Empower girls like Priti in slums in Pune, India

by Karuna Trust
Vetted

Begam is 25 years old. She lives with her two children and her husband in a small room attached to the back of a tin house in a slum district in Pune. When Begam was growing up she was not allowed to go to school. Like many Indian girls she was kept at home to do domestic chores.

Begam had wanted to send her children to school but was unable to do so as they could not afford it. During a survey completed by the team of the local women and girls Begam was told about the project and the work that they do. She decided to join the project’s three month tailoring course.

During the course Begam learnt how to make saris, the traditional Indian dress for women. She also took the projects personality development courses in communication rights awareness. As a result of this Begam began to grow in confidence and interpersonal skills. She started her own business and now earns between £40 and £50 per month. Now Begam can send her kids to school with the extra income. None of this could have happened without the project and its supporters.         

Moana is 19 years old. She lives with her two sisters and one brother in the Vishrantwadi slum district of Pune. Moana dropped out of school in 12 Standard.

In the time after she left school she did little but sit at home and watch popular Indian soap operas on TV. She first came across the project when the team called to her door to take a survey of women and girls in her area prior to starting project activities.

Moana was at first very hesitant to travel alone through the slum to get to the project’s sewing classes. Like many girls her age she faced potential verbal and physical abuse from local boys each time she left the house alone. She insisted on her father dropping her to the project’s classes.

Moana in staying at home and not communicating with her peers had lost much of her confidence and was very shy in project activities. She was unable to look people in the eye for example and would attend all the project activities except the personality development classes which she found too difficult.   

But she soon made friends with the other girls who encouraged her to open up more in class. Now Moana describes the project team “as family”. Recently she made the journey from home to the project center entirely by herself and has become confident in challenging verbal abuse from local boys.   

Moana has completed her sewing training and in the future wants to work in fashion design. She also wants to earn to be able to give back to the project. None of this could have happened without the support of the project and its generous supporters.   

Programme Manager Jonathan Clark
Programme Manager Jonathan Clark

The project has reported back on progress for the second half of the year’s activities. The team has reported good progress. Below are some bullet point highlights from the report. 

Programme Manager's Summary

In November Karuna’s new programme manager, Lizzie Guiness visited the project to carry out a series of interviews with beneficiaries. She reported that the girls interviewed expressed clear understanding of child and women’s rights and had a clear sense of their future life direction and career options. Many girls expressed an interest in working in sectors that would support the transformation of women’s lives such as the law and the police. The girls also shared that they had been challenging views within their family around education and early marriage. Some of the young women, predominantly from Muslim families, shared that previously they had been forbidden by male relatives from leaving the home. Through the support workers engagement with the family, trust was developed and the girls were able to access training and support (particularly in sewing skills) and were keen to use any earnings from dress-making to support their own education in the future.

The project operates a successful volunteering program with links to the local international girl- guide centre and local companies. As a result of a series of volunteer placements the Trust received a donation of around £3,000 from a local tech company.

In November two members of the team participated in a Karuna project planning workshop in Nagpur focusing on project planning using a logical framework model. Over the next few months a new Programme manager based in Pune will be taking over grant managing the project. She will be working closely with the project managers to review the project plan and help them improve their systems for evaluation and reporting.

 

Major Achievments Towards Project Goals 

  • 90 out of the 119 women trained are in paid employment following training.
  • In a strong display of confidence two girls involved in the project filed incidence reports with the local police station against young men who had been verbally harassing them in the slum district. The girls were supported by 20 of their friends who went to the local police station with them to demand that the police end the verbal abuse. As cat calling and intimidation is one of the major reasons girls stay indoors in India it is positive that girls involved in the project have taken a stand against this using the skills they were taught from the project team. The girls faced some social backlash from taking the action. The project is now helping them with this.
  • The team started study sessions for boys. The project came to the decision that they needed to work with young boys to address their attitudes to women from an early age. Boys had also requested they join activities when they saw the benefit to their sisters.
  • 10 girls have agreed with their family to postpone their marriage so they can continue their education. This shows girls engaged in the project are developing enough confidence to start shaping their own futures. This is unusual in the project area.         

Payel is ten years of age. She lives in the slum area of Gunjal in Pune. She stays with her mum and dad and two brothers.

Before joining project activities Payal would move around from slum to slum with her family. Her life was not very stable. Her mum suffers from severe mental health difficulties and faces a lot of stigma within the community. Her father also suffers from alcoholism and is violent towards her mother. Difficulties with neighbors would push the family from home to home.

Payal was not enrolled in school. Her mother would keep her at home so she could do domestic chores. She spent much of her time indoors and away from other children.

The project team learnt of Payal through their project area survey. Before starting work in a new slum the team surveys each household. They record the number of girls in the area and if they are married, working or in education. This way they know who can benefit from the project’s activities.

The first thing the team did was to help Payal get enrolled in school. At first she did not like going because she was amidst younger children and had fallen behind. The project’s after school study classes and extra tuition helped bring her confidence levels up. Now one of Payal’s favorite things to do is study. Even when other activities are on Payal continues to study in the space provided. Her brother is also now enrolled in the boy’s group.

The project team has intervened with Payal’s parents to stop the domestic violence. They have also found mental health treatment for her mum. Things are improving as a result and Payal now finds she is not as fearful when she is at home. In the future she wants to complete her studies and become a doctor. None of this would have been possible without the project and its supporters.     

Gazala is 19 years old. She lives with her parents, brother and two sisters in the Bhimnagar Slum in Vishrantwadi. The family live in a single room house with tin walls and tin roof for shelter.   

Gazala first heard of the project through a survey of the needs of the local community being conducted by the project team. At the time Gazala was unemployed, out of school, and with little to occupy her. The family was struggling to survive on her father’s £60 per month income.

With encouragement from the project workers, Gazala enrolled in the projects 4 month tailoring course with the hope of helping her family. Though she was unsure of herself and slow to ask questions she soon gained confidence. Gazala now runs her own small business stitching clothes for the local community. Her £50 per month income allows the family to live with greater security.

Having experienced the benefits of the project Gazala now enrolls other girls from her neighborhood into the project. She is one of the many examples of individual transformation created by the project.

 

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Organization Information

Karuna Trust

Location: London, England - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.karuna.org/​
Project Leader:
Steven Murdoch
Staff Member
London, UK United Kingdom

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