Renuka, pictured here, is an eighteen-year-old girl who has benefitted from the activities and programmes offered by the project. Her family includes herself, her parents, three siblings and one sister-in-law. Her parents work as labourers at construction sites, where they carry cement bags. Due to the severe drought in their village, they had to relocate to the city in search of a livelihood. Renuka was forced to discontinue her education to take care of her three siblings who are in the 11th, 9th and 7th standards respectively. However, Renuka was reluctant to return to school to study with children who are much younger than her.
The project team met Renuka when conducting a survey in her community. She was offered help to re-join school, however upon voicing her hesitation, she was instead offered the option of joining the tailoring course which she accepted. Renuka has been using these new tailoring skills to find paid work for the last seven months, stitching clothes for neighbours and earning respect of her family and community whilst doing so. She also learned to read and write with the other children in the organisation.
“I learnt a lot from other girls who were learning with me,” Renuka explains. “I learnt the way to talk and behave and this changed my personality. Now I dress up neatly and properly and I tend my hair properly too. In the past I was not very tidy about it. Staying back at my house, I could have never been able to speak so well. I feel that a lot of my aspirations have been fulfilled. I have a feeling that I can do something and today I am able to earn on my own. This helps me to live life happily.”
Today Renuka thinks that she will not have to endure the arduous work her mother had to. She says “thanks to the tailoring course, I will be able to earn by putting in less efforts than my mother. Now that I can read and write, I will not face problems travelling places. My family includes me in the decision-making process and when getting me married, they will surely take my views into consideration.” She is pictured here, demonstrating her newfound tailoring and designing skills, and is wearing a dress she made herself in the first photograph.
It is always a privilege to meet the beneficiaries of our project.
Amongst the cramped squalor of the slums, which now house over a third of the city's population, I see how the lives of young women have been transformed through the work you are supporting.
One such young women is 25 year old mother Rajya. She tells me how the course allowed her the opportunity to see a world beyond her house, and the part of the slum she lived in.
"Before I didn’t go outside, I just used to stay here. Our men don’t let us go out... they wouldn’t even send us to work, and so in Rajennagar?
This lady came to us, and said they we’re running sewing classes, so I said ‘ok, I’ll have a look, I’ll try'."
When Rajya went to see the class, she saw there were other women and girls from her caste there, and that the teacher was "really kind".
"And we’d chat, all of us, and there were all sorts, less wealthy girls, more wealthy girls, all there to learn how to sew. Then she taught us very well - explained things well."
Learning skills such as this helps the family financially, as well as helping the confidence of young women. Their value in the household is increased by their earning money.
"Now I sew at home, we get orders for clothes from outside. I can sew things for others, and I can get some help, my husband even helps me a little. And my husband likes it to that his 'Bibi' knows how to sew. He really likes it."
Of course, one of the main advantages of attending such a course is being able to leave the home environment and the slum, and interact with other women in a different space.
"It was really nice, talking with everyone, I was really happy. And I got the opportunity to go out."
Thanks so much for giving this invaluable opportunity to develop to young women such as Rajya. It wouldn't be possible without your generosity.
Sorry again for the late update - I'm writing from India, where I've been spending time visiting different project, including the Green Tara Foundation (as it's now called) which supports girls like Preethi.
It's always a delight visiting here, and I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with you. We will also be making a short film about the project.
I met many girls on this trip, and I'd like to share the story of one here. Kalpana is 18, and has not long completed her 12th standard exams. She is bright and intelligent and a remarkable example of what this project is doing for girls in the slums.
"Before I joined the Green Tara Foundation - I mean, the computer classes, I never used to leave the house." Kalpana joined with the project a few years ago, first with the computer classes, and then with the spoken English. She's so confident and clear, you'd never guess she was talking about herself just a few years before. "Now I go out - but before I didn't know about anything. You don't know about anything if you don't go out. Now I know about computers, English... I know a lot.
I see Kalpana again and again at project acitvities, She's helping the other girls now, so they can experience was she did. I ask her about her plans for the future and work.
"I got a job offer from Tata motors" she says - an incredible achievement for a dalit girl from the slums, "but I turned it down. I want to study more."
In the week that I am there, she gets another job offer from a local supermarket that she interviewed for. She takes it "but only for 6 months" she tells me. "That's when my course starts."
Thank you for helping to bring about this great change.
Prior to attending classes at the project Pooja, 20, was living with her mother in a rented single room with only a tin roof for shelter. She had hopes of buying a home for herself and her mother however with only her mother’s 4,000 Rupees monthly income to support them, there was little prospect of improving their situation. Her reliance on her mum for support left Pooja with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. The project leader described her as sincere but initially very timid and reluctant to take part in class activities.
Pooja saw other young women in the neighbourhood benefit from the project classes in the area and decided to attend the computer and English courses. She noticed a rapid boost in her confidence as a result of attending the classes. Despite not having much funding for travel she was managed to attend classes every day for three months. Her tutors helped her search for job openings and helped her with interview preparation and guidance.
Pooja now has a position as a call operator where she uses the skills she gained during her time with the project. With her 6,000 Rupee monthly salary she was able to help buy a place for her and her Mother as well as a gas stove to replace the brick oven 'chulha' they had been using. She has encouraged other women in the area to join the projects classes and her friends have commented on how much happier she has become since qualifying from vocational training.
"I am very much liking my life I took some loan we have our own house - small tin walls but we have our own shelter. And now we have cooking gas also, before we cook on 'chulha' - very much trouble.
Green Tara Foundation [the project] give me support to search for a job, they prepared me for interview.
I faced the interview very confidently, and I got the job because of Green Tara's vocational training"
Madhuri is typical of the gilrs at the project.
22 years old, she lives in a small house, constructed of tin sheeting, with her 2 brothers, a sister-in-law, and her 2 parents, in Bhimnagar slum.
Her father is a rickshaw driver, and brings in 7,000rs a month, on which it is impossible to support a family of 6.
Madhuri explains that she used to see other girls who were attending classes, how confident they were, and the new skills they were acquiring.
" I wanted to help my family. This was my main concern. I really wanted to take responsibility in helping, especially because my father is getting older. I decided to enrol in the computer classes. I attended these classes for 3 months. In this time, I was also able to attend other classes that the foundation were running, such as the 'Personality Development' lectures and 'Spoken English' classes. All of these things helped me to get a job in a call centre as a call attendent."
Madhuri now earns 7,000rs a month, which means the household income is now doubled. She also expresses happiness that she no longer has to wear old clothes as she always used to have to.
"I am very grateful to the donors" she said smiling widely.
Thank you for your support which allows these girls to change their lives, and the way they are regarded in their families and communities.
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