We have recently visited our project team in Pune to make a video document of the fantastic work that they have been doing with the local women and girls. The video introduces our inspiring project manager Dr Mande Mune. Dr Mune grew up as a young Dalit girl from a very poor family. She managed to resist pressure to get married at a young age in order to finish her education. She went on to complete her medical degree and now works towards helping young girls and women like her to avoid a life of poverty. Please follow the link to find out more about Dr Mune’s invaluable work in providing a new life to women and girls in the slums of Pune, India.
Click here to view the video
“When I was at home, I use to see neighborhood girls go to school. When I saw them, I wished to study like them and be able to go to school like them. Now I am also going to school. I am very happy and much confident too.” Anita
Anita from Rajivgandhi Nagar, Vishrantwadi, India is 16 years of age. She comes from a very poor family. She lives at home with her sister and brother in law as well as both his parents. Two years she lost her father and her mother became very ill as a result of the shock. Her mother has since been unable to work.
Anita and her sister left school three years ago to help provide for the family. She had to clean, cook and wash clothes and kitchen utensils. Her sister works as a garbage collector to earn money and Anita often goes out to help her with it.
Anita met with a Green Tara project worker who explained that the project helped girls like her get back and complete their education. She was guided to re-enrol after a three year absence. Because Anita’s house is very small Green Tara provide her and girls like her a space to study that is quiet and free from distraction.
Anita has completed 6th Class and is now studying for her 7th Class exams. Anita often saw her peers going to school when she had to stay at home and work. “Now I am also going to school. I am very happy and much confident too. I have gratitude towards Green Tara foundation for showing me that I can go to school again after dropping out three years ago”.
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.
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