This month, I thought I'd talk about the small plays and dramas that our girls write and perform.
When we first start working with girls in a new slum area, they are incredibly shy and unconfident. Having been ignored and not spoken to in both the home and at school, as well as not having been allowed much out of the home, they are not used to speaking to others, making friends or expressing themselves.
One of the things the girls love about meeting in their groups is being able to see their friends and play. One of the ways that this 'play' can also help them learn about their position as girls, is through the creation of small dramas on the topics they have learnt about. Girls get together, create, write and enact their own small plays with their friends on topics such as child rights, the position of the girl in the home, early marriage and domestic violence.
This kind of drama allows the girls to express themselves and also builds their confidence. When they are confident enough, some of our girls may even go and perform such dramas on the street for the wider public. Not only is this empowering for them - it is a lively way of making other girls and the local community think about these issues.
I wanted to upload a video of such a play, but it doesn't seem like thar's possible here, so I've included two photos of street performances from earlier in the year.
Thank you so much for all the support you give. It helps to transform the lives of our girls, and lets them have some much needed fun on the way.
Poonam (name changed) is 14 and lives in one of the slums where Green Tara has been working for a few years. She is fourteeen and is the youngest of four sisters. Her mother and father both labour for daily wages, as a domestic helper and a contstruction worker respectively. Poonam had this to say in March about her involvement in our project over the last year:
"Before joining classes at Green Tara, I couldn't really read or write, and especially couldn't express myself with any confidence. I had really low self-esteem and my siblings and parents would be very unkind to me, which I would just accept.
Then one day, I met Nirmala [a Green Tara social worker], who told me about the tuition classes being run by Green Tara. After starting to attend these classes I learnt to read and write properly. Because of the confidence that I gained from this, I also started to speak out and voice my opinion more about rights in the home and community.
With Green Tara we organised a rally advocating cleanliness and prevention of child marriage. I understand now that girls should not be married before they are adults. I'm passionate about advocating for this now, and I have decided that in the future I want a career where I can educate more people about the harmful effects of child marriage, and raise awareness of women's issues.
I have also learn that as girls we have the right to learn and grow - this is not something that should only be limited to boys. My parents think that because I'm a girl I cannot become educated, and become a doctor. Now, because of Green Tara Foundation, I want to change their thinking. I want to prove to them that I am entitled to education and freedom to become and be whatever I want."
Thank you for your continued support, which means that girls like Poonam have a chance of breaking out of a cycle of poverty and early marriage in the slums. This wouldn't be possible without your generous donations.
Our girls' stories can often be similar, but it doesn't make them any less heartbreaking.
I met Shakti in one of the new slums where we're working late last year. She's in 10th standard (which would make her about 16 years old). Her mother died some years ago, and since then she has had full responsiblity for running the whole household, which consists of her father and three elder brothers.
She told me that she had to wake up early (before 5am) and prepare the food for the lunches of her father and three brothers before they go to work. She used to try to go to school, but then one of her brothers forbade her from doing so, which gave her more time to focus on the other chores in the house.
Then one of our social workers came to the house, and told her she ought to go to school. 'But father said no' she said.
At this point in the story she started crying. She tried to hide her face, but was crying for some time while the other project workers comforted her.
Our social workers convinced Shakti's father and brothers to let her go to school, and she's been back at school now for over six months.
'I really like it' she says.
It's not easy. She still has to do all the housework. She now wakes up at 5.30. She still has to make food for everyone.
'But things are getting better. One of my brothers helps me with the housework now.
I believe in myself now. I want to keep studying after 10th. I have friends now. I hope we can all keep studying together'.
Thank you all for helping girls like Shakti stay in school, giving them a real chance of escaping lives of domestic servitude in the slums.
Shakshi was introduced to me as a girl who loved to dance. She beamed a big smile and began to tell me about school.
"When I used to go to school, I didn't have any friends. The school had really good facilities. Girls from the local hostel used to go there.
Then I made friends with this girl [from the group]. I used to not even have a pen to write, but she used to let me use hers. And then I made some other friends.
But a lot of girls still used to mock me. They would call me 'baldy'. Sometimes the teacher would hear them and make them say sorry."
Shakshi comes from a difficult family situation. Her mother suffered from mental illness and left the home with her little brother and sister to look for a job in a richer part of the city. Her father is an alcoholic and used to beat her mother. He is currently unemployed. After Shakshi's mother left, her father pulled her out of the school.
It was some of the girls of one of our groups that joined together and turned up at Shakshi's fathers house to ask why she hadn't been seen at school for months. They insisted that she should go, and her father let her again, as long as they accompanied her to school and back.
"I love school a lot so I'm so grateful to the Green Tara Foundation" she says.
She attends daily tuition classes with the group, as well as extra-curricular activities they run, which gives her the opportunity to do things such as dance with the other girls.
Shakshi's life is still hard, but thanks to your support she is back and school, and has a group of friends and a place to dance. All of this makes her life very different to how it would otherwise have been.
Thank you for your donations.
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