In our Jodhpur Empowerment Centre we now have 28 students aged between 12 and 40 years old. About 10 students have recently joined Sambhali from the local communities in Jodhpur. Dilkush the English teacher is now helped by up to 4 volunteers at one time, so that they are able to divide the class up into 3 groups of different abilities. The Advanced group are now able to speak English quite well and introduce themselves. They are able to say a little about who they are and what they have been learning whilst coming to Sambhali. Dilkush has used role-play in some of the groups, where they have a conversation with a doctor/shopkeeper and they are able to practise their bargaining skills! They have worked on English grammar including comparisons – eg good, better, best. The new students at the Centre cannot write nor hold a pencil, so the tutor has spent a lot of time taking it very slowly and teaching them one letter of the alphabet per day.
One volunteer was interested in teaching some of the girls computer skills and so over the period of 2 months that she was here, Claudia taught 6 girls how to start the PC from scratch, search on the Internet, obtain an email ID, send mail and open Word sheets and type basic English on the keyboard. The girls have been very enthusiastic to learn this and now can send emails back to the previous volunteers!
Eight of the girls have now been attending the course for at least one year and so they took it upon themselves to apply for government jobs at the Municipality of Jodhpur. Sambhali was helping them make their applications and approach the right people. They met the Honorable Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Respected Mayor and also helped very much by the Vice Mayor. We wait to hear with fingers crossed, the outcome..
In the Arts and Crafts sessions the new students are starting to compile a file of embroidery stitches and all the girls have been making various items influenced by the workshops that the volunteers have been taking. They have learnt knitting, so have made teddy bears, caps and water bottle holders. A couple of them are learning to knit sweaters. They have made very pretty embroidered samplers and have been preparing some macramé bracelets which are for a potential order from Canada.
A couple of the volunteers in the last few months have done some theatre workshops with the girls and put on a wonderful shadow theatre performance which had a theme on the role of newly married women in the household. They have since performed this with some choreographed dance at 3 venues in and around Jodhpur. Theatre has really helped to develop the girls’ self-esteem and confidence to be themselves and realise their own abilities. The volunteers also have given a series of team-building workshops which incorporated trust exercises and speaking in front of the group and also camera workshops.
A couple of parent/teachers meetings have been held; one where a psychologist attended who talked to the parents about the various issues that had cropped up about teenage girls wanting to take their own decisions about who they wanted to marry. The psychologist was able to talk them through the difficulties they were having and how to discuss this with their daughters.
Sambhali Trust also helps individuals in need. We received a call from a friend working in the media about a girl roaming around by herself at the railway station in Jodhpur and so we went to find her a refuge. We found out that she was brought to Jodhpur by a “Job Placement agency based in Delhi” for being a domestic help from Jharkhand in East India. She was not treated well at this house she worked for, and after a month decided to run away from there. With the help of the Child Welfare Committee we helped her to get to the Shelter Home in the care of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department.
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