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
Jun 3, 2015

Girls Take on the Mighty Municipal Corporation

Street play during Rally
Street play during Rally

Hello friends,

It is very hot and humid in Mumbai right now. Onset of monsoon is expected by mid June. A lot of open air activities must take place before that.  One of them was a much needed rally to demand more , cleaner and safe toilets for women and girls. Vacha is very active in the nearly 5 year old Right to Pee campaign for such toilets. Men are known to relieve themselves in the open and behind waste heaps of parked trucks. Apart from the inconvenience, these sites can also make women and girls vulnerable to sexual attacks.

In a series of discussions with girls in Malvani, the second largest slum in India after Dharavi, the toilet and garbage disposal issues were taken up for campaigning against. Six groups from various bastis (‘slums’) got involved as this is a common problem in all poor neighbourhoods.  Boys were encouraged to participate also.  On May 23 about 150 , mostly girls,  got together in Malvani. Girls divided themselves in 3 groups to work on Signature Collecting , Slogans Shouting and Street Theatre Performance.  Girls had already informed local police about the event and written to the Solid Waste Disposal and other relevant Municipal departments. The local response was amazing. This is a problem  faced by all, men too. Hygiene is everybody’s issue. Very few in a slum have indoor toilets.   What was surprising was the media response. Times of India carried a report in its tabloid Mumbai Mirror, Radio Mirchi  interviewed  Deepa Pawar of Vacha in Hndi for a popular programme, Maharshtra Times, a major Marathi daily reported the campaign and TV 9 covered it for its channel. Links for the reports in English are given here. Please do have a look.

The immediate impact of the campaign is big and the residents  are now optimistic about getting decent toilets. The local authorities have woken up and the toilets are suddenly cleaner, being washed daily instead of once in a way. The campaign is still on. The matter is being taken up for impacting the development plan for Mumbai and with ward authorities.  A women’s group is formed to support girls  for monitoring state of toilets. The girls had originally started with rehearsing for a play, making banners, writing to elected representatives  feel encouraged by thousands of signatures collected and by the tremendous support they have go locally. Girls feel empowered by such encouragement and by acceptance of their  leadership role  in the community.

Girls collect Signatures during Rally
Girls collect Signatures during Rally
Posters prepared for the rally
Posters prepared for the rally

Links:

Jun 3, 2015

Sabina's Story

Sabina
Sabina

Hello friends,

It is June and it is very  hot in Mumbai but hotter elsewhere in India. Summer vacation in schools starts here from mid-April immediately after annual exams. Last fortnight of April is the best time to catch the youngsters before they are taken to their native villages by parents in May. Vacha organized a whole lots of workshops in photography, street theatre, art and craft,  English speaking and so on across bastis (‘slums’) and govt. schools.  The outputs will be displayed on the Independence Day in August.

Sabina’s Story: Sabina has initiative and leadership qualities. Though dropped out from school, she enrolled herself again when her family situation was better. She  went thru a depressed phase recently but has bounced back now.

Here is what happened:

Water is in shortage and her neighborhood gets it only for an hour or so at a given time. There are fights over whose turn it is to fill water from the public tap and about being pushed in a queue. A woman in her neighborhood pushed Sabina  and beat her up hurting Sabina  her on her thigh. There was a cut and it was bleeding. She did not come for Vacha sessions a few times. Our social worker visited her. She said she was not feeling well and was depressed. She had wanted to lodge a police complaint but her parents were dead against it. They did not want her to make an issue of it. After all fighting over water access was a routine thing! Vacha trainer is a kind of mentor to the adolescent girls. She encouraged Sabina to discuss the matter further with her parents and not give up. Sabina could actually convince them to let her lodge a ’non cognizable complaint –NC’ so that “at least now there is a police record and that woman dare not be violent to me! She will be in police custody at least for a day”,  she says.  Individual and collective successes of girls are steps towards their empowerment. Do have a look at media reports of a campaign for safe and clean public toilets by girls who have no indoor facility.

Links:

Mar 17, 2015

Happy Events at Vacha

A Landmark Year
A Landmark Year

Hello friends,

We want to share some happy news. Vacha Trust completes 25 years of its formal existence as a charity on March 19th. It has been a fulfilling journey of working on issues of women and girls. We had actually started working from 1987 but had not registered as a trust until 1990. We had some stressed periods due to shortage of resources but, with good will of supporters like you and others, we survived and flourished. We wish you could all be with us to celebrate this mile stone. Encouraged by it we now rededicate ourselves to conducting programs in life skills for girls and train hundreds of girls a year. We are approaching many agencies and individuals for support. We hope you will also visit the project no. 16755 at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/life-skills-training-annually-for-poor-girls-in-mumai/ and continue to support our project of life skills training for girls from impoverished families living in slums. We sincerely hope you will also visit our website from time to time.

The last quarter in the project had two major events. One was the release of newsletters in all the 17 poor neighbourhoods, where Vacha is active, on the Indian Republic Day. In six communities it was their 12th newsletter. In a new community, girls start with making posters and leaflets and then gradually acquire skills and confidence to create own newsletters. The other event was celebration of Women’s Day in the same areas where the girls chose to treat it like Mothers’ Day and bonded with mothers to discuss new social realities that they all live in and their impact on girls’ lives. The topics vary such as girls’ aspirations for further education, for fashion and dress code, mothers’ situation about domestic chores and so on.

Vacha’s active participation in the core group of NGOs working on Right To Pee, a campaign for safe a clean public toilets for women continues. On Women’s Day the govt. awarded it for being a strong women led citizens’ campaign. To the campaigns demand for toilets for women in public spaces, Vacha has added a demand for repairs and maintenance of toilets in slum areas, where people do not have the facility at home and the state of public toilets are dirty and very inconvenient for women and girls.

 Currently we have only planned a get together of Vacha team and volunteers on March 19 when we actually complete 25 years but hope to have more events through the year if resources permit. We reaffirm our appreciation of your support and good will and welcome your good wishes for the occasion.

Making a public Presentation
Making a public Presentation
Rally to demand free and clean public toilets
Rally to demand free and clean public toilets
Girls with their Newsletters on Republic Day
Girls with their Newsletters on Republic Day
Celebrating Women
Celebrating Women's Day with mothers

Links:

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