Dec 17, 2012

Jodhpur Empowerment Centre Progress Report

Learning embroidery
Learning embroidery

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.

Computer Class
Computer Class
Volunteer teaching
Volunteer teaching
Sanju's sampler
Sanju's sampler
Greeeting cards
Greeeting cards
Shadow theatre performance
Shadow theatre performance
Savita
Savita
Camera workshop
Camera workshop
Sep 17, 2012

Giving the village children a new start in life..

The Sambhali Sheerni Educational Programme was started in July 2012 to help provide 15 girls from the village of Setrawa (100km to the west of Jodhpur) and outlying areas with the chance of a good education in Jodhpur. Some of these girls had been attending our Empowerment Centre in the village and now had the opportunity to go to a good private school and receive bed and board with a local family. 

Virendra and his wife Nirmala, put in a lot of work and preparation to make these girls feel at home. They installed bunk beds in the girls’ room and together with six volunteers from Sambhali the girls gradually established a routine in the morning to get washed and dressed and have breakfast.  Some  health and dental checks were done, their weight recorded and arm measurements taken, because these girls were mostly malnourished and we hope that after some time in their new home, the girls will gradually gain weight by having the nutritious meals that Nirmala is cooking for them.  The plan is to document these measurements each month so that we can do a follow up and monitor the improvements. 

 As we were not able to get rid of the lice of the girls with normal lice shampoo and some of the girls had some skin rashes  we went to see a dermatologist.  Two girls with a specific skin disease got a prescription, a profound lice and worm treatment was started and the skin rashes were being taken care of with medicine. Two of the girls complained about bad vision especially in bad light. The physician suspected nightblindness because of Vitamin A deficiency and prescribed medication and all the girls started a multivitamin/iron supplement medication once the worm treatment was finished. We are sure that all signs of  undernourishment will stop after a few months of a good diet- signs like very low weight, skin and vision problems, growth of thin hair on arms and  legs (symptoms that are in the Western world are only seen in anorexic or bulimic girls). We also all paid a visit to the Shared Vision Centre in Jodhpur which assesses eyesight and the need for wearing glasses. Five girls were provided with glasses.

It took a few days to establish new methods of hygiene and good eating habits; the volunteers slept at the boarding house overnight to help with any initial homesickness and helping early in the morning to establish a routine; preparing new clothes to wear for home and school, books, backpacks and food to take to school.   

The 15 girls ranging in age from 7-12 years now attend Galaxy Sr Secondary School in Jodhpur which is 5 mins walk away from their house.  Ten days after moving from their rural way of life to living in Jodhpur, they started to attend school.  Gradually the girls are changing from being reserved and shy to joining in group activities, smiling and showing how much their self-confidence is growing.  School is from 7.30am-12.30pm and after that 2 volunteers go 6 days a week, from 3.30-6.00pm to help them with their homework and do some creative and fun activities with them.

We are happy that this project has started so well, after some initial problems at the beginning and now we hope that we can continue to fund this programme for at least the next five years, so that the girls can receive a good education and give them the best possible start in life to help themselves and in turn their families.

Jun 11, 2012

Empowerment Centres Progress Report

Sambhali's new minivan with some of the students
Sambhali's new minivan with some of the students

Last month we managed at last to buy our own minivan for the girls to be transported in, instead of the need for rickshaws.   As I realized the other day, it needs to be slim, to go down the narrow streets in Jodhpur and in their communities, weaving in and out of the traffic and in between the cows, carts etc! We had hoped for this for a long time and thanks to your support, finally we’ve managed to get it. It means now we can transport the girls to and from the Empowerment Center; the Graduates to the Sewing Center, the teachers to our new Empowerment Center, “Sambhali  Sisters for Sisters Project”  which is about 11km on the outskirts of Jodhpur in a shelter home for orphaned girls.  All the girls love it and it’s so useful it’s used all day long!

1st June saw the opening of our new Boutique in the town center, near the Clocktower in Jodhpur.  We decided to move to a different site, which is now on the pathway route up to the Mehrangarh Fort, the main tourist attraction in Jodhpur, so it is easily visible.  It has taken us a month to fit it out and we are now very happy with the result.  We have employed Monica who has been a student of Sambhali since the beginning, was then sponsored to go to school and has been one of the best students in her class.  Her father died a couple of months ago and the income of her family is relied upon through her sister who works in the Graduates’ Sewing Center and herself, as her mother is unable to work now.  Monica is so happy to be working in the boutique and we haven’t forgotten her studies, so we are making sure that she has private tuition at the same time, so that she can resume her education when she wants to.  We feel that the experience she will get working in the boutique will also help to increase her self-confidence and her ability to manage the sales, stock etc.  We have high hopes of Monica doing really well in the future, because of her all-round ability, adaptability and enthusiasm to do everything and her interest in women’s empowerment. 

The girls in the Jodhpur Empowerment Center have been working hard on learning how to make garments (salwaars and kurtas) and also doing quilting techniques and products including making shoulder bags.  We have had a couple of volunteers, one of whom returned to do a theater workshop for a month. They developed a performance which demonstrated examples of the type of problems that women face in Rajasthan including verbal and physical abuse.  The girls developed their drama skills and really enjoyed giving performances in both Jodhpur and Jaipur for International Women’s Day.  We’ve had many volunteers helping with English tuition and Arts and Crafts classes as well giving different workshops including family-planning workshops which were given by Carlotta, a professional volunteer we were lucky enough to have from Germany .

The graduates have fulfilled making an order of soft toys including cats and monkeys, elephants and camels for an organization in the US.   We had a little good-bye party to a volunteer who had been with us for 3 months, Marlies Schmid, who has taught the women how to make western-style garments – trousers, tops, skirts and dresses. The women have been so keen and committed to learn and they have had daily tuition from Marlies for the last 12 weeks. We have found a supplier of printed cotton in Jodhpur and now we are making these clothes out of printed cotton together with some linen trousers for the Boutique.  All the women went down to the Boutique a couple of days after it opened again, to see all the things they have been making displayed in the shop.  It was lovely to see how much it meant to them.   So now we are able to produce garments and welcome any orders!   We are developing samples for potential orders at the moment after the women have been working hard for a month stocking up the boutique.

Opening of the new Sambhali Boutique in Jodhpur
Opening of the new Sambhali Boutique in Jodhpur
Monica, our new shop supervisor
Monica, our new shop supervisor
Graduates having fun at the new shop opening
Graduates having fun at the new shop opening
Student learning to make quilted bags
Student learning to make quilted bags
Dance performance in Jaipur
Dance performance in Jaipur
Marlies, volunteer teaching dressmaking
Marlies, volunteer teaching dressmaking
Cotton top and linen trousers made by graduates
Cotton top and linen trousers made by graduates
Soft toy order
Soft toy order

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