, resource creation, research, training, campaigns, networking and advocacy. Our vision is of a world without exploitation, oppression, discrimination and injustice against women or any other section of society
Mar 14, 2014

This project wins an award

Vacha receives Dasra Award, pic. courtesy Dasra
Vacha receives Dasra Award, pic. courtesy Dasra

Dear Friends,

You will be happy to learn that Vacha has won the Dasra Girl Power Award in the life skills category for 2014 and a prize of Rs. 10 lakh (INR 1 million, USD a bit over 16,000.00). There was an all India competition for the award. Vacha was first short listed and then selected as the finalist for it. The award is for the same work that you are supporting through Global Giving so each one of you, our esteemed donors,  have contributed towards  our refining and expanding the programme and finally winning an important award for it in India. Out team sincerely thanks you or it.

Republic Day 2014:

As you know Vacha youth bring out their own newsletters twice a year. They collect information, take pictures, conduct interviews and form committees to type and edit the newsletters. In some areas this year they brought out 11th edition of their own newsletter that they themselves produce and sell. The newsletter was released on January 26, the Republic Day. Different communities had different versions and these were released along with public performances by girls such as street play performances, power point presentations, speeches and rallies with messages about girls’ rights.  Local elected representatives, teachers, social workers, and their parents and peers attended these public events.

The Women’s Day

A major event that was helped organise by girls at all centres was a Women’s Day event on March 8th. Women across 15 bastis in Mumbai, Thane and Valsad (South Gujarat) were invited to spend a few hours away from their house work, and celebrate themselves through games, songs, and other fun activities. Girls had planned competitions and other activities for their mothers to enjoy on Women’s Day, and had a blast seeing their usually reticent mothers fight with each other to win the prize! Women shared with each other about their hobbies and dreams, and found the space to express themselves.

Exams and Vacation

Every year we used to note a declining number of participants in Vacha classes for 2 months from mid February. They said they had to study for the final exams in early April. This year, wherever possible, we turned Vacha centres in to study spaces. Girls like this as they get some quiet and comfortable space in which to study. Their homes are small and crowded. They also have to perform many domestic chores if they are around. In Vacha centres they have books, dictionaries and a facilitator who can help them with their studies.

The final exams will be followed by a long summer vacation. A number of workshops and other activities are planned for all those who will not be going off to their native villages.

Remember Rehana?

‘How does one say on seeing one’s own tongue after a long long time?’ exclaimed Rehana when asked how did she feel after her major dental surgery? We had mentioned her problem last time. Rehana’s cheek had puffed up and she could not open her mouth fully. She meshed food in to small balls and pushed it in through a gap between her teeth in one place. As a child she had tried to run and hide from a strict family elder and fallen down. She had hurt her mouth and the dentures did not align. The treatment was very painful so she gave up after a while. Her cheek kept puffing up. She could not speak clearly but she was fascinated by Vacha class and kept coming. The Vacha ‘teacher’, the social worker Deepa Pawar, herself from a deprived community, pursued the matter with her and her family and arranged for an important surgery at low rate. She stood by Rehana every moment. The family raised some finance and Vacha contributed too. Your contributions helped. Today Rehana can open her mouth and look at her tongue for the first time in many years. She can take proper nutrition too. She has more confidence now and better self esteem. ‘I am going to be a professional photographer’, she says. And she will certainly emerge as one. Why not?

As we near the end of this phase of our project we sincerely hope you will remain with us always and support us in helping girls acquire skills that will make them active and visible in community leadership and help them emerge as strong productive women citizens.

Rehana - before surgery
Rehana - before surgery
Rehana - after surgery
Rehana - after surgery
Deepa Pawar, who helped Rehana
Deepa Pawar, who helped Rehana
Girls shouting slogans at rally organised by them
Girls shouting slogans at rally organised by them
Performing street theatre on rights of girls
Performing street theatre on rights of girls

Links:

Dec 20, 2013

Girls Celebrate

At a gender and health fair
At a gender and health fair

Friends,

First of all, please accept our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. A greeting card is attached showing girls at the end of a craft workshop. Thank you for making them so happy and for contributing to their training in life skills and leadership.

