Jan 24, 2020

Community Leadership Projects - Empowering Communities

After joining Shadhika as a staff, I was able to visit three NGO partner sites in November to follow up with our scholars on their progress with their community leadership projects. I visited Vacha in Mumbai, Baale Mane in Bangalore and Jabala in Kolkata, Murshidabad and Birbhum. This is my journey from Shadhika scholar to Shadhika staff, every mile is beautiful for me and I have experienced a lot of learning from each visit.

When we met with the scholars, we could easily see their excitement related with their project. Shadhika implemented the community leadership project component of the scholarship program in June, 2019. All scholars were trained at the Leaders for Change Summit. All scholars selected topics as per their community needs; Girls Rights, Right to Education, Right to Mobility, Child Marriage, Health and Sanitation and Voting Rights. Yes, it seems very big topic for them, but they have decided to work on their issue and to make changes for themselves and for their community. At the summit, they prepared their plan, activity and their goals related with their topic.

During our site visits I have noticed one thing, that every scholar has started their project with a survey, which means they spent time finding out what the community knows and needs to know regarding their chosen topic. Every girl took survey in their respective community, and tabulated their results. Their second step was to do an activity and action plan in their community. A few scholars were doing their activity already and a few were ready to implement their action plan.

I see their sparkle, hard work and their passion related with their project. They said, “Yes, we are grateful that now we are completing our graduation and along with that, we are doing something for our community. Hopefully our little step towards awareness in community, school and college will make change in each person.” From this project, they have started conversation with girls and women, from that day and that time, they all are empowering each other.

Nov 5, 2019

Mobile Phones & Technology

As Shadhika Scholars took over the YWCA in Mumbai during the Leaders for Change Summit, you could find groups of scholars dancing in the hallways in front of a mobile phone, creating a music video in the popular app, TikTok.  During lunch and dinner, scholars were constantly taking selfies with each other and uploading them on Snapchat and Instagram. Throughout the weekend scholars, chaperones and Shadhika staff competed in the Mobile & Mighty Challenge where teams raced around Mumbai taking group photos in front of famous historical landmarks and then uploaded the photos onto Facebook.  The streets of Mumbai were navigated using Google Maps and ridesharing businesses like Uber and Ola.  The weekend communication plan was texting and calls through WhatsApp, another popular and easy app to chat with friends and family. 

Technology is one of the fastest growing fields of access, opportunity and growth.  Owning a mobile phone is the first step to understanding the world of technology.  Within the Shadhika Scholarship, many scholars actually receive a mobile phone with their scholarship funds so that they are able to communicate with their families, classmates and NGO mentors. 

Even though majority of the scholars can access internet through their mobile phone, it is apparent that without the access to a computer, many scholars struggle with basic computer skills.  We have found that many of our alumnae struggle with job searching, writing resumes and sending professional emails.

Understanding the struggle and working with our local NGO’s, Shadhika is able to provide a laptop computer and computer literacy classes to second year scholars.  We've heard from these scholars that once they receive their laptop, the opportunities and quality of school work increases. 

There are just some things that a mobile phone cannot do, and access to a computer is essential to fill that gap.

Nov 1, 2019

Shadhika Alumnae Update

Graduation Ceremony
Graduation Ceremony

Remember the days where you once walked across a stage and graduated from college, feeling both accomplished and terrified?  Spending time imagining the possibilities and opportunities that await your arrival, in the midst of long nights writing resumes and cover letters that are unique to each position. Those thoughts, feelings and time building applications are a commonality among graduates around the world.  Some graduate with a plan and others work tremendously hard to find a job in their field.  The young women we serve at Shadhika are no different.

In May, 2019 we graduated our second class of Shadhika Scholars.  In total, 22 young women have completed degree college or technical college and have carved the path for Shadhika Scholars for years to come.  In May, we were able to form our first alumnae network to help support these young women on their journey into the formal workplace.  We know finding a job is hard and we want to make sure that their journey doesn’t end with a college degree. 

With the blessing of technology, we are able to stay in touch with our alumnae through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and email.  These young women enjoy giving us updates and are proud of their accomplishments.  68% of alumnae have received a job in the formal economy and the salaries of these young women are three times the amount of the average Indian salary.  Alumnae are working in various job sectors including banks, accounting firms, NGO programs, pharmacies and research companies.  We also have an alumnae who is a fashion designer and one who is a dietician. 

In addition to the young women being proud of themselves, their parents also feel the impact. Two alumnae sisters report, “They (my parents) feel very proud of us. Me and my sister financially help my family and also help my brother for his studies. I also changed my lifestyle. I am independent and also gave my advice to my father in any situation. My father also tells me, you both are diamond of our family."

 
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