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Oct 10, 2019

Growing ginger gives Maya much more than a crop

Maya, 32, lives in the challenging landscape of Chitwan, Nepal. She opted to learn how to farm tumeric and ginger, also receiving gender equality training as part of the skills to equip her with her own business, in an environment that many women face the double-discrimination of caste and gender oppression.

Maya undertook the training for 11 months and is now a ginger and tumeric farmer, managing her own crop and finances. Previously unable to consistently provide their children with clothes and schooling, this additional income has been a huge boost for Maya and her husband.

Additionally, through the gender equality training, Maya has formed connections with other women who support each other in work and in the domestic sphere; they have learnt violence, domination and restriction of their movements is not acceptable.  Together, they are stronger than ever.

Maya says of the experience: 'I'm happy to have the chance to attend fruitful skills development and gender equality training. We 15 women from different groups became so close and familiar, we want to work together for long periods through ginger and turmeric farming. The ginger farming is hard work; planting, weeding and digging so we need to have support from our families. We also learnt so many things about gender discrimination. Actually, even things we thought were normal such as male violence and domination, is not. Now we know the forms of discrimination, domination from elders and where and how to file a case against violence. Cultural and social norms are not scientific and natural."

Thank you for supporting this project and empowering Maya and others like her to reach their independence and potential.  

Oct 8, 2019

The student becomes the teacher

On a visit to the Karuna-funded hostel in Nagpur, India Vaishali Mangam shared her inspiring story of how she developed from hostel student to an inspired and motivated hostel teacher:

I am from Yavatmala district and was a hostel student 1993 until 2000. I joined when I was in 8th standard and left the hostel when I was in 12th. During my stay in the hostel, I become confident and educated, this helped to get a government school teacher job and I’m earning a good wage.

I have been in regular contact with the Hostel project leader and they told me about the development of the hostel. They invited me to teach some workshops at the hostel as the school I teach in is known as one of the best in the region. On my visit I was so pleased to see the hostel is running more efficiently and I remembered my days in the hostel well. I was also pleased to see that all girls are happy.

I gave the girls a 2 hour workshop on mathematics and language, using fun education techniques, which I learnt from my experience. They had been nervous of these subjects before I arrived. I also explained the girls on how good behaviour honesty helps to develop them and how it is important to listen to wardens, which ultimately helps them in their future life, when they are adults.

I would again like to come to the hostel and give similar workshops, to help them continue making the basics and foundations very firm.

Oct 3, 2019

A New Hope For Parents

Parents of disabled children in India have an extremely difficult time. They are often scorned in their villages by people who believe that they are being punished by god, and that they must have done something wrong to have a disabled child. This prejudice often happens even within families.

This social stigma, compunded by poverty and lack of access to services makes for a miserable existence for these parents.

The Bhalobasha project offers a lifeline to parents - offering not only practical support but also a different perspective. Here parents are educated about their child's condition, and are taught the truth about why their child may have been born with a disability, and how they can best look after and support their child as well as themselves.

Parents also gain a great deal from meeting each other and sharing their experiences with others who also have a disabled child. This reduces the sense of isolation they feel, and creates a sense of hope and purpose in their lives through solidarity.

I met with a group of mothers at the project when I visited recently. All of them were unanimous in their appreciation of the project and each one told me in their own way how things have changed for them since they got involved.

One mother told me - “When I first came here with my son, I was stopped by my family members many times and I used to have to lie to them to bring him to Bhalobasha. Now with the help and facilities from here, there have been remarkable changes in him, my son has started responding. My family too has now changed their outlook towards me and my son. They have started accepting my son, and I am extremely grateful to Bhalobasha for bringing changes in my him. This day care is now like a temple for me.”

Bhalobasha is changing the lives of many parents in desperate circumstances in rural West Bengal, creating a ray of hope and a sense of possibility when previously there was none.

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