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Oct 17, 2017

Battling Gender Inequality through Empowerment

We live in a country where there are instances and manifestations of violence in different forms. Creating an effective dialogue on gender is a difficult subject. Inequality and violence travels through different forms and manners. Approaching a path for reducing gender based violence consists of different steps and players. Maitri understands the position of women in our Indian society and the reasons for being oppressed are deeply interlinked with the fact that women have no resources or fewer privileges in terms of power and finances.

Amidst such nuances of gender, Maitri believes that self confidence and independence can act as effective tools in the fight towards gender equality. While working in different projects, our experiences with either Widows of Vrindavan and Radhakund, or young girls in communities have brought us this understanding that creating a space which fosters ideas of self independence and confidence actually helps in strengthening our fights against different forms of inequality and discrimination on the basis of gender.

Learning through these experiences, Maitri  has initiated a skill building empowerment project, for women and girls at Vrindavan, Radhakund and Soniya Vihar. The project focuses on providing skills and income generating opportunities. Though women and girls will be the beneficiaries of this project,there will be a special focus on empowerment of widows. We already have stitching and tailoring classes for girls and women. But converting this small step into a small time entreprenurship project will be a great step in eradicating gender based violence.

 While this initiative will have more number of gilrs, it will specially focus on working with widows as well.Maitri understands that the struggles of widows are multidimensional. Being a woman and a widow and an older person are multiple identities that each person in Vrindavan and Radhakund struggles with. In case of widowhood, a woman’s identity is defined by her husband’s, as secondary to man, the progression in society becomes one from wife to widow, with no scope to be a person of her own right. Old age is still considered as a burden, and in case of older women who have greater life expectancy but no resources; the violence faced is even higher.  Maitri believes this not only limits an individual but also violates the principles of living a life with identity, respect and dignity. And while we work towards creating gender equality, this aspect cannot be left unotouhed.

Maitri wants to thank every donor in Global Giving. Its because of your support, we have reached to a place where we can start such an initiative. You are intrumental in creating such a shift and in shaping our fight against gender based violence and  discrimination. Wish us all the best for our new initiative.

Aug 29, 2017

We only celebrate; Children live, learn and teach.

Friendship day celebrations at MaitriGram
Friendship day celebrations at MaitriGram

Dear Maitri Friend,

It gives us a great pleasure to inform you about all the “work and play” happening at MaitriGram. July and August are months with important dates that celebrate the spirit of friendship, love, brotherhood and freedom. Maitri has witnessed some of the most beautiful meanings that the children have attached to these days. We would love to share these meanings and moments, because you are contributory in creating such a motivating and magical place.

 

 Celebrating friendship:

 There was a heap of chart papers, crayons and sparkling/sketch pens in the hall. Creative minds were supplied all the essentials to utilize them and make the best out of it. There were butterflies, flowers, friendship bands drawn on the colorful chart papers. Just after material distribution, these children of Maitrigram started their colourful work. It was card-making session for the kids. Divided into a group of four, with one elder and three young, it took a lot of perseverance and patience. The activities were based on the theme of friendship day and rakhi. Everyone depicted different meanings of friendship and a lot more was shared. It was a day full of love and warmth, when children, while some of them were also siblings, collectively made rakhi by ribbons, cotton balls, decorative stars and what not!

 

Today we live amid so many riddles, so many heartbreaks, so many unfinished responsibilities. It’s also because human wants are ever growing and recurring in nature. Aspirations are perpetual. But here, the children have taught us meanings of friendship and love in a different manner. The want is minimal, here less is more. Happiness is as strong as the bonds they believe in, and as sharp the shapes of the cards they made.

 Undoubtedly it's the children who make these days much more fun and pleasant, and collectively teach us the meanings of friendship and love.Maitri (Sanskrit) means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. The children have successfully depicted these emotions in all the activities they were involved with.

 Celebrating independence:

The Indian flag, tri-colored balloons, innumerable packs of tri-colored badges and wrist bands scattered on the table. That’s how everyone at Maitrigram began, by decorating the walls and windows of MaitriGramschool.\Despite the sweaty weather, everyone toiled enthusiastically and by 3 p.m the room was full of vibrancy. kids in white kurta-pyajama and other performersin dashing attires. It was an evening of young energetic poets and dancers. Songs like vande mataram secretly recited in their hearts and the tri-colored badges thumping on our chests. It was a beautiful feeling to be part of this school, where young minds added on to the spirit of freedom and independence. They all danced on patriotic songs, recited poems and sung songs.