Christmas comes within 6 to 8 weeks of Diwali so Holiday atmosphere picks up again. There are many Christmas parties and church events in Mumbai. End of the year is a big event since the January first is the beginning of the common era that we all follow. There are many lunar calenders for other holidays.  During Diwali holidays, besides the health camps, two fairs were held in two communities. The focus was on health and gender with a lot of fun activities. One of the workshops was on simple data collection and small surveys inside their own bastis (slums).  They are quite excited about finalizing their questionnaires to collect information. One group will do it on harassment of women and girls in streets and the other on the functioning of ration shops that sell basic essentials like food grains, fuel etc. to the poor at rates subsidized by the govt.  These girls are in 14 plus age group.

The good news to share is about Rehana, 18, who had a major problem in eating. Due to a fall some years back her upper and lower jaws totally lost their alignment and her one cheek had lost its shape. After a while the family gave up treatment in a public hospital, possibly due to ill treatment by staff, long distance or plain ignorance. Rehana was also scared of surgery. Some from our team convinced her for its need. One arranged for lower medical costs in a semi private hospital. We have encouraged the family to raise some funds and we will pay the rest from what you have donated to us. We are told the surgery was successful and Rehana will be able eat through mouth after some years. She had been taking only liquids through a straw all these years. She is about to leave hospital and we will be able to share pictures with you next time.

Engaged in Group Work During a Workshop
Engaged in Group Work During a Workshop

Attachments:
Dec 2, 2013

Vacation time at Vacha

Eye Checkup
Eye Checkup

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings from Vacha, Mumbai .

November started with Diwali festival. There was a 3 week vacation in schools. So it was a fun filled time for girls and scope for workshops and other activities. Fairs, sports and such events were organized.  An eye camp was held in one centre for checkups and follow ups.  Some girls were found with problems for clear sight. Four were provided with glasses and 17 were given eye drops. Two health later camps were for checking level of hemoglobin and general health. The results are being checked but BMI suggests problems already. Meetings with mothers were held but price of food grains and vegetables have shot up so much ( 278 per cent in one year  according to Times of India dated November 15, 2013. This after the already inflationary prices in last 3 years.) that mere counseling will not help much. We are also negotiating for girls to have equal share in food and counseling girls to eat adequate vegetables etc. and not to observe religious fasting where they can.

 Health camps were held in three places. In one centre, mothers also came for checkups.  In all 242 girls were covered in an eye and general health camps. There were checkups for sight. Additionally, Hemoglobin count was taken and, BMI measured. Spectacles and eye drops were provided to to17 girls.  As follow up action, awareness meetings were organized with mothers and implications of low level of hemoglobin and food intakes were discussed with them. In the meantime, nutritious items are provided for one girl with health problems. The happy news to share with you this year has been that one of the participants, who was sent for early checkups because one of our team members had early surgery and is a cancer survivor now. The great thing as that she passed her final year school exams of class X with 92 per cent, a level coveted by the rich kids who are lucky to have good private tutors as well. She has entered the Science stream now and we hope to support her financially now for further studies.

A Special Day:

Your contributions have helped make our programme vibrant and exciting for girls as you must have seen in the reports. Today many girls have acquired important life skills and have started participating in community events. They are planning their future with more clarity and confidence and have learnt to take initiative and to negotiate where necessary. The process is continuous. 

We have a great chance to strengthen our position and work more intensively with vulnerable girls from poverty affected families through raising funds on Tuesday, December 3. Microsoft is giving a dollar for dollar matching grant (up to USD 1000.00 per donation) to certain chosen organizations who receive donations within 24 hours from Tuesday  12 -01 noon EST to 12 noon the next day. Please donate generously to us on Global Giving online through credit card or PayPal only and encourage your friends and others too. Your donation will double this way in volume and we will get the double benefit.

Please donate as early as possible on Dec. 3 one second after 12 noon Eastern Time in USA so that we get this double gift before the amount of USD 250,000.00 matching grant from Microsoft is exhausted.

Thanks and regards,

Sonal Shukla, Nischint Hora, Medhavinee Namjoshi

For blood chekup
For blood chekup
For BMI checkup
For BMI checkup
At a gender and health fair
At a gender and health fair
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