 After the celebration, they were provided snacks, which surely made their evening, a pack of biscuits, chips and juice. The hustle was part of the celebration, since so many nippers in one big room were hard to handle.

They sang the national anthem with full vigor and valor, with caps on their head and wristbands on their hand.

Teaching a lot more than learning

 MaitriGram provides not just tutorial classes but opportunities for personality development, skill enhancement and participation in extra-curricular activities. These activities requires a lot of effort from both the sides, teachers and as well as students. Giving ideas and applying them is a two way process. Teachers help kids here, in communicating as well, since many kids especially younger ones are timid and often become reluctant participators. By working in a group, it makes them interactive, share ideas and make full use of facilities provided by the school.

 Such celebrations are significant because they shape different meanings in the mind of a child. Surprisingly, Children of Maitrigram have rather added new feathers to the spirit of these celebrations. While Maitri has provided such an environment, the children are the ones who have added different meanings and shades to them. And while Maitrigram and the children are the key participants, it’s because of help and support from donors like you, that such dynamics has been created. You have helped impart meanings to emotions and feelings of friendship, love and freedom with the children of MaitriGram. What more can an education expect? And what more journeys can we all take? Thank you for all your support and lets create more of such meanings and journeys,

Aug 16, 2017

Struggle, Survive and Success; Stories that heal

 In a country like India, a young widow can get married and have a life of change whereas an old widow is thrown into a life of hell- one of the widows, Vrindavan.

June marks two important days, “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” and “International Widows’ Day” and we at Maître understand how deeply these two days are interlinked with each other.Many elderly women in India lead lives of neglect and poverty. In particular, elderly widowed women are often denied even basic rights such as food, health-care and are thrown out of their homes by their families. Maitrighar aims to provide a safe home for abandoned widows. We would like to thank you for your support. You help in providing a voice and strengthen a journey that refuses to bow down before abuse and discrimination.

 Maitri ghar is not just a home but also a space that encourages and salutes fights and voices against abuse. Maitri believes and salutes stories of struggles. Above all, Maitri understands that these journeys are extraordinary and sharing them acknowledges the beauty of courage and plants seeds of hope. Maitri believes sharing heals half of the wounds and opens a path towards change and freedom.

 For instance, one of the widows, living with us since June 2014, speaks about her experiences and journeys with a touch of hope and spirit of survival. “My husband was old and he got frail and sick and eventually died. My first husband sold me off to a man with six kids along with my daughter for Rs. 20,000 After five years, he came to take me back, but people around me started shaming me and the second man to whom I was sold married me. My second husband took good care of me when he was alive. He gave me a dignified life and a name in society. However, after his death, his children and my only daughter started beating and abusing me, threatened me with dire consequences, and forced me to sign property papers. I used to cry, but the children were not moved by my plight. They wanted me to move out of the house. It felt terrible, because life changed at the drop of a hat. The position and respect that was given to me was snatched away from me and I was stricken with all kinds of grief.”

 She speaks as she raises some important questions about respect, identity and pain. “Words cannot explain the grief that I have experienced. My heartbreaks when I think of that pain, nobody can understand what I have gone through. I cry thinking about how my own children treated me. I was old, frail and illiterate. I used to pray to God that some angel would come from somewhere and take me away from this pain.In a country like India, a young widow can get married and have a life of change whereas an old widow is thrown into a life of hell.”

 For her, Maitri is a home. “Maître has helped me overcome all the pain. I never feel lonely or alone here, and the environment here gives me solace and makes me remember my childhood days." Maître wants to rather thankyou , because your support has helped us provide such a home and has brought attention to such stories of struggles and victories.

 Your contribution also ensures that the widow mothers live in healthy and hygienic environment. They have clean rooms, clean beds, and maintain personal hygiene, which is necessary for a healthy life.

 With your partnership, we are enabling about 55 widows are in Radhakund’s Maitri Ghar and 66 widows are in Vrindavan Maitri Gharto live with dignity and respect. We also have 3 non-resident widows at Radha Kund who come for Lunch and Milk distribution. 7185 meals and 2266 fruits were served to the widows..In the month of July, 365 widows from Vrindavan and Radha Kund were taken to the hospital for checkup and medications. 6 Health camps have beenorganized.

 Thank you for being our pillar of strength! Thank you for being instrumental in sharing these stories of struggles and shaping journeys of victories along with the widows of Vrindavan and RadhaKund.

Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
 
